#1 – They are all in India. While India supports many call centers, it is not the only option. With its accent-neutral English and excellent customer service skills, the Philippines overtook India as the country with the highest number of call center employees in 2011. In addition, countries such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Ireland are working hard to increase their presence in the industry.
#2 – They have third world infrastructure. While many countries hosting international call centers are in very poor areas, they have integrated first-world technology to compete in the global marketplace. Few systems are foolproof, but Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems have dramatically improved speed and clarity. Redundancy and multiple locations contribute to additional security, as they allow for shifting of workloads when necessary.
#3 – They are sweatshops. Each country has varying costs, but countries like the Philippines have laws that support their workers. While wages may be 40% below those of the United States, this is good pay for the region. On top of numerous holidays, Philippine workers are also typically provided with several weeks of sick leave and vacation. In addition, companies follow HR laws and protections similar to those in the United States.
#4 – Limited English language skills. Although most people have experienced frustration with an international call center agent at some point, many agents have very good language skills. Therefore, it is crucial to match the skill level required for the type of call. Besides English language proficiency, this includes cultural background and basic product knowledge. Longer calls that require more specific cultural understanding and in-depth technical product knowledge are best left to highly skilled Representatives or Domestic Representatives. However, a properly selected and trained international agent can be highly successful for shorter calls with fewer variations and limited cultural components.
#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. Additionally, they work most US holidays, providing valuable support when most US workers have the day off.