Convergys To Move Call Centers From Canada To Overseas

Convergys is a major supplier of outsourced call center services to big companies (Comcast is one of their clients) and it looks like times are tough for them up in Canuckiztan:

Convergys chief executive David Doughtery told analysts “most notably we’re being hurt today in Canada and we are taking action to close centres there and move work to other geographies.” Many of the Canadian jobs will likely go to the Philippines and possibly India..

Which we suppose qualifies as a resounding yes to the question, “can customer service get any worse?”

Execs share scary thoughts for scary times [The Ottawa Citizen via ConvergysSucks]

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  1. Hm, I had no idea Comcast originally outsourced to Canada. My experiences with their customer service have been… slighty less than Canadian, shall we say…

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    How mobile are these outsourced call-center CSRs between clients?

    Because I have a suspicion that people not working for an organization long enough to know what the fuck is part of the problem.

  3. Meat_Shield says:

    Way back I used to work for them (I left in Dec 2001) – not in the call center division (MATRIXX) but in their IT consulting division (CBIS). Every Christmas it was the same thing – how many people are going to get laid off this time? They do it every year. I’m very happy to not be there any more. Uncaring corporate b*******. They didn’t even pretend to put people over profits, which I guess means they were honest at least.

  4. QuirkyRachel says:

    Wait, they’re customer service is that bad and they’ve been Canadians?! Wow am I glad I don’t have Comcast anymore….

  5. Snarkysnake says:

    “move work to other geographies.”

    Damn ! That was a noser !
    Fucking carbonated beverages…

  6. JustAGuy2 says:

    Canadian call centers made sense (just like making movies in Canada) when the Canadian dollar was US$0.75. Now that they’re at parity, that’s the equivalent of a 33% increase in the price of Canadian labor (in US$ terms).

  7. floyderdc says:

    @QuirkyRachel:
    Comcast really only outsources collections to Canada. Most of the “customer service” is local. I used to work there and we only did local customer service. I did see job postings all over the place for customer service.

  8. misteral says:

    While the justification of a rising dollar against the Canadian dollar makes sense, it can be a weird justification. The USD has been falling against ALL currencies. The Canadian dollar will fall again, and when you add in the intangibles such as (presumably) having native English speakers

  9. m16 says:

    Actually, Comcast is not one of the bigger Convergys contracts.
    Charter is decent bigger.
    TWC Roadrunner was huge, and still is big.
    And like Floyderdc said, I don’t think Comcast is tech support, just collections and billing.

    If you did get a Canadian, they are about 100% better then their American counter parts.

  10. racerchk says:

    I used to work for Convergys here in Canada. I worked on the At&T wireless. We took calls from the americans and holy let me tell you they are some of the rudest customers i have ever dealt with and I have worked in 3 different call centres. That is besides the point though. My point here is that the starting wage at Convergys was $10/hr and that was about 3 years ago when i worked there. I’m sure its gone up by now. So yeah I can see why they would outsource thier calls to the phillipens. Convergys goes though so many employees – they are one of the worst companies I have ever worked for – they are spending so much on training and employees are quitting left and right in all their centres.

  11. QuantumRiff says:

    Give our economy a couple of years, they’ll be coming back here cause its so cheap.

  12. jonnypage says:

    Sucks for Edmonton, Dell just closed up shop and took 900 jobs and ~$45 million in broken tax break promises with them..

  13. Parting says:

    @misteral: Canadian dollar won’t fall, it’s the USD currency that should rise in value to get back where it was previously.

    By the currency is just an excuse to move the call center. Now callers will have to deal with horrible accents from overseas. (I hate calling Amex in English and getting an Indian every time, I never understand anything). Cutting cost = cutting customer service. Now to resolve same issue you’ll have to call a dozen of times in a row. So the company will lose customers in the end, more than saving couple of bucks on salaries.

  14. Parting says:

    @jonnypage: Now Edmonton should claim these tax breaks back.

  15. Parting says:

    @HRHKingFriday: You get what you pay for :) Local companies pay 15$-16$ per hour for call center employee. Outsources, like Comcast, usually pay 10$-11$. Those who pay most, get best employees in the end. So you deal with ”left-overs” or simply less experienced / competent employees. Usually these, once they get some experience, they skip boat to better paying call centers.

  16. femmeknitzi1 says:

    I’d say that bad customer service is becoming an American standard, but how do we even determine whether or not a company is “American?” If their stock is held by businessmen in Dubai, they import their raw materials from Africa, export their products to China and their employees are from Malaysia, then does just having a Yankee CEO make a company American?

  17. shadow735 says:

    Great More customer service with reps that have such a thick accent that I waste 80% of the call having them repeat themselves so I can translate to understand what they are saying.

  18. I used to work for one of their predecessor companies (Software Support(1)) back in 1994ish on the AT&T GIS contract(2). Pay wasn’t great, of course; I was in high school, and most employees didn’t stick around for more than two or three years.

