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Broadband ISP Subscribers Discouraged by Overseas Call Centres

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 (1:44 am) - Score 1,273
uk internet statistics

Does the location of your Internet provider’s call centre matter? The latest web-based survey of 1,155 ISPreview.co.uk readers has found that a third (34.6%) would rate the quality of their ISP’s call centre as “Poor” and 82.6% are discouraged from choosing a provider if they know that its call centre is based overseas.

The issue of outsourced (overseas) call centres is nothing new, with many consumers fearing that the adoption of foreign-based support services could result in worse outcomes. Overall 46.7% believed that their ISP used an overseas call centre (i.e. 42.5% thought it was UK based and 10.7% were unsure of its location), but only 31.7% reported a “Good” experience of using a call centre and issues like “Ineffective solutions” or “Long wait times” came top among consumer gripes.

How would you rate the quality of your ISPs call centre?
Poor – 34.6%
Good – 31.7%
Average – 26.7%
Unsure – 6.8%

Does your ISP use an overseas call centre?
Yes – 46.7%
No – 42.5%
Unsure – 10.7%

Would having an overseas centre count against your choice of ISP?
Yes – 82.6%
No – 17.3%

What irritates you most about call centres?
Ineffective solutions – 52%
Long wait times – 24.2%
Poor sound quality – 10.4%
Other – 7.6%
Cost (premium rate) – 3.6%
Nothing – 1.9%

Many providers outsource their call centres to cut costs by harnessing cheaper labour, but the rush to save money can sometimes negatively impact the quality of support. On the flip side ISPs often proclaim that this approach can deliver real improvements, not least by allowing them to hire more staff to answer calls and for a lower level of investment.

However the recent problems at TalkTalk, which resulted in several call centre staff in India being arrested, has also left many to feel understandably concerned about the security implications of passing their private personal data to overseas staff, where the rules and protections may be perceived as weaker.

The good news is that a growing number of providers are recognising the problems and some, such as telecoms giant BT and its mobile sibling EE, are now shifting related jobs back into the United Kingdom in the hope of cutting complaint volumes and delivering a better experience.

Never the less there’s still a long way to go and simply moving call centres back to the UK may not solve all of the problems, particularly if related processes and training aren’t improved.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks for your thoughts on how ISPs advertise their broadband speeds. Vote Here.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. This is a very interesting article and it totally resonates with what we have seen. Ineffective solutions does drive the biggest frustrations to customers coupled with a distinct lack of technical capabilities. We have tackled this by the introduction of tools and monitoring for the customer to use in order to allow them to participate in the resolution process. We are seeing more and more automation opportunities to supporting customers in order to prevent them calling into a call centre. We now firmly believe that the introduction of “Internet of Things” technologies is actually the key to helping solve the “Internet of problems”

  2. Avatar Karl

    “The good news is that a growing number of providers are recognising the problems and some, such as telecoms giant BT and its mobile sibling EE, are now shifting related jobs back into the United Kingdom in the hope of cutting complaint volumes and delivering a better experience.”

    I thought BT they were only increasing the number of UK reps NOT moving things entirely back to the UK.

  3. Avatar Chris P

    the biggest problem is retaining knowledgeable and experienced staff regardless of where they are located. An experienced Indian/American/Singaporean call centre operative is just as good as a UK one. The problem is retaining them, as with most industries, the good ones leave for more (training, money, job satisfaction, perks, etc) and the bad ones fester but are cheaper to retain. When the staff churn is high no one knows the product and the call centre is simply a tick box exercise, without adding any value.

    • Avatar Knuckle

      Good comment. Many people use the excuse that the quality is poor when they really mean that they didn’t like the accent of the customer rep. As a result, the sales departments are almost exclusively native UK accents while a more representative variety can be found in the support department if it is UK based.

  4. Avatar Kahajoin

    Remember BE

    Their staff were mosting bulgarian but very helpful and knowledgeable.

    • Avatar Colin

      You mean when the VOIP line they used for support did not keep cutting in and out mid call, the promise of call backs after line monitoring a issue for 24 hours which never happen and most of the time sending out the wrong type of BT engineer to the problem. I personally found them poor.

  5. Avatar Martin Egan

    The biggest problem i ever found when (with BT) was the very poor sound quality in and out of non UK call centres. Offered solutions were to put it kindly, a joke, so much so that i was years ago asked what the weather was like in my homestead and then asked if i would like to have a holiday by a delightful sounding lady in New Delhi! Somehow i think i missed a trick there – rooters not withstanding !

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