So Norwich Union, as well as raising their premiums by a huge amount, are now ‘downsizing’ 4,000 of their workers and transferring 1,000 call centre jobs to India. At least the staff cuts will reduce their overheads, so they’ll be able to cut premiums… D’Oh! It also raises questions about their stated reason for the redundancies – that they needed fewer staff.

Whilst hopefully they won’t have any incidents with customer’s personal details being sold by unscrupulous workers, they ought to bear in mind people’s experiences of offshore workers.

Most people have an Indian call centre horror story. I tried to get some train times once, only to be told that there was no such place as Cheltenham in the UK. The man was so insistent that the “Centre for the Cotswolds” did not exist that he was not even swayed when I told him I had lived there for 21 years of my life.

They should also take a close look at the consumer research being done into the Indian call centre phenomenon.

For example, there was a survey reported in the Observer which makes for very worrying reading. 51% of respondents described themselves as “appalled” by foreign call centres in the insurance industry. 87% said that they thought overseas call centres were not good for the UK economy. And a mere 28% thought that the reduced costs associated with foreign call centres would result in cheaper premiums.

Only 5% thought that levels of customer service would improve as a result of offshoring. Among the complaints were factors such as difficult accents, poor knowledge of the UK and the use of formulaic scripts at every stage of the call.

The people who commissioned the survey? Well of course it was Aviva – owners of Norwich Union!

Here at Adrian Flux, we employ 300 local staff, we’re hiring more as I type and we don’t have any foreign call centres. That means when you call us for a motor insurance quote, you will be speaking to a knowledgeable enthusiast based right here in Norfolk.

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