Cranky Flier learns the importance of United’s call center geography.
I’ve had countless problematic interactions with some Indian agent conveniently named “Mark” or “Mr Smith” or anything else generically American in the past, and I’ve rarely left the call feeling satisfied. In fact, I consider it a victory if I find an agent that I can actually understand, so when I had to call the reservations line this week, I braced for the worst.
The agent that answered the phone had a slight accent and tone that led me to believe he was Filipino. First victory: I could understand him. I told him my situation, and he surprisingly didn’t have to ask for clarification. He pulled up my reservation, said that the $25 phone reservations fee didn’t apply, and quickly took care of it for me. Then he took my address and said the remaining $32 of the credit would just be sent to me in the mail for future use.
(Emphasis above mine.)
What Cranky has stumbled onto is that there is a difference between international call centers. Usually it’s a matter of training and whether the agents in intenrational call centers have received enough of an investment to learn what they’re supposed to do. With United, it’s really simple in general to know whether you’ll have a generally good or generally bad experience with your outsourced phone call. It’s summed up simply as: India bad, Manila Good.
Now, calls abroad usually take longer. But US agents aren’t a panacea, I frequently get cranky agents out of Chicago (Honolulu has been good to me). If I’m ever trying to push the envelope I like Manila because they’re less likely to document my reservation with something unpleasant than are US agents, if only because they are less confident in themselves. US agents tend to be certain of the rules, even when they’re wrong. Manila agents will frequently have to ‘check their resources’ to ask permission or clarification on things, but will usually try to be helpful. And those hold times can be interminable. But in the end you’ll get what you need more often than not. And sometimes even when you aren’t quite supposed to. Indian call center agents on the other hand are less than unhelpful. Hang up and try again.