Dell’s Move a Boon or Bust

So Dell believes they have found a solution to the level of dissatisfaction that customers feel when dealing with their offshore contact centers. For just $13/month or $99 a year you can speak with US based support agents with a wait time of two minutes or less. Those customers who do not enroll in the ‘Your Tech Team’ service will continue to be handled by offshore centers.

So is this really a solution? Will customers enroll in this new service?
Well it may represent a solution for Dell as they struggle to balance the cost savings associated with offshore centers (estimated at 20-30%) with the ire these very centers raise with their customers.

To answer the second question, yes, I believe that customers will take advantage of the service, in part to gain what they perceive to be better service, but also for patriotic reasons. Patriotism as a rationale may surprise some of you, but certainly we have heard the rhetoric about bringing back American jobs and the evils of outsourcing from politicians and in the business and mainstream media. But this sentiment resonates well with many Americans and this has been recognized by some service companies. Jitterbug a company that provides cellular phone service to older Americans states in the television ads that they have “US based customer service”, and shows a headset draped in a US flag. Jitterbug has included or ‘buried’ the increased cost of domestic contact center services in their pricing.

Contact Centers of America (CCA) is an outsource service provider with a mission to ‘bring back Customer Service jobs to America’. Their advertising and marketing material is clearly designed to invoke a patriotic response. Now CCA does have a strategy to offset in part the higher cost by co located their centers on/near Universities and Colleges and partnering with these learning institutions to provide job training, co-op and student employment at lower and/or subsidized rates. So CCA reduces the base cost of US based service through partnerships, Jitterbug includes it in the price and Dell offers pay for service.

None of this is really new, the same thing has occurred in the UK starting five years ago. With a backdrop of weekly and almost daily horror stories in dealing with offshore centers, banks and insurance companies specifically began touting UK based call centers in their ads on television and in print. In fact a UK based call center was positioned a reason enough to move your bank account, since the actual products all banks sell is virtually the same.

Dells’ shift may just be the thin edge of the wedge as companies look for ways to improve customer loyalty and retention. Clearly forcing customer to deal with a contact center where the customer has difficulty understanding the agent can be frustrating. Frustrated customers do not align well with improved loyalty or repurchase.

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