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Dealing With Foreign Customer Service Reps

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms

Outsourcing customer service and tech support to other countries is a fact of life these days. While most of these reps speak pretty good English, (for some it’s their first language) it’s not necessarily the version of English you are used to speaking. Even within your own country, understanding accents from region to region can be a challenge. When you’re chatting with a fellow in an Indian call center, it can sound to both of you like you are not even speaking the same language.  Here are some tips to make the best of the situation.

Angry business woman shouting in mobile phone

Number one – and this applies to all situations in life – please be polite. The person on the other end of the line is probably doing their best. I realize that by the time you call for support, you are probably pretty darn frustrated. That’s not the fault of the person on the other end of the line.

Try not to use slang. Often times that just doesn’t translate between countries. Years ago, my  husband was trying to connect a router and he told the tech support guy that it was “jacked up.” The rep thought there was something wrong with a jack and kept saying that the router didn’t have a jack.

Do your best to speak slowly and clearly. To the person on the other end of the line, you’re the person with the accent.  It’s not a bad idea to write out a description of the problem to get your thoughts together before you call. Sometimes we tend to get into giving long narratives about the circumstances leading up to the problem instead of getting to the issue at hand.


Actually, all of these tips would work well for dealing with customer support anywhere.

You may have read a FB post or seen an e-mail that claims, “Come to find out that every American company using overseas operators must transfer you to an American rep. by saying “I want to speak to a representative in America.” (Don’t take no for an answer on this)

This was confirmed by the American rep. that they must transfer you after that request. I’ve tried it on a half a dozen major companies including cable, bank, phone and mortgage companies. It works every time and I actually get my issues taken care of.”
This is not true.  Though many companies may have U.S.-based reps available for some situations.  I had a rather complicated issue with Amazon once. I was getting frustrated and so was the nice gal with the Indian accent who was handling my call. I politely said, “I understand that you speak English, but I am very upset and I’m talking fast and using a lot of slang that you might not understand. I really think it’s best if I can talk to an American or a Canadian.”  About five minutes later, I got a call from a Canadian rep who was better able to unravel the complicated situation.
If accents are proving to be a barrier, you might consider switching to e-mail or chat communication to resolve the problem.
You might be tempted to offer an opinion on the outsourcing of jobs to other countries to person on the other end of the line. But that’s not anything a tech support rep in a cubicle has control over and you’ll do better if you concentrate on the tech issue at hand.  Also, once a tech support rep decides you’re a jerk, they probably aren’t going to want to help you.
Stay calm. Stay polite. Stay on topic.
You may find more of your calls being answered here in the U.S. While the trend has been to send tech support and call center jobs overseas for many years, more and more of those jobs are actually coming back to the United States. However, the catch is that companies are using their tech support reps in the States for what they consider their high-value customers, while still routing what they consider unprofitable customers overseas. Interestingly enough, many of these U.S. call centers are managed by Indian companies.
 ~ Cynthia

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6 Responses to “Dealing With Foreign Customer Service Reps”

  1. Carl Nix says:

    Bring all Tech Support jobs back to the USA.

  2. Bill Leach says:


    Very good post! As you say, it really covers most any situation.

    One of the techniques that I try to use if I’m really upset (which I got from my red headed wife) is to start by telling the Rep that I am really upset, but I do realize that the problem is NOT their fault (or that they did not cause the problem).

    While that should be obvious to anyone, it usually helps the Rep to realize that 1, you are very upset with the product/service and 2, that you do recognize that the Rep is there to help most certainly did not create the problem.

    Thanks again for an excellent posting,

  3. Kerry Kleiber says:

    I would suggest that if the Tech Support has a “chat” line (one in which everyone types back and forth), use it if the person is difficult to understand. While I’m sure there’s exceptions, I’ve never had a problem communicating via the written word with them. (Yes, I realize not all tech support has chat, but when it does, choose it. The advantage, too, is that you can often get a script of your session so that you don’t have to write down details.)

  4. Richard Buhite says:

    most of these so called techs know very little about computers they are reading from a computer set up to tell them how to make corrections when dealing with dell I had the misfortune to deal with a couple of these now own an hp kaspersky tech messed this windows 8.1 computer up so bad that my only recourse is to use my self made recovery disks and then go through the awful job of getting 8.1 back and doing all the updates this guy completely messed up my registry enough said

  5. Peggy Adams says:

    Would like English speaking customer service Rep, always get someone from other country, have been hung up on several times. Are there no English speaking persons at all in customer services.

  6. Abdula Pugfund says:

    Isn’t that just sweet and dandy. The room is full of cherubs floating near the ceiling and there are elves baking cookies in oak trees. People who believe n a multicultural way of life don’t have to live there. I f I can talk to an American who understands idiom, syntax and basic English, we will have the problem solved and be done in couple of minutes. Its only about the money for big business. Anywhere else this slave labor would be banned. If it costs me more to get the service I want then it costs me more. But paying somebody in a third world cesspool to try and placate an already intolerable situation is asinine. Its unfair to them and and its unfair to me.

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