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self service and outsourcing

September 2, 2006

As customer service organizations continue to look at ways to reduce operational costs, drive greater productivity, and enable users to help themselves, many businesses have made the adoption of customer self-service a key priority. At the same time the economics of outsourcing remain compelling, especially in countries like India and the Philippines, where labor costs continue to be significantly lower than in the United States, Europe, or parts of Asia, such as Korea.

But can companies make up for the potential loss of customer intimacy if clients are helping themselves online, or chatting with other users in a forum, rather than interacting with the firm's agents? If a business chooses to outsource and another company is answering the client's phones (or emails or chats), does that enterprise face the same risks? And what about political issues? Is it more acceptable to replace staff with a support portal versus an offshore call center?

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