Reviving Quality and Proximity: The Shift Back to UK-Based Call Centres

The trend of UK companies returning to UK call centres instead of offshore locations, particularly India, reflects a significant shift in the dynamics of customer service and cost management. Several key factors have driven this movement, each underscoring the importance of quality customer service and its impact on customer loyalty and sales.

  1. UK Call Centres: Customer Service Quality and Preference

    BT and Santander, among other companies, have shifted their call centre operations back to the UK due to customer preferences and complaints regarding offshore call centres. BT completed this repatriation by January 2020, moving 100% of their customer service calls back to the UK and Ireland. This move was driven by their commitment to deliver more personal and local service to customers​​​​​​. Santander similarly cited a significant number of complaints about its Indian call centers as a reason for moving its services back to the UK, with the chief executive stating, “Our customers tell us they prefer our call centres to be in the UK and not offshore”​​​​.

  2. Rising Costs in Outsourcing Locations

    The decision to move back to UK call centres is not solely based on service quality but also on changing cost dynamics. For instance, New Call Telecom moved one of its call centres from Mumbai to Lancashire, citing rising salaries and real estate prices in India. The company found that the costs of operating in India and the UK had reached parity, considering additional expenses like travel and accommodations for staff visiting offshore locations​​.

  3. Communication and Cultural Challenges

    Accent and cultural differences have been significant issues affecting the quality of customer interactions in offshore call centres. Instances like British Telecom apologizing to a customer due to misunderstandings caused by accent differences highlight these challenges. Santander also reported complaints from customers about difficulties in being understood by Indian call centre workers​​​​.

These factors contribute to a growing awareness among UK companies that while cost is a crucial factor in outsourcing decisions, the value derived from high-quality, culturally aligned customer service is paramount. This understanding aligns with the perspective that a call centre focusing on quality service, promoting a frictionless customer journey, and enhancing customer loyalty can justify its existence in the UK.

For a company like 3C, operating in central London with a commitment to high-quality customer service, this trend offers a strategic opportunity. By emphasizing the advantages of having UK call centres in terms of customer satisfaction, cultural alignment, and now competitive costs, 3C can position itself as a compelling alternative to offshore options. The company can leverage these insights to attract UK businesses looking to outsource their customer service, ensuring quality and efficiency that align with their customer’s’ expectations and preferences.

What are you going to do?

Perhaps start by doing your homework well. Read up on how to succeed with outsourced customer service and what to do to avoid rampant customer service costs. Then do the math to see if you can afford to keep your support local – or, as we like to put it, if you can afford not to.