Jangled Nerves, not Jingoism

January 5th, 2009 | Sources: Washington Post

Subjects: ,

In that thoroughly modern moment of desperation when your computer has frozen tighter than the credit market and it needs to be fixed like right now so you’ve dialed tech support, few things are as absurdly frustrating as an unintelligible foreign voice on the other end of the line.

But that happens quite frequently because companies can save 50-70% on call center costs by outsourcing the function to places like Bangalore and Manila.

Now Dell is offering an alternative. For $99 per year, new computer buyers can purchase a service package which comes with technical support based in North America, guaranteed.

And your call will be answered in 2 minutes or less.

Sans upgrade though, you’re likely to get someone from the Philippines, India or some other place that has a contract to provide technical support for Dell.

“We’ve heard from customers that it’s hard to understand a particular accent and that they couldn’t understand the instructions they were getting,” Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman told the Washington Post. “This (new plan) illustrates Dell’s commitment to customer choice.”

Lyn Kramer, who operates a call-center consulting business isn’t buying that, however. “Most people in the customer service world believe that if you have sold me a product, then support for that product should be free,” she told the Post.

Meanwhile Sharmila Rudrappa, a native of Bangalore and professor of sociology at UT Austin added the issue had nothing to do with racism.

“When things go haywire, you want assurance, you want familiarity, you want someone to hold your hand and say it’s OK…you don’t want…to have to work at understanding the person at the other end of the line.”

And since when did the accents of Nashville, Boston, and Nova Scotia become so easy to understand?


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