While we’re becoming used to seeing articles that the contact center industry is booming in places such as India, the Philippines and Central America, it seems a bit odd to realize that the contact center industry is also booming right here at home in the U.S.
As of 2012, about two million Americans worked in a customer support job. What this means is that nearly one in every 25 jobs is in the contact center industry. A 2011 survey of 100 CFOs conducted by BDO found that just 12 percent of U.S. firms were maintaining offshore contact centers or help desks offshore. This represented a huge drop from 35 percent in 2009 and 19 percent from 2010, and there is evidence that the offshore trend is continuing to decline.
There are a number of reasons for this. Technology has made it possible to accommodate more affordable contact center paradigms at home: voice over IP and cloud-based solutions make using home agents a workable and affordable solution, and companies can build a single contact center out of disparate workers located at offices around the country without having to invest in new infrastructure.
Quality is an issue as well, as Americans generally don’t like dealing with foreign contact center agents with heavy accents. During a time of recession, shipping jobs offshore earns the disapproval of customers, and many companies feel that the cost benefits available offshore are eroded by quality problems.
There’s another reason that the domestic contact center is in growth mode: the complexity of today’s customer interactions demands more workers and more educated workers, according to a blog post by staffing company Aerotek (News - Alert).
“With an increasing number of technologies taking advantage of new levels of communication, workers will soon need to harness and use a number of different contact methods, including phone calls, texts and social media, to meet customers' needs,” blogged the company. “This is likely to drive growth in the near future as companies search for workers with these skills.”
This has been a boon for younger and more tech-savvy workers interested in a career rather than a job to earn a paycheck. Customers are expecting more out of the companies they do business with today, and companies need to meet their expectations or risk losing customers.
“Automation and predictive behavior are expected to be two of the biggest expansions of customer call center service in the near future as companies increasingly work to appeal to consumer needs,” according to Aerotek. “This will likely lead to call center employers looking for an expanded resume full of tech skills and stronger emphasis on multitasking. Companies want their employees to meet faster expectations from customers, making these skills only more important in the future.”
Which is good news for the U.S. contact center industry and its workers.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson