20 years ago, it was common practice for large companies to outsource their customer service call centers to countries like India and the Philippines in an effort to cut costs. Recent years have seen a direct reversal of that trend, though, as many large U.S. companies are making the choice to bring their call centers back home. Read on to find out why companies such as GM and Citi have opted to transition back to domestic call centers.
The most obvious benefit of using a U.S. based call center is the removal of the language barrier between the caller and the agent. According to a study conducted by the CFI Group, calls were only resolved 45% of the time when the customer reported that their agent was hard to understand. On the other hand, when call center agents were easily understood by their callers, 88% of the calls were resolved. In addition to higher resolution rates, domestic call centers also boast shorter call times, presumably because communication is simplified.
These two factors alone are enough to make a big impact with your customers. If a customer is experiencing issues with a product or a service, language barriers with customer service agents can add to their frustration and leave a lasting (and sometimes irreversible) negative impression.
80% of domestic call center agents have some college education. As call center agents become more educated and experienced in the business realm, many are being entrusted with troubleshooting tasks that go much deeper than the cliche “hello, how can I help you today” role that they’ve traditionally served. In addition to their educational advantage, U.S. based agents possess a cultural familiarity that just can’t be replicated by an agent overseas.
But overseas call centers are more affordable, aren’t they? While that has been a commonly-held belief, it doesn’t always hold up. According to Jeff Immelt, the chairman of General Electric, the cost difference between operating a call center in the U.S. versus India has fallen to only 10%. “In some cases, workers in India are making only 15% less than workers in Nebraska,” said Phil Fersht, a call center outsourcing analyst.
Between 2009 and 2012, U.S. based call centers grew at about 20% annually, and that rate is predicted to stay the same through 2018. As more companies experience increased customer satisfaction with their domestic call centers, it’s easy to see why researchers believe this trend is here to stay.