When 'Outsourcing' equals to 'Outsourcing Culpability

Is the impression i get when attempting to communicate with the customer service in Lovefilm.com. I really wish I could write in, maybe Urdu or Hindi, or be a slipper’s-throw from them so that i could do exactly that.

I’m assuming that the email customer service is located in India - provided through a company called ‘Sitel’ that provides such outsourcing to w.European companies. I’ve never had Indians not understand when I speak English, but not when it comes to Lovefilm. Either they just drag any rickshaw puller off the streets to service their calls, or the interviewer himself does not know how to speak English and thus can’t tell the difference between those who can and those who can’t. Or, perhaps, the customer service simply can’t be bothered.

No this is not just a ‘personal rant-n-rave article’ and I do have a point to make here, after the following,

Here’s an example,


As requested by myself, and confirmed by yourself, can you ensure
that i receive 3 DVDs in ONE envelope? I thought this was already
confirmed by yourselves, but i received 3 DVDs in separate envelopes this morning.


Dear Ed,
Thank you for your e-mail in regard to our recent dispatch to you.
We are very sorry to hear that you have not received the 3 DVDs
('Resident Evil', 'Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope' and 'Star Wars:
Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back').

I suppose one of the reasons why i shave my head is so that i can avoid pulling out my hair at times like this.

And at the bottom of this completely irrelevant response was,

“Have we done something that's really made you go ‘WOW’? Why not
nominate us for an award? The WOW awards are the only Customer Service
awards based on your nominations. Go to http://www.thewowawardswebs.co.uk/lovefilm
to find out more.“

So I obediently went to the aforelinked address and...

Nominee : None of them

Comment: The customer service, 7 out of 10 times, don’t seem to understand English. For instance, I can request that all my dvds be sent in one envelope, and they’d respond by apologising for my not having received my dvds. ??? If your inquiry or request is straightforward and common, they respond well. If it is not, they respond with what they are accustomed to responding to even if it has absolutely nothing to do with your query. It is these cretins who make the normal staff look exceptional.

So, the, ‘WOW! What nonsensical service!’, award should certainly go to Lovefilm. I’ve never encountered this with any service before. Lovefilm better do something about this instead of outsourcing their culpability in bad customer service, and having the cheek to solicit for nominations.

But this got me thinking. About the 'outsourcing of culpability' that is. Previously, a company can be taken to task for bad customer service as their customer service is a part of their company and located as far from another department as they all located from the water cooler. So when you complain about the customer service, the management can’t say, "Hey, it’s not our company, it’s the customer service." Whether you want to consider their products is also dependent on their associated customer service. It is perceived to be a part the product as the CS is part of the company.

But with outsourcing, the company can say, "Hey, the customer service is not our company". The company can continue to rake in the profits whilst claiming that all screw-ups are due to an outsourced customer service, or the mail delivery system in my case. It makes the company even more untouchable.

are companies that outsource their customer service, or other services, depending on us to be ‘reasonable and objective’ enough to not blame them and continue giving them our custom
And the more reasonable and objective amongst us will also appreciate that it is not the company which is at fault but those they outsourced their customer service to. The point is, are companies that outsource their customer service, or other services, depending on us to be ‘reasonable and objective’ enough to not blame them and continue giving them our custom, whilst they tell us that they will do something about their outsourced CS. And if this takes time, we might excuse them and be more tolerant as we understand that it takes more time for one company to change another than for one company to effectuate an attitudinal shift in one of its own departments contained within the same building or country.

And given that they outsource their customer service, how are we supposed to contact the mother company in the first place to kick them about their bad outsourced customer service? In the case of Lovefilm, you can call the local office, but the fellow answering the call is another customer service staff and he might not highlight this matter to the management, and nor is he responsible for the bad outsourced CS. And on top of that, calls are charged.

And what happens when more and more companies start doing this? When the exceptionally bad becomes the pervasive norm, how are people going to move on to a better alternative? Wouldn’t that lead them to compensate for it by accepting it and then, like the Confucians of China and s.e.Asia, do their best within a evil system by becoming evil themselves? It isn’t far fetched. It is just a simply domino effect that has multiple sources and which are already knocking their way into the future.



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