The Outsourcing of Call Centers and How it Affects Your Business

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The idea of outsourcing, and the emotions associated with it, is far from new.

In general, out of fear of economic stability and available jobs at home, the general public largely frowns upon outsourcing. This year, with the term tossed around this election season, it has taken on an even more negative cast.  Nonetheless, as many recognize, in the business world outsourcing is often necessary to keep an operation afloat.

How Many People Are Outsourcing?

Every year, more companies are finding it a necessity to establish some sort of call center for their business. Not coincidently, many have begun finding that outsourcing these call centers save their bottom lines some serious money. In 2005, the research group Avaya found that U.S. companies spent more than $113 million in outsourcing their call centers. That number quickly escalated to more than $123 million in 2006, $133 million in 2007, and $145 million in 2008.

A large majority of the outsourcing of call centers is done by moving these contact points outside the United States to countries like India, where the wages are lower and the there are many people looking for work.  This isn’t the full meaning of outsourcing, however. When people hear the word outsourced, they usually just assume that we are talking about sending a job outside the U.S.  The fact of the matter is that there is an ever growing rise in the number of companies who are still outsourcing their call centers, but they are now simply outsourcing their contact business to other United States based companies that specialize in this sort of work.

 

Why Would We Want to Keep Call Centers Local?

When someone makes a call to customer service, they want to be able to communicate effectively with whomever they are talking to.  We’ve all seen the Discover Card ads where a gentleman from the Eastern Bloc answers the phone and announces himself as “Peggy.”  Peggy proceeds to engage in a confusing conversation with a wide range of callers over the course of the ad campaign, with the basic message being that you should always know who you are talking to when calling customer service.  It is a safe bet that at one time or another, we have all had an experience where we’ve talked to our own Peggy.

What Changes Between Local and International Call Centers?

The “Peggy” experience was corroborated by a 2010 study by research group CFI. They found that people were happier when the person they talked to when calling customer service sounded as if they were native to their country.  Further, the survey showed that out of 1,500 adults surveyed, 32% said that when they talked to a call center outside the U.S. they had to talk to more than one representative.  While 85% said that their issue was eventually resolved, just half (50%) said that the issue was resolved on the first call.  On the other hand, when speaking with call centers inside the U.S., only 21% said that they had to talk to more than one representative when calling, a whopping 94% claim that their issues were resolved and a large majority (67 percent) said that the problem was solved, or the question was answered, on the first call.

Call Centers aren’t Synonymous with Outsourcing

Over the years, thanks in large part to outsourcing call centers overseas, the term “call center” has almost earned a bad a reputation as “outsourcing.”  People expect to be road-blocked.  People expect to have a problem dealing with a call center.  That can, and has been, changing by outsourcing the customer contacts to businesses inside American shores to companies that are well trained to deal with the issues in a quick and concise manner.

Trust can be a powerful commodity when it comes to the business world.  Having your customers believe that they are dealing with a company that wants their issues to be resolved, that they are not intentionally being shunted off to an Indian operator in order to get them to give up on their question could mean more than a few extra dollars up front.

 

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