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Call-centre chaos is going to get worse

So Direct Line Life & Pensions is thinking about following a long line of competitors who have relocated their UK call centres to India.

Everyone, but everyone seems to have a nightmare story to tell about their dealings with call-centre staff in this country. The average IFA will probably bore you silly with a series of banging-their-head-against-the-wall experiences.

Why the problems? Well, the approach to training seems to be very regimented. There are systems, scripts, procedures, flowcharts…you name it and they have got it, except experience, discretion, initiative, judgement and common sense.

Ask the average operative a question which fits the system and no problem but, and it&#39s a big but, try asking a non-standard question that does not fit the system and see what happens.

Either you get meaningless waffle or the dreaded “We&#39ll get right back to you.” But don&#39t hold your breath.

Now overlay this problem with major cultural differences and coping with a second language full of jargon and colloquial expressions and where does this leave the average caller? (And this is from someone who is ardently anti-racist).

Is this trend in the interests of investor protection? What exactly are the guardians of investor protection, the FSA, doing about this? They seem to be scarily quiet on the subject. Are they actively monitoring the competencies of these overseas operatives, or merely relying on the N2-based regulations covering front and back-office staff? Are sufficient checks in place to ensure that customer service is protected?

Is it a case of proactively investigating the impact this trend is having on training and competence issues or is the FSA&#39s chief locksmith merely going to fiddle with the stable door after the Indian horse has bolted?

Michael Lindsey

Linslade, Leighton Buzzard

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