Powergen brings 980 call centre jobs back home from India

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The Independent Online

Powergen, Britain's second-biggest energy supplier, is bringing back its call centre operations from India, leading to 980 UK jobs being created by the end of the year.

The move, announced yesterday, forms part of a nascent trend of companies moving jobs back to Britain: Abbey was forced to shut its call centres in India last year after customers' reported unhappiness with the bank's 1,000 call centre staff in Bangalore.

Calls to Powergen, owned by Germany's E.ON, will now be answered by an adviser in the UK.

The managing director, Nick Horler, said: "Offshore call centres may have their place for certain industries. However, we believe that we can best achieve industry-leading customer service by operating solely in the UK."

He added: "Although the cost of overseas outsourcing can be low, we're simply not prepared to achieve savings at the risk or expense of customer satisfaction." The company has also decided to run the call centres itself. It will raise the starting salary for all new British-based call centre staff, who will not have call targets, "so advisers are focused on fully resolving a query rather than answering a specific number of calls". The group also said it was launching new, clearer bills for its six million customers.

India's outsourcing industry has seen meteoric growth as UK businesses have moved large chunks of customer service and data processing operations to the subcontinent to save money. Africa is also growing in importance as a global call centre.

However, some Indian companies are moving "near-shore", as they call it, to run call centres from the UK. ICICI OneSource said this week it would open two call centres in Northern Ireland, creating 1,000 jobs. ICICI's rival, HCL, opened an outlet in Belfast last year.