We’ve all been there. You’re having a problem with your computer or some other electronic device. You call the company best suited to fix your issue, expecting to speak with a knowledgeable technical support expert, with an engineering degree hanging on their wall alongside bunches of certificates flaunting how utterly brilliant they are. But that’s not who you end up talking to, is it? No, the person you’re routed to isn’t much of an expert at all. It’s someone in a foreign country, who might have a gripping command of the English language for all you know, but speaks with such a miserably thick accent that you may as well buy a Rosetta Stone box set and learn their native language yourself. You could probably get that done before they even take you off of hold, so why not? And worse still, chances are you know more about computers than they do. Why even bother calling to begin with?
Outsourcing tech support is slightly less popular than having unprotected sexual intercourse with one of the Kardashian sisters. So why do so many companies do it? Simply put, they like money, and outsourcing saves them quite a bit of it. Worse still, they’re fully aware that offering crummy tech support for their products, or even terrible customer service in general, isn’t going to hurt them much in the long run. Most Americans will whine about poor customer service, but begrudgingly accept it as a new facet of our culture, simply because we don’t want to spent too much of our time unplugged, without our fancy gadgets.
So long as other countries can offer tech support and customer service cheaper than the United States can, companies will continue to outsource to places like India, the country that takes in the most tech support jobs. But if a company really, truly cared about their customers, they wouldn’t do that; they’d open call centers in the United States, Canada, or Great Britain. Why? Because you’re more likely to find talented tech support employees in those countries.
Census data from 2012 shows that only 20% of households in urban India have a desktop or laptop, while only 5% have either in rural areas. Only 3% of households in the whole country have any sort of internet connection. Compare this to the United States, where nearly 80% of households have computers and internet access. But wait a minute… isn’t India’s population way higher than the United States’? Yes, it definitely is. The population of India is 1,241,491,960 (that’s 1.24 billion), whereas the population of the United States is only 313,914,040. But the stat we’re looking at is households. There are 192 million households in India, while the United States has 115 million households. That means 48 million Indian households (25%) have computers, while 92 million American households (80%) have computers. And when we start to look at the conditions of those computers, operating system popularity, households with internet access, households with multiple computers, computer education stats, and everything else… yeah, let’s just stop with the numbers. America wins. There isn’t much of a competition here, really.
What do these stats really tell us? Simply put, it’s easier to find an American with a decent working knowledge of computers than someone in India. That isn’t to say there aren’t people in India far more advanced in their computer knowledge than, say, I am. I can guarantee there are people in India that know more than I do, actually. But a call center packed with Americans, who were raised in our tech culture and require electricity like they need food and water, will have a stronger base of knowledge to work off of during training, and a more comprehensive personal knowledgebase to work from, than a call center packed with people from a country where computers are such a tremendous luxury.
So keep that in mind the next time you’re sitting around waiting for tech support over the phone. Sure, they might have a heavy accent that you can barely understand. But there are some Americans, born and raised right here in the USA, with even worse accents. Visit the south or call a random household in Massachusetts (sorry Noel!) and tell me I’m wrong. All joking aside, though, I hope you came away from this article with a better appreciation of things. Don’t blame the tech support guy when he suggests something that inevitably doesn’t work. If anything, you should blame the company. Maybe if you complain a bit, they’ll give you free stuff? Just an idea.