Top 5 Misconceptions of International Call Centers

If you are currently using in house resources to support call center activities, you may be considering partnering with an international call center as a more cost effective option to handle some of the less complex calls.  Here are some common misconceptions about using an international call center you may come across.

#1 - They are all in India. While India still supports many call centers , it is not the only option. The Philippines passed India in the number of call center employees in 2011, and continues to grow due to its accent neutral English and strong customer service skills. Countries such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Ireland, are working hard to grow their presence in the industry.

#2 - They have third world infrastructure. While many of the countries that host international call centers have very poor areas, they have integrated 1st world technology that allows them to compete globally.  While few systems are foolproof,  Voice Over Internet Protocol phone systems have improved dramatically in their speed and clarity.  Redundancy provides additional security as do multiple locations that allow for shifting of workload when needed.

#3 - They are Sweatshops. While each country varies in cost, countries like the Philippines have legislated strong laws to support their workers.  While wages may be 40% of those of a similar US worker, this is good pay for the region.  In the Philippines, workers also typically receive several weeks of sick time plus several weeks of vacation time on top of numerous holidays.   They also work in modern, comfortable office environments, in safe secure buildings, with the HR laws and protections similar to those in the United States.

#4 - Limited English Language Skills.  While almost everyone has had a frustrating experience with an international call center agent at some point, the language skills for many agents is quite good.  Providing a good match for the skill level required for the type of call is key.  This includes not only core English language skills, but cultural background and core product knowledge.  Longer calls that require more specific cultural understanding and in-depth technical product knowledge are best left to very highly skilled Representatives or Domestic Representatives.  However, for shorter calls with fewer variations and limited cultural components, a properly selected and trained international agent can be highly successful.

#5 - Lots of Holidays.  While it is true that both India and the Philippines have a lot of holidays, most call center workers expect to work those holidays – receiving holiday pay of course.  They also work most US holidays providing valuable support on days where most US workers expect to have the day off.

Tags: Call Center, International Call Center, Outsourcing

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