Future Of Global Call Center Industry

Since the immediate aftermath of the global economic crisis, which threatened the very existence of call center industry, a lot of water has flown under the bridge. Most of its critics have now come to accept that this much maligned industry is here to stay. In countries like United States, it is now accepted that overseas call centers cut costs, and improve viability of US firms. However, the latest threats to this industry have now arrived...
Future of Global Call Center Industry
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The call center industry has its beginnings in the 1970s, but it achieved its status as a global industry largely in the twenty first century, thanks largely to the enormous developments in the technology for communication, and in particular the large scale telecommunication networks that enabled call centers to operate at a fraction of the costs that were a norm a few decades back. The economic crisis of the last decade did upset a lot of its equations and premature claims of obsolescence were being prepared immediately after the crisis.

However, time has proved such predictions as largely far-fetched imagination of

sceptics.

Call Center Industry in the Globalized Economic Order

Slowly, but surely, we have come to accept the global call center as an inevitable part of the globalized economic order. During the last decade, overseas call centers have attracted enormous attention, debate and criticism. Yet, the global call center industry has continued to prosper, making it an essential support industry in the rapidly changing world of business. More importantly, economists and business experts have finally come to conclude that the adverse impacts of shifting of call centers outside your country are far outweighed by the advantages that result from such outsourcing. It is estimated that for every job that was outsourced to a foreign land, there were almost two jobs created from the increased profits and cost cutting that resulted from it.

Factors underlying the Survival of Global Call Center Industry

The basic reason of survival and growth of global call center industry so far lies in the advantage that it provides by way of access to labor that costs a fifth or even less of what it would cost in here, and at the same time avoids immigration and all its complications. Countries like Philippines and India have enormous English speaking manpower, readily available to work for companies in the developed world, and accessing them helps substantially in sustaining the bottom-line of business concerns. This advantage has allowed them to make the best use of opportunities arising in the global call center industry. Many other countries have subsequently followed suite, making this industry one of the most globally diversified ever in the history of international trade and business.

The Major Players

While India and Philippines made most of the initial growth of this industry, most new expansion is taking place in new territories like Eastern Europe and East Asia. Call centers have been opened in Nepal during the last decade, while Bangladesh has also made progress in becoming a hub for call centers. At one point, it was thought that the biggest challenge to the existing players in the coming years will be China, where English is being taken up at the same level now, which has seen Chinese dominate the world of sports and Olympics. More importantly, Chinese people are also developing their expertise in other foreign languages too, which may help them succeed in having a highly diversified global call canter industry in China in the coming years. However, upto now, the biggest beneficiary of call center industry is Philippines, which has taken a lead over India largely because of the preference of American consumers of Philippine accent.

Written off Earlier: Perception Vs Reality

Global call center industry had been repeatedly written off by some critics, yet it has not only survived, but continued to grow.


The primary reason for this is the necessity for the producers and service providers to cut costs of their products. The needs for doing so have become manifold after  economic downturn. To avoid the loss of competitiveness, no stones would be left unturned, including outsourcing of non-core activities like call centers. By doing so, they can cut costs, preserve their bottom-line and survive. By doing so, they also help in reducing the price, which is always a good news for consumers, for in tough times a penny saved is a penny gained.

While the economic and financial factors have allowed the global call center industry to thrive and grow, there have also been difficulties and negatives that are now gradually being factored in. For certain services, like financial service industry, there have been concerns about the security of the data, which have lead to development of additional security measures, and in some cases, even lead to re-shifting of call centers to the domestic turf.

In case of countries hosting these call centers too, the perceptions towards call centers as an easy way of employment and development has undergone moderation. In these centers, the attrition rate is very high. More importantly, the workers, typically young graduates, who join these centers because of attractive pay, have come to realise the lack of career progression that they would need to endure, in addition to the very inconvenient life style that almost cuts them off from their society due to the difference in working hours in their countries and those of their clients.

New Threats of Software Robots and Artificial Intelligence are Far More Dangerous

While the call center has survived the challenges of economic downturn reasonably well, it is now threatened with new challenges that are far more dangerous. These challenges arise from new technology that can possibly substitute call centers. Apart from easy access to servicing complaints through dynamic websites, it is now becoming possible for companies to provide several call services through automated voice responses.

Many of the software solutions have a component of learning, which can make the machines gradually better off in providing responses to usual or standard queries. This could mean that in future, call centers may operate with less of employees and more of software, thereby reducing the call center based employments in countries like Philippines and India. These software robots, which may gradually become capable of responding to queries of customers in an accent that they prefer, provide all kinds of detailed information in a flash, and be absolutely unperturbed with the most mischievous and abusive behaviour can actually become the death nail for the call center industry. It can enable most enterprises to deal with customer communication and response with a small local team, largely using automated responses.

How does call center industry respond to these challenges will become clear in the next few years. Even if the industry survives, there is likely to be a lot of disruption and modification of business models.



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