Santander's Indian call centres to return to UK

8th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish-owned Santander UK is returning its Indian call centres to Britain following a high number of complaints from customers, the bank said on Friday.

The shift of the bank's operations from the southern city of Bangalore and Pune, near Mumbai, is seen as a blow to India's flagship outsourcing sector.

"Santander UK is returning all of its Indian call centres to the UK so that all retail banking customers ringing the bank will have their call answered by a UK-based employee," the lender said in a statement.

"The move is part of Santander's programme to further improve the service it offers and follows feedback from customers who say dealing with an offshore call centre is a frustration that can lead to dissatisfaction."

All calls that have been handled in India since jobs were outsourced in 2003 will now being dealt with by staff in Glasgow, Leicester and Liverpool.

Some 500 extra staff have been recruited to handle the estimated 1.5 million calls per month. The group's British call centres currently employ a total of 2,500 staff.

Last week, telecommunications company New Call Telecom said it will move one of its offshore call centres from Mumbai to Burnley, in northwest England, because of increased costs.

Santander entered the British retail banking market with the 2004 purchase of lender Abbey National, which then became Abbey. The division was rebranded as Santander UK last year.

The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector directly employs 2.54 million workers in India and accounts for 6.4 percent of gross domestic product, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) estimates.

US and other foreign firms, drawn by India's large, educated and cheaper English-speaking workforce have farmed out a wide range of jobs from answering bank client calls and answering train timetable enquiries to IT support.

India recently lost its crown as the call centre capital of the world to the Philippines but still accounts for 55 percent of the global outsourcing market.

Sanjeev Hota, who tracks the sector with Mumbai-based equity research firm Sharekhan, told AFP that financial considerations were becoming a factor for overseas firms.

"Salaries have been increasing for the last 18 months and at the same time land and infrastructure has also gone up," Hota told AFP.

"The costs for a business five years ago are not going to be the same as in five years' time."

Smaller Indian companies offering only third-party call centre operations would struggle to survive as bigger players like software outsourcers Wipro, Infosys and TCS diversified, he added.

© 2011 AFP

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