Friday, August 24, 2007


Why is it that every company I do business with these days has customer service representatives with incredibly thick Indian accents?!?

While I won't go off on a diatribe re: the national unemployment ramifications of farming out all of our tech support to countries that pay a lower wage, there is a much simpler pitfall to this particular money-saving plan:  I cannot understand what the hell these people are saying to me!!

Case #1:  I just got off the phone with my credit card company.  I had called to request a credit limit increase (damn, moving is expensive!) and the response was about two minutes of--very melodious--gibberish.  I had no idea what the man said to me, other than that the response appeared to be negative.

Case #2 is perhaps even more alarming (or at the very least more amusing).  A few weeks ago I called Dell because Boss #2 had sent an email while on a business trip in Chile saying his laptop had crashed.  That is all the information I was given, and armed with such a detailed account of the problem I phoned up Dell tech support to find out the procedure for getting the thing repaired.

After at least 10 minutes on hold, I am connected with a woman who is most likely on the other side of the globe, pulling the graveyard shift in some sort of customer-service-sweatshop.  So I tell her what I know:  My boss is in Chile and his computer has crashed.

"Crashed?  You mean like it fell off the table?  It hit the floor?"


Are you fucking kidding me?  You are working tech support for a major American computer manufacturer, and you don't know the colloquialism of a computer crash??!??!

I would like to suggest the following rules be established for those companies who feel it is in their best economic interest to save money on wages, rather than provide effective (and intelligible) customer service:

First, make sure that your employees can be understood by the average American consumer.  Hell, I consider myself to be an above average American consumer, and yet half the time I have no idea what these people are saying to me.  Not that they all need to sound like Bryant Gumble, but on the accent-heaviness scale of 1-10, could we aim for 4 or less?

Second, if these employees are working in an area that requires (or should require) a certain breadth of knowledge and understanding... make sure they actually HAVE it!  Perhaps this woman could have re-built my boss's laptop a la MacGuyver with nothing but a Leatherman and some chewing gum, but if I mention a crash or the Blue Screen of Death, I would like you to know what I'm talking about.  (Actually, that goes for all CS reps, not just those farmed out to foreign countries.)

I think that, if we could all adhere to these simple guidelines, the customer service experience would be a little less painful for all involved.

Addendum, aka: Covering My Ass.  Please do not think I am picking on the Indian people as a whole, they just happen to be the most commonly encountered ethnic group in the current trend of customer service outsourcing.  I actually rather like that accent.  Just not on the phone via a poor long distance connection when all I really want is my current bank balance.

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