The use of offshore call centres has exploded since the establishment of the first major in-house operations in India in the 80s. And, ever since, India has been one of the dominant location of the call centre and outsourcing industry, maintaining an early lead with the skills and expertise developed, alongside some innovation. However, the model has been so successful that India alone cannot meet market demand, with other centres establishing themselves to cater for an annual market worth nearly $100 million.
A major driver of that success has, inevitably, been financial. There would be little point in outsourcing if it did not represent a saving for businesses. The use of call centre companies in nations like India with low labour costs means outsourcing can be significantly cheaper than equivalent in-house provision. However, savings alone are not enough; a service needs to be run well, maintaining or even exceeding in-house standards.
And increasingly, companies are outsourcing to call centres in India and elsewhere, not just to save money but also to enhance quality. Like any specialist provider, call centres have a range of advantages that mean they can offer improvements. They benefit from their scale and from the domain expertise they have.
Major third-party providers will dwarf even the largest in-house call centre, typically having thousands of call agents, India’s largest employs 100,000 people. This brings several advantages. Aside from the obvious economies of scale, it means that they develop a significant base of institutional knowledge. A business might be totally new to a call centre, but it’s likely the call centre will already have relevant experience they can use.
The scale also provides benefits for companies whose needs might change. Things like seasonal changes in demand, or rapid scaling to address issues, can be easily managed with outsourced provision, but an expensive headache for in-house service.
And outsourced call centres can call upon the advantages offered by large pools of staff. The industry size means call centres are significant employers in many nations, and in many cases, these bring particular advantages. Call centres in the Philippines, a nation where the sector employs over a million people, benefit from a high level of English fluency, making them ideal for customer service roles. On the other hand, India has started to become a centre for IT support, utilising the strong technical education there.
However, the real proof of the effectiveness of call centres is their success. Some analysts are already a major global industry, projecting it will be worth a staggering $500 million in five years’ time, growth driven by businesses increasingly using call centre providers to ensure high-quality customer services. More and more customers are looking to brand to provide a service and experience, not just a product. Call centres have developed their offer to help businesses address that growing demand.