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An offshore call center is a type of outsourcing wherein a company employs people in another country to handle customer support or service calls. In the United States, many companies that sell computer products or services offshore these services. The benefit to the company is savings — it is less expensive to hire a business outside the US to handle calls, than to employ stateside technical personnel. Many customers, however, find that it can be a frustrating experience when trying to get technical issues resolved.
Sometimes referred to as “follow the sun services,” using offshore outsourcing is a cost-effective way for a company to have 24/7 support available to customers in a highly competitive marketplace. Savings on overhead can reach 40% when compared with providing the same services domestically. An offshore call center also has the advantage of being able to provide multi-lingual support to many customers who do not speak English.
A potential disadvantage is that the company must rely on a third party to handle its customers. Arguably, employees at an offshore call center have less stake in customer satisfaction than the company for which they’re working. Brand loyalty is built through marketing and product satisfaction, and ineffective customer service, whether outsourced or in-house, can easily destroy that investment. Some call center providers point out that, for this reason and others, the best countries for outsourcing are those that are in cultural alignment with the company’s base country.
From the customer’s point of view, at least in the world of technology, offshore call centers are generally viewed unfavorably. Too often, it means trying to communicate with someone who the customer cannot easily understand. Worse, it usually also means getting rote answers from a “cue card” type system of troubleshooting. If this, then go to A. If that then go to B... It is not uncommon that the person providing the technical help knows little to nothing about the product or system that the customer is calling in about, and is simply following steps in a guide. While this approach can address very basic questions, advanced support via personal experience with the product or service is typically lacking.
Some countries that provide offshore call centers to the United States include Panama, the Philippines and India. Many U.S. industries take advantage of these call centers, with some industries finding it a better fit than others. If you are interested in looking into this business solution for your company, many successful service providers can be found online.