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Bringing Call Centers (and jobs) back to the US

By Michael Meyer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Security Officer (CSO), MRS BPO, LLC.

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Michael Meyer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Security Officer (CSO), MRS BPO, LLC.

Americans are a funny lot when it comes to talking to others. Our land is made up of every culture in the world and we hear different accents daily from the talking Gecko with an Australian accent to the accents rated the sexiest in the world -Irish, Italian and Scottish(1). So Americans are by and large conditioned to hearing all kinds of accents and really only care if they are receiving the attention that they deserve as a customer. Knowing this, starting in the early 2000’s, businesses of all sizes starting sending customer and tech support offshore to low cost English speaking countries - as a way to save money. The results of this off shoring were mixed due to cultural knowledge and communication issues. Companies hadn’t realized yet that you can’t put a price tag on the intrinsic value of an empathic and understanding US voice that can deeply connect with customers.

So while the businesses initially saved money, their customers grew increasingly frustrated with the outsourced services because they repeatedly experienced representatives that couldn’t understand them at a basic level or weren’t able to emotionally connect with them. Customers complained everywhere they could - damaging the company’s brands along the way. Dell is an example of a company that built a strong reputation on customer service and tried outsourcing its call centers. Dell saw customer complaints rising and acted quickly in early 2004 to bring its business support services back to the US.(2) The trend that Dell recognized, was that increased customer experience and satisfaction - were the true keys to profitability and brand loyalty in an increasingly competitive global environment. More recently, other large companies such as GM, have recognized these same types of reasons to move a call center back because “We want to provide the best possible service” and “Every touch point is an opportunity”.(3)

Many other reasons to bringcall centers back have become apparent. The most commonly cited reasons are: increasing labor costs, security concerns and brand protection. While labor costs are important, in today’s regulatory driven environment, most companies are looking at the risks to the business first and cost second. To protect their brand, some companies, especially those in the financial industry are now contractually forbidding the off shoring of any processes or data. With compliance and brand protection concernsgrowing daily - it’s no wonder reshoring has been increasing for some time.

"The most commonly cited reasons for onshoring today are: increasing labor costs, security concerns and brand protection"

And there is reason to believe that not only are call center jobs coming back, but the new jobs being created are staying here. To illustrate this, the Bureau of labor statistics 2014 (latest available) shows there were 2.58 Million Customer Service Representatives in the US and the job outlook is growing by 10% through 2024 (4). Even Congress decided to act this year by introducing a bill in both houses on February 24thcalled: United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protect Act of 2016 (5). This bill would allow the Secretary of Labor to maintain a public list of employers who relocate jobs overseas and make them ineligible for Federal grants and loans along with other disclosures.

So the next time you call an American business for service or support, the likelihood is increasing - that it will be an American who answers!

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