    On the gripping hand, we did actually have some employees with a clue. Even though we only operated the support line for mass-market computers, you could still call us with a question about one of their x86 servers and get more than “Are you running Windows 3.1 or 95?”

    (1) Lake Mary, Florida.

    (2) The bit that sold to consumers. Their computers sucked. I especially hated the WinModems-their drivers weren’t exactly the highest-quality software I’ve seen.

  19. JiminyChristmas says:

    @misteral: The dollar may be falling against almost all currencies, but the USD is currently at a 25-year-low relative to the CAD.

    This time last year one USD would get you about $1.20 Canadian. When I went to Quebec this past August, one USD got me $1.04 Canadian. Right now it’s pretty much 1:1. Meanwhile, so long as the Fed keeps whacking interest rates, and we keep running enormous budget deficits, there is no sign that the USD will make a remarkable recovery anytime soon.

    So, it seems like it could easily make short-term economic sense. Of course, that would be the short-term sense. In a conversational setting it’s typically not hard to understand someone who speaks English as a second language. However, trying to figure out accounting and billing screwups, or computer troubleshooting…totally different ballgame.

  20. dapuddle says:

    It may COST more to have ‘Canadians’ or ‘Americans’ answering phones for Comcast or whoever.

    Consider this however, have you EVER been satisfied with someone who can barley speak English, or even if they can, just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’.

    A holy rule of business is keep your current customers, it’s far cheaper than finding new ones.

  21. CVGemployeeNG says:

    No Big surprise i currently work for COnvergys and when the become relaxed with there policies and procedure that means nothing good is coming out of it. Usually is is loosing of a contract not the closure of a center. But hey the Canadian dollar is up the American economy is down. They got to do what they got to do.

  22. Parting says:

    @dapuddle: Cost won’t really go down, because people will call several times now, to resolve the issue. Plus, as you stated, satisfaction will go down.

  23. SacraBos says:

    I worded for a place that outsourced the level 1 stuff to Canada. I advised that them that if they were going to outsource, Canada would be good, since they speak native English and are in the same time zone. I’ve worked with places that outsource half-way around the world, and they ALWAYS want to push a task out until “tomorrow, when the XXXX come in”. We’re in business hours NOW, not at midnight, and waiting until the next day every time an issue comes up kills productivity.

  24. mike says:

    I find it amazing that to cut costs, companies get rid of the very people who make the biggest impact on the company.

    Consumers don’t care about the CEO. They care about customer service.

  25. Meat_Shield says:

    @Brad Ackerman: You’re frightening me, Brad. I joined in 1996 as a developer when it was still CBIS in the group that was working on getting a universal bill for AT&T.

    (And great reference with the ‘gripping hand’)

  26. mamacat49 says:

    OH NO! Please don’t tell me that my Roadrunner call center (currently coming out of somewhere in Ontario) is moving. Those people are absolutely the best CS I’ve ever dealt with. TimeWarner sucks, but my RR is fantastic.

  27. NewsReader says:

    Well as a Comcast customer I am sorry to see the customer service reps move to India or where ever for that matter. I have spoken to the Newfinland center a number of times and have been more then happy with their customer service. The people that I have spoken with may not have always fixed my service but they were very friendly people to speak with. At least with them I could understand them and enjoy my time on the phone with them, even though I was not enjoying my service, now what? I have to speak with someone who doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand them?? That should make for a fun experience!

  28. ewdp00 says:

    i work at Convergys in one of the centers that may be closing down in canada. we were all upset we had to find this out through the media. its upsetting to know that one day we could go into work to find out the next day there isn’t a job for us. the center im in employs roughly 700-800 people. as i read above (and not to sound racist.biased)…when the americans we talk to find out they are speaking to a canadian they always say that they are happy we at least speak english. i guess ruining lives of employees who have worked diligently for their company for years means nothing. its always been a part of bigger business practice….they did out source to canada in the beginning to save money. now they go to wherever its cheapest, sigh. we are ranked as one of the 3 highest profiting centers of all convergys….guess they just want more more more

  29. canadiantwizz says:

    I have worked for Convergys in management now for over 3 years in two different Canadian sites. Another site besides Edmonton just announced closure and now I feel like a sitting duck with two choices… a. Wait and stress myself finding out whether I still have a job or b. Move on to a job where I feel more secure… hmm bye Convergys.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I work for Convergys GM Call Center in Canada and we are closing as of Oct. 2009 and they jobs are be moved overseas!! We support and help customers and dealership in the United States. I think it is outrageous that they are closing GM Call Centers in the United States and Canada and giving the jobs to overseas companies!! In the center that I work in, alot of the customer tell us they have a hard time with language issues. I am not putting down the people overseas but why close GM Call Centers in the United States and Canada instead of overseas???? Guess I will never understand since GM is suppose to be American Made!!