A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Lebanon calling

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 8, 2009

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been reading about the Lebanese Ministry of Communications’ plans to encourage the establishment of call centers in Lebanon, starting with the ten contracts it signed in late March. Earlier this month, the telecomm industry newsite TMCnet reported that one of these contracted firms, Call Center International, is moving ahead with its plans to open five call centers throughout Lebanon. Although CCI is a California-based firm, it will operate in Lebanon as a local branch (with a largely non-functional website) in partnership with a U.S. firm called InContact, whose software will route calls placed in the U.S. to Lebanese customer service agents.

The TMCnet articles notes thatThis move [by the Ministry] is part of the Lebanese government’s efforts to try and provide more jobs for its workforce, which is considered to be well educated and highly skilled. In addition to the licenses, the Lebanese government has also pledged to provide full support and encouragement of the new business.”

I’m all for initiatives to bring more service jobs to Lebanon – especially those located outside of Beirut -, and to diversify its employment sectors. And if this expansion comes with increased education and professional training opportunities, so much the better. (CCI Senior Corporate Advisor William Robertson is quoted in the article as saying, “One of our key focus areas includes the development of online distance education for schools, government agencies, and higher learning institutions.”)

On the other hand, I’ve had some fairly scarring outsourced call service experiences. Foreign customer service agents seem measurably less interested in customer service, sadly. More importantly, they seem much less willing to take a creative, problem-solving approach to the problems that necessitate calling the service line in the first place.

I don’t think this latter issue will carry over to Lebanon, but I do worry about the type of problem solving they might suggest. I can just imagine myself calling to contest a credit card charge, or to be rebooked when my scheduled flight is late, and being asked whether I have any relatives or friends who work at the mis-charging store, or at the carrier whose flight I want to switch to. Its better if you know somebody, I can hear my friendly Lebanese helper telling me.

I’m not sure that this is a problem-solving approach that I want brought to the U.S. :).

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