I'm bemused (for those who think that means "happy", it actually means bewildered and confused) at the article in today's Kapiti Observer on the rumours of TelstraClear's call centre in Kapiti potentially closing down and upping sticks to Manila, or some country without a minimum wage and many willing workers, anyway.
What is bemusing me with this article isn't that there is concern about potential job losses, or the impact on Kapiti's economy (although I did laugh at that one), or the loss of New Zealanders answering phone calls from New Zealanders. What is bemusing me is that there is actually a TelstraClear call centre. In New Zealand.
I had no idea. Whenever I have tried to ring TelstraClear, I am faced with a suicidal voice "recognition" system, where the only phrase that gets you connected to an operator is "FARK OFF BEFORE I KILL MYSELF" (I give you permission to use this phrase without fear of copyright), and then the person who answers comes with one of the following names: Jamal, Karim, Abdul, Mohammad, Satish, Ravi, Kamahl, Shoshanna, Malik..... and has an accent that is very hard to decipher. And from the advice provided, their location is questionable, but is presumably not New Zealand.
The fact that they are possibly overseas, though, doesn't bother me if the quality of advice provided is adequate. In TelstraClear's case, it never is.
What does this call centre do, exactly? Clearly, from the comments by the call centre workers in the Kapiti Observer, it is possible at some point in the TelstraClear chain to be connected to these people who apparently care enough about their jobs to "improve customer service and maintain its competitiveness". And here I was thinking that the majority of Kapiti TelstraClear customers are only so because calls to Wellington are free with TelstraClear and are toll calls with Telecom. If there's a secret voice recognition code for this good customer service, I want to know it.
And, as for the quote in the article (verbatim follows):
I always thought TelstraClear were good and cared about their staff but in reality now it comes down to it they don't. We are just a figure and they're just after profit.Quite. And so they should be. TelstraClear is a business, not a welfare agency (or, clearly, interested in improving literacy). Yes, it's an awful feeling to have just taken out a mortgage only to now find yourself redundant. But that's just the way things are. As the person paying the phone bill, I want to know that the company is doing what it can to ensure its costs to me are minimised. If this means the company has to move part of its business to a country with a cheaper and more efficient call centre operation, then so be it.
I wait with baited breath to see if the Filipinos can offer a superior customer service. They won't have to try too hard. Or perhaps I should start learning my Filipino swear words.