I'm turning the tables today, with a question to visitors to the blog, following an article from Bill McGee of Consumer Reports. He has an article in USA Today this week on "When customer service is lost in translation," with a focus on customer service provided by some of the largest travel companies in the States.

"Recently USAToday.com asked readers to share their experiences with these foreign call centers. After sorting through your responses, it's clear that many of you are not satisfied with such service.

"But it's a no-brainer decision [closing domestic call centers and outsourcing the effort to places like India] in more ways than one: The immediate gains in labor costs need to be weighed against the long-term losses in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

"Quite frankly, when USATODAY.com solicited reader feedback on this topic a few weeks ago, I was concerned that some of the responses might be xenophobic (or even racist). Instead, I found nearly all the correspondence was even-handed and respectful. What became clear is that off-shoring customer service is different from off-shoring other functions and not all jobs can be lumped into the same "foreign outsourcing" category. Whether we like it or not, there are companies in other countries that theoretically could make better and/or cheaper transmissions, cellphones, or running shoes."

I recommend McGee's "things to keep in mind" when you call for assistance:

  • Always keep a detailed log of your reservations calls, including names, dates, and times.
  • If you're not clear what is being said, either ask the agent to repeat it or ask to speak to another agent. Never agree to something you THINK you understand.
  • Don't be afraid to request a supervisor. In some cases, this will mean being transferred from a foreign call center to a domestic call center.
  • Ask the agent to follow up with an email confirmation.

Today's question for you: have you had a good or bad experience with Microsoft or other major industry customer service agents? I've posted some of my own experiences and thoughts (click here) but I'd like to hear from you.

No, I don't have a lot of free time coming up to fill. ;)

As time and space permits, I'll post your comments (keep it clean) on the blog with your experiences and follow up with our folks in customer service as well as the product groups in future posts.

 

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