Saturday, July 25, 2020

In the Absense of Good It Must be Outsourced (Updated)

Twenty years ago as a local reporter, I listened as each level of government made the case for outsourcing its low level jobs to support private business.  Efficiency, lower costs and all manner of other reasons were brought out but the little voice in the back of my head said, "This isn't going to be good." I had no idea, then, that it would only take a unscripted viral pandemic to highlight all the problems that "government efficiency" set into motion. 

In my mind there was, and still is, no substitute for the lady at the front desk who has been with the company for 20 years, or the bottom level jack-of-all-trades that knew more about the company than the person with the big title and matching paycheck. While it might have been a surprise to elected officials, the Great Resignation was ever so predictable as the last highly skilled, excellent memory and thinking skills workers make their exit from today's workplace. It is even sadder that many of these people had to leave it, not in retirement but in a traumatic and sudden death.

What was once a well-managed, highly accountable businesss community is now a complicated network of companies that are so disjointed no one has accountability. it is the person at the front desk, the waitress at the counter or the receptionist at the doctor's office who now listens to the complains and the customer who must live with the errors that are never corrected,, the bills that never come in the mail and the sheer anger that comes into play when the answer is "The computer says. . . . ."


The image here was 'borrowed" from a company website Outsourcing Insights.  The website was chosen totally at random and with no prior experience on my part.  And while I may not think much of the practice of 'outsourcing', the use of this symbol in no way indicates that the business is anything but professional. Illustrating the complexity of the outsourcing model better that I could do in a 1000 words or less, the image shows two computer users bridging some type of communication gap with multiple tools and people. 


My question has always been - How does involving more people in off-site locations who know nothing about you as a customer save time and money? Perhaps it works for the business but as a customer, I can't quite agree with the philosophy. 

Outsource was a natural offspring of the computer age that was necessary to support a world population that has tripled since the 1950s.  It wasn't about making something better, it was about creating work for all those people who were willing to work for low wages and benefits. 

Tell me again why the single income household is a bad idea.  Certainly, I wanted to do something with my life besides dust and do dishes but it seems like we could have come up with something better than spending countless hours on a phone talking to a person who is simply looking at a computer screen and trying to find an answer to a problem he/she has never even experienced. 

As we get a break from the pandemic over the summer, it will be interesting to see if customer service and call centers will become even more dysfunctional or whether they will actually become helpful. 

As much as I hope, customer service improves, I think it will take more than a few months of forced online shopping to do the trick. 😉