Will Customer Service Suffer from Layoffs?
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You’ve been working at your job for years. You’ve made lots of money for the company and are the most loyal employee they know of. Yet, tough times are ahead and the company decides you are one of the 10% they have to let go to stay afloat. It’s a frustrating thing to have happen, but what are you gonna do?
Now let’s flip that: You are at your job and survive the cut, but now you are in the position to take up a part of that person who was laid off.
We are in unstable times. Companies that saw a strong future a year ago are now packing boxes and closing shop. Even big name companies are trimming the fat. Google ended some projects and laid off staff. Microsoft has survived without any major changes, but just a couple hours Steve Ballmer announced a 5000 person cut.
Intel lays off 1800. AMD is at 1100. Yahoo’s new CEO will be getting 1 million for her services even though their company is teetering on the edge. A familiar story from all jobs – Well, except for Apple.
And it’s not only layoffs that are concerning. Some companies decided they needed to hold back to keep employees. Some will not get their yearly bonus, others will accept a ‘slight’ pay cut. Company run events like holiday parties will be scaled back and in some cases, not held this year.
Even Open Source can get affected. Sun bought out OpenOffice and made that Open Source. Sun does have support plans that make this possible to keep this free for the home desktop. However, that could change in an instant if Sun doesn’t show the right numbers.
Of course this has been a reality for the last few months. But what is more concerning is how we – the customer – get affected by it.
For instance, some companies outsource their support. Cutbacks may require the company to scale back the service. In the Microsoft instance, the 5000 people will be from Customer Service, Consultants and operations, amongst other positions.
So does that mean when you call in for support for that faulty product, how long will you be waiting for a resolution or to just for someone to answer the phone? 10 minutes – 30 minutes – An hour or more?
Here’s a scenario that we don’t want to accept. Will the companies end up finding that outsourcing is the way to go? Will India end up having a strong economy while we sit on and milk our last paychecks in fear that would be the last one?
The unemployment rate is rising – New York reports almost 10,000 jobs were lost already. The Global Insight report expects the unemployment rate to be between 9 and 10 percent by 2010. In the US alone, that is over 3 million people without jobs.
Now might be the time to make a dent on the economy. With customer support dwindling down, the average user might turn to local help. The out of work computer guy might be able to fix your computer for less than you would have to pay the big time company – and in less time. They can get parts almost as easily as the big guys – sometimes for less by using services like ebay and Amazon.
If you have a big web developer working on your websites, you may be forced to either learn the processes yourself or find a college student looking for a project to get college credit on. After all, $10 an hour is better than $80, even if it does take the kid a little longer to fix.
A year ago, we saw gas prices soar, which made people hesitant to drive around town. I kept my same policies, therefore I saw an increase in clients because I would drive to them. Now with the possibility of companies laying off people, I might see the same thing happen.
The focus on companies might just be to satisfy the big clients and make the small clients wait a little longer. If I can give them quality service without the wait, some people might make the move. After all, you can’t make money if your systems that do it – are down.
There is another time where we were in a worse scenario. 1920’s – we were in the middle of the Great depression. Steel tycoons were committing suicide because entire fortunes were lost. So how did we get out of that? It was World War II.
Hopefully we won’t see any major war to help us get out of this downturn. But we could see opportunity around the corner. Heck, you never know – maybe someone has the answer in their basement – an idea they were tinkering with for a couple years now. Well, now they are unemployed and have a little more time to focus on that one little item. Next thing you know – A new, renewable energy or an item that will help our everyday world, work a little easier.
Let’s hope we can get something soon.