"We watched our jobs disappear when HP opened its Costa Rica Solution Center, which caused a huge spike in the complaints and angry feedback from customers who had grown to trust HP support. There is no 'HP Way' culture in the new center because there is no one there to pass on that legacy. I am proud to have worked for a company that empowered me to give the best possible support to customers. It has been sad to watch HP slowly disintegrate and become just like any other company, concerned more with the bottom line than with being a company that sets the standard for support," Susan continues.
The hidden cost of offshore tech support
Gripe Line reader Ronald offered a story that demonstrates the circuitous route a support call can take on its way to being resolved, as well as the numerous bumps -- not just technical -- it can hit along the way.
Ronald writes, "In 2005, I was a PC Support Technician for Siemens Business Services, which was awarded a multi-million-dollar support contract from consulting firm Bearing Point nationwide (BE). Siemens turned around and outsourced Tier 1 support to an HP Call Center in India. If the HP technicians could not resolve a problem, they were instructed to escalate it to my division, Tier 2. We were physically located at BE branches in the U.S. The support techs in India were polite but had heavy accents, which often made it hard to understand their instructions. And their technical skills were sub-standard. Rumor had it that despite this lack of know-how, BE turned a blind eye because HP was an important consulting client."
Putting politics and geography between a question and its answer had one notable result for the customer: wasted time.
"I remember a couple of times where the offshored HP support tech wasted hours on the phone with a consultant before sending the call to us here at Tier 2," Ronald says. Once Ronald's Tier 2 support team got these callers, their problems were often easy to solve. Ronald clocked the resolution for one issue he received frequently at less than five minutes.
So why not teach the Tier 1 support in India to better solve these problems or quickly escalate them? "This was impossible," says Ronald. Not only was Tier 1 support on another continent and in another time zone and culture, it was in another company. "As far as we were concerned, India was on another planet."
If it is the low cost of sending support offshore -- combined with advances in telephony that make these overseas calls easy and cheap -- Ronald suggests that companies take a harder look at the real costs, factoring in the wasted time, customer frustration, and the lack of productivity of the U.S company in need of support. "If BE's goal was to outsource to save money," says Ronald, "they failed miserably." In fact, BE filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2009.
"Corporate bean counters should look beyond the rock-bottom cost of outsourcing," suggests Ronald, "and instead audit the quality of support they plan to get this way."
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