“On-Shoring” Customer Service?On the Cusp of Becoming a Competitive Differentiator?


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Last week, for the very first time, I found myself choosing a technology vendor with the #1 selection criteria being “on-shore” customer service. I was taken aback at my own thoughts, but couldn’t dispute what I was doing?or why. As a some of you know from reading recent posts, I’ve had a roller coaster customer service ride over the past month.

First, I had an amazingly positive service experience with IBM/Lenovo, an experience that’s continued as they wrestle with a repetitive but intermittent issue. But I don’t resent the continuance, because they’re pulling out all the stops to fix it, and if the last fix doesn’t hold, they’re prepared to replace everything except the hard drive in my work station (can’t go to a new machine without me losing Windows XP, which I’m not up for right now). They’re really putting forth the effort. Oh, BTW, the contact center and all service management reside on-shore in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Next, I had the opposite experience with H-P, including one CSR who couldn’t understand English and a second who only understood what he wanted to hear. That culminated in him telling me I had to agree to pay for service, whether they fixed the problem or not. As you might guess, they couldn’t fix it. I finally did. Not only did I blog about this incident, but frequent contributor David Sims from Customer Think amplified it more recently in, “Kneeing Customers in the Groin — the HP Way.” I finally received a phone call, an apology and a refund from HP?but the offending policy still stands, just waiting for my next technical issue.

Finally, my web/e-mail host, iPower, had an SMTP server outage for what has now become too many times. But for days after the server problems began the folks in India told me I had a problem in my system I had to fix – and the network was fine. This time I did understand what they were saying?all two words and seven letters of it. And when I googled “iPower” for fun, I encountered a torrent of complaints, some from people who’d lost e-mail service days before we had. When I finally reached someone in the U.S., I objected to india refusing to admit iPower had a problem. The response? If you sign up for a premium hosting service (which offers nothing we need) you’ll get onshore service.

My response? I’m replacing iPower?with a host that features on-shore service.

That got me to thinking. I’m now susceptible to technology product/service selection based on whether customer service is on-shore or off-shore. And unless I’m an anomaly, the tolerance of off-shore customer service is hitting a breaking point. And companies that don’t go back on-shore risk feeling a cold shoulder from customers sooner rather than later.

Yet one more example of how customers taking matters into their own hands.


  1. Dick

    I empathise, but I feel a cliche approaching. Ah yes, here it is. In my experience, there are no hard and fast rules about off-shore customer service. Some are good, some are bad. And on-shore customer service? Yes, it’s the same – some are good, some are bad (but most are just OK).

    Where I live, in Australia, just north of the Antarctic, we have a small population of about 22 million. For many businesses, that’s not enough to justify investment in market-specific customer service. I talk to agents in Indonesia, Malaysia and India when I have problemns with cellphone, PC or software. I’ve had extraordinarily excellent service from Microsoft’s off-shore service center (apart from being called ‘mate’ by someone who doesn’t know me from Adam) and extraordinarily lousy service from an on-shore ISP service centre who responded to my service request by trying to upsell me. I hate that!

    As for your general point that customers are beginning to consider whence comes service. No problems, mate. This is surely true.

    Francis Buttle, PhD
    The Customer Champion


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