can’t see the forest

Outsourcing’s Out—Virtual CSRs Are In

Posted in business, humor, Satire, Social and Politics by Curtis on 9/7/06

Every morning I come speeding up in my Boxster to the Tell It Like It Is Corporate Headquarters here in cloudy Portland, Oregon. I storm purposefully through the revolving door and greet Sally, our receptionist. I make my way through the sea of 4’x4′ cubicles to my spacious, well-appointed office, where I log in to check my email and get my four hour workday started.

Tell It Like It Is - CSR Tier 2 TeamEach morning for the past few weeks, in passing by the managerial endcaps of the eighteen rows of Tier One Customer Service Representatives and offering my perfunctory greetings to the supervisors, thoughts of outsourcing at least the majority of my high-tech call center to Jamaica or to India have been materializing with more and more clarity and urgency. Profits are up, but they could be up so much more. Why cage an eagle that longs to soar? The savings, of course, are passed along to you. In a manner of speaking, that is. We have a PowerPoint presentation on that in the works.

This morning, however, whilst checking out ratings and favorites at Technorati, I realized that the idea of maximizing long-term profits through next-to-unpaid labor in a third-world market is…woefully obsolete.

If you’ve been to Technorati lately, you might have seen a SitePal advertisement on the right-hand side of the page. SitePal offers a ‘virtual representative’ service to websites and the banner ad gives you the chance to input some text and watch just such a robo-rep turn your letters into spoken verbiage. That’s not even the coolest part…you can create virtual representatives of any race and with any hairstyle, dress, and fashion accessories your business needs might require.

So, I typed in: “Crikey! That stingray killed Steve Irwin!” and the sumptuous-looking cyberdame vocalized my assertion with an uncanny emotional depth. Without even the slightest regard for the meaning of my input—since she is, after all, a computer program—she truly sounded as if my business were important to her, as if her very e-livelihood depended upon resolving any crocodile hunter-related issues I might have as quickly and efficiently as possible. She then suffixed with: “I can work twenty-four hours a day without pay, or sleep.”

That’s when I realized the future is here. I can eliminate 70% of my overhead, and reduce pollution in my community by eliminating commutes and the jobs that create them! As if that weren’t enough to slap a ‘SOLD’ sign on my forehead, SitePal cites a Stanford study which proves that 90% of those surveyed said they preferred a website with a virtual CSR to a website without one! Tell It Like It Is had been operating according to Stone Age protocols; I’d been none the wiser.

It is with no emotional content of any kind that I can report: as of next Monday, there will no longer be any human beings picking up at 1-800-2TELLIT, and our website will feature ‘Click to Talk’ no more. That’s right: we’re doing away with the call center altogether. From that day forward, Tell It Like It Is’ customer service and feedreader retention departments will be manned solely by an online virtual Sally, modeled on my current receptionist of the same name—but without 3 PM parent-teacher conferences and migraine headaches and restroom breaks. You get the benefit! Like the other 253 employees in my state-of-the-art customer care facility, the real Sally has been invited to explore her options in the great big world beyond these walls. McDonald’s is hiring, I hear. 

It’s a great time to be alive. SitePal’s services start at just $9.95 per month. Crikey!

I can promise you, the loyal consumer, that by instituting these changes, Tell It Like It Is will not diminish or in any way compromise the quality of service you’ve come to know and love. Indeed, I think you’ll find Sally II even more prompt and able than anyone you’ve dealt with here before. My Chief Technical Officer has assured me that any and all bugs with the new software will be firmly under control by May 2015. Until then, we invite you to hop online to address your important suggestions, comments, or complaints to Sally II. She will faithfully notate them in a text log which will be reviewed by parsing software every thirty days. Just be sure to type slowly and distinctly.

Thank you for your understanding, and I hope you continue to enjoy Tell It Like It Is. Remember—work smarter, not harder. That’s the American Way at its best. Where has the time gone? I’m late for golf.

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3 Responses

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  1. peoplesgeography said, on 9/10/06 at 5:08 am

    The future is here!!! (already?!) Great piece and a bit scary. The only thing worse than being a wage slave for a call centre methinks (I’ve been there) is to have a virtual call centre … (you’ll have to excuse my UK English – we spell it centre …)

    Only a matter of time now before those virtual CSRs, customised hotties or not, start becoming sentient beings and start askin’ for some of them rights and a unionised workplace …now *that’s* futuristic.

  2. tellitlikeitis said, on 9/10/06 at 11:21 am

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I know, when computer programs start asking when the cappuccino machine is going to be fixed, that’s payback time.

  3. Skip Conover said, on 9/10/06 at 11:06 pm

    Ah, yes! But this is the story of the development of industry since time immemorial. Indeed, it is why the USA enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the World. We always have to reinvent ourselves into something even better. I know it’s a painful idea, especially when you want to find a better opportunity, but that’s the way it is. As Paul Simon had it in his “You’re the One” album, “That’s the way it’s always been, that’s the way I like it, that’s how I want it to be.” It’s always been good for me to remember that chorus, whenever I’ve run into life’s bumps in the road. Best regards, Skip

    PS It’s best to keep going to school until you find your niche. I spent 10 years in higher education, with 3 formal degrees and a diploma in Mandarin Chinese, before I found my ultimate best application of my talents. (Each degree should buy you one job. After that, you’re on your own, at least until you get your next degree.) Since 1979, I have literally flown around the world on business at least 100 times; if you like that sort of thing, it’s great!


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