One of the defining trends of the past five years has been the relocation of jobs and call centres from Western Europe and the US offshore to foreign countries, most notably to India.
With the jobs and livelihoods of western workers on the line the subject is an emotive one but, despite this, there is no excuse for the treatment that is dished out to foreign call centre workers by a minority of callers.
An interesting article at the BBC has highlighted a report by an Indian organisation of professionals, called The Young Professionals Collective, which looked at the treatment of call centre workers and is calling on the Indian government to look at the racial abuse suffered by agents.
According to one of the organisation’s representatives, of the abusive callers:
The article goes on to highlight some of the unbelievable comments directed at call centre agents, include one worker being asked if she goes to work on a bullock cart, whilst other callers reportedly ask whether Indian workers use electricity and watch TV.
These type of comments make me embarrassed and ashamed. No matter what the circumstances every human being deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Just because they are on the other end of the phone, thousands of miles away does not make it acceptable.
I can understand the frustration that sometimes comes from calling foreign call centres.
Lloyds TSB has newly updated its phone bank service, and has turned what used to be a quick 1 minute phone call into what seems to be a ten minute marathon with the Indian staff obviously working closely to a script. Whilst this is frustrating they are perfectly friendly and I hope this will improve as the new staff get used to the system.
These young workers have seized the opportunities offered by outsourcing to improve their job prospects and good luck to them. Globalisation has been a mantra for many western nations, demanding developing nations open up their markets to western goods, but now all of a sudden with the boot on the other foot we are all crying foul.