Third-party call centres in India and other outsourcing destinations are now a commonplace business practice. For many businesses, it has helped them to significantly reduce costs while also improving the quality of their customer service function. Of course, not every outsourcing decision has had positive consequences, and when call centre outsourcing fails, it can have a devastating impact on customer satisfaction. However, the good news is that by finding the right premier provider, the chances of failure can be reduced.
One of the most important things to watch is price. When a major driver of outsourcing is cost, it might seem counterintuitive, but the most common cause of failure is when businesses opt for a provider that has set their prices too low. A major part of the saving from offshoring comes from the cost of labour since other costs, like software licensing, taxation, or premises, may not be significantly cheaper than elsewhere. This means that, frequently, every penny saved on call centre fees comes from their salaries.
The consequence is obvious: the best call agents take the best-paid work in a large and competitive market, which means that the low-cost call centre has a weaker pool to recruit from. This leads to mistakes and communication difficulties, and that results in frustrated customers.
It’s also important to look for the right call centre partner, and there are several factors that can influence a decision. Geography is a surprisingly important one. Although it is a global industry, even something like time zone can have an effect in the same way as salary, the better call centre agents may seek more sociable hours: part of India’s attraction is that it is well-located to serve Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
And the call centre’s own specialisation will play a part. Increasingly, call centres, particularly premier ones, will focus on one or two sectors. This is often for practical reasons; working in sensitive sectors like healthcare or finance will require investing in costly security. But it will also reflect things like their local population. Call centres in the Philippines have become the world leaders in customer service because of Filipinos’ exceptionally high level of English fluency. On the other hand, India is developing a reputation as a destination for IT support call centres.
The call centre industry is a mature and well-developed sector. That means it provides a lot of advantages for the businesses looking to outsource; competition means that call centres have to keep prices low and quality high to win business. It also means a vibrant support sector there, ensuring that the services work efficiently and effectively; the software market alone is estimated to be worth $20 billion alone.
It can be difficult for businesses looking to use call centre outsourcing, but perhaps only because there are so many good options. And that is not a bad problem for any business to have.