How to blend the virtues of Homeshoring and Offshoring

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We all remember the rise and rise of offshore call centres. Most of the big banks and other service companies moved their customer handling abroad, amid much controversy. It was a cheaper solution but too often it was poorly planned and the result was bad service. The operator might not understand the caller, who in turn may not be able to understand the accent of the operator.

Now the world has changed from a telephone-based service culture to one based upon the internet. But text-based service alone does not provide the complete answer. When the query gets complicated, only a live chat will do.

From the early noughties, beginning in the USA, firms began to experiment with Homeshoring.

What does Homeshoring mean?

This is the transferring of service tasks from the office to individuals’ homes. These people may be employed, with PAYE and NI: or they may be independent contractors. The technique has its advantages and its disadvantages:

FOR

  • Relatively educated workers
  • Ideal for the disabled or working mothers
  • No office space costs
  • Use own PC, phone etc.
  • Local knowledge and idiom

AGAINST

  • Hard to manage remotely
  • Uneven quality
  • Loneliness of operators
  • Possible demotivation
  • More expensive than offshoring

Most firms blend this homeworking with periodic visits to the office for training and teamwork: hence it is not pure homeworking, but a blend of homeworking and telecommuting.

The Virtues of Offshoring

Despite this increase in home-based workers, offshoring still rules in many industries. And when it comes to sorting online issues, the highly-educated and computer-literate workers in India are hard to beat.

That is why when I set up Hannon Digital, it was and is a partnership with Shobhit Patil – I run the direct customer interface with account managers here in the UK; and the very strong team under Shobhit in Mumbai handles everything from responsive web design, through social media management, to infographic creation. All at a cost that London agencies would not get out of bed for.

The latest development in Mumbai is to provide text-based web chat, adding an extra dimension to clients’ websites and allowing our experts (who have been trained as a team in the client’s business issues) to handle queries and solve problems, passing the knottiest issues over to the client when necessary.

We have also come up with an ingenious solution to the remaining problems that used to afflict some call centres – namely the time differences between working days in the UK and Asia, and the cultural and linguistic differences.

For outbound calling and for inbound call handling, as a voice based service, we have engaged a highly educated and well-trained team of operators based in Sandton near Johannesburg. Only 1 hour ahead of the UK, they are able to handle British queries and make sales calls, as required. We provide easy trials for new clients so that they can find out just how effective this new service is, and what a difference it makes to web responses. Talk to us at Hannon Sales, and we’ll talk you through the advantages.

Can you blend the advantages of homeshore and offshore? I would say yes – they each have their place. For your particular market it might be that only British homeworkers can provide the detailed local knowledge or specific technical know-how that are required for detailed Q and As: while for the bulk of more basic queries or for lead generation, the offshore team will be better value and will be more than capable of handling the issue.

So you could say it’s back to the future – everything goes in cycles and now that the Web dominates our lives, people are looking for good old-fashioned human contact again. If your business is not set up to provide that, then be sure that your competitor will.