The Register is quoting sources saying that Tiscali will outsource the support for services within the Pipex Broadband and Voice divisions that it now owns to places like North Africa and India starting in January 2008.

If the jobs are outsourced there will of course be redundancies at existing call centres, and it looks like this may be up to 650 jobs across the various call centres. The job losses are apparently to take place in three rounds starting in January 2008 and ending in April 2008.

“Following the acquisition of The Pipex broadband and voice division in September, alignment of our key operations is important to ensure we maximise the opportunity for the Tiscali UK Group moving forward.
Where we can make decisions we are moving forward quickly, but we are in an internal consultation process with employees and will not discuss specific plans or sites outside of that.”

Tiscali Statement

Overseas call centres are commonplace within many areas of customer service these days. All too often it seems this is done as a cost cutting exercise or as a way of improving things like measurable statistics (e.g. call answer time, time to close tickets etc) as opposed to something that is much harder to judge and that is resolving an issue to the satisfaction of the customer. The fact a call centre is overseas does not mean it is automatically bad, but staff are at a disadvantage immediately as there is no way they can be using the same broadband service at home, and are much more reliant on what management tells them about how things work.

We hope Tiscali with these moves will take a close look at the level of service that will be offered as a result of the changes, and ensure support does not become just another support by checklist operation. The Pipex customers include consumers and small businesses from a number of suppliers Pipex itself acquired over the years, so if people perceive a negative change in support levels, loyalty could easily stretch to breaking point.