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A warning to businesses using Asian call centres – especially after an Asian airline has an “incident”

I just got back from a  busy business trip to Manila and I called my parents  this morning to tell them I was back safe and sound.

My mother told me that she got really worried while I was away when she got a call from a person with an Asian voice asking if my mother was my next on kin.

Now, as you know investigations are still underway about the disappearance of that Malaysia Airlines flight. As of writing this post – we still don’t know what has happened to the plane and passengers.

Imagine you have a loved one flying in the Asia region and you get a call asking if you are their next of kin!

Malaysia airlines

This image is from a story by The Philippines Star:

search for missing plane

My mum said that her heart sank when she heard the voice ask if she (my mum) was my next of kin.

My mother said that she will be writing a firm letter of complaint.

I won’t mention the organisation the call was made on behalf of –  but I urge all businesses to be sensitive when using the words next of kin:

– especially if there has been a recent air  disaster or other disaster (earthquake etc) or suspected incident

– especially if those words “next of kin”  are used as some of the first words of a phone call.

It was only later in the call when my mum asked more details of where the person was from – that my mum understood the context of the call – an that it was not related to air travel. Phew!

Luckily, mum mother is calm under pressure and composed herself after the initial shock .

She said she got annoyed – also on behalf of all the other people like her who would be on tenterhooks after the Malaysia Airlines disappearance. Many people from all over the world with loved ones travelling at the moment.

Maybe the caller did give with a more detailed explanation of where she was from and what the matter was about.

My mum said the only thing she focussed on and what “worried” her was:

the Asian accent + the words next of kin + the recent disappearance of the Malaysia flight.

Anyway, I reckon lots of other people would be on tenterhooks too.

So please share this post:

1. So any businesses using call centres train their people to not use the words Next of Kin

2. So any people receiving calls calmly ask more details of where the person is from and the context of the call.




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