India has been the destination of choice for outsourcing call center services for quite a few years now.
Companies that are situated in the western world, have found great return on investment in Indian centers.
Over the recent past, however, India has seen a push to re-brand itself from merely an outsourcing destination to one that contributes more effectively to product-based technology.
Indian firms are working on unique products using the latest technology on offer.
For companies belonging overseas, this raises a critical question – is India still the hub of call center software and services?
Upon examination, it is clear that the answer is a positive.
India has successfully managed to keep its service industry flourishing while venturing into other sectors at the same time. Having a large number of qualified young people looking for jobs help the call center services industry to sustain.
India has been winning favor because of the availability of cheap labor which leads to lower operational costs to run a call center in India compared to the US or Canada or other western countries.
Over the years, the Indian outsourced business has faced quite a lot of obstacles.
There were calls by the US government to cut-off the outsourcing and to focus on American jobs, but the situation has remained more or less the same.
Other countries that offer cheap technical labor have given India the competition in this regard as well.
New players such as the Philippines, Honduras, Ireland etc. all offer the same sort of environments and agents to carry out the services.
The Indian stronghold has remained, however, owing to India’s experience in dealing with US firms and customers and the quality of work that has previously been accomplished.
In this article, we will take a look at the eight important factors that make India the hub of call center solutions and how they work to provide the best of service to overseas companies.
1. The availability of cheap labor.
For the average American company, the cost of hiring a US citizen to perform the job of customer servicing will be eight times the cost of outsourcing it to an Indian professional.
This huge disparity in labor price contributes majorly to the decision to outsource customer service jobs to India.
This brings down operational costs by a large margin, which can either be invested in research or manufacturing, or contribute to the generation of profits.
There are studies that show that operational costs can be slashed to less than half the original by simply moving the customer service offshore to India for US companies.
2. Technologically advanced service.
Indian call centers use the best call center software to service their clients.
In other places offering customer service stations, technology is not top-notch, which is why certain functionalities cannot be accessed and the security of data remains in question.
India rises above these problems, making it the obvious choice for companies.
This has a cyclic effect as well – because India has the technology, it gets the projects and because it keeps getting more projects, it can afford to invest in the latest technology in the market.
3. Experienced call center agents.
When a company outsources to India, it is assured that the customer service executives handling their business will be ones with plenty of experience under their belt, since India has been known to do this for so long.
This experience comes into play in pressure situations when a quick decision can make or break a sale, causing significant repercussions.
In India, not only is there a healthy number of experienced professionals working in this business, but there is also an inter-company and intra-company incentive for being the top performer, which spurs people on to make the better decisions.
4. Expertise factor.
The professionals working in call centers in India undergo thorough training programs before they are put to work on projects. Thus, these agents have the technical expertise necessary to bring out the best in their work.
Especially in the urban sector, there is a huge pool of talented individuals working in call centers specializing in their respective domains. The companies themselves organize workshops and training services so that their employees can stay in top shape while dealing with actual customers and projects.
5. Engaging customers for long term associations.
Indian call centers have mastered the art of evoking loyalty.
Regular follow-ups, providing incentives, having one-on-one conversations and giving exclusive privileges to the clients are some of the ways call centers ensure that a customer is hooked to the brand and remains loyal to it in the future.
For a company, this is a very profitable situation, because it takes far more money to go out and aggressively get a new customer rather than keeping an existing customer.
By supplementing the needs of the parent company, Indian call centers establish themselves as the best in the business.
6. Generating excellent customer satisfaction.
In the customer service business, the most important indicator of performance is customer satisfaction.
If customers are happy with what they are getting, the call center is doing something right.
Customers want efficiency from agents. They want clarity of answers and a quick fix to their problems.
Indian call center agents are great at explaining solutions in a simple but lucid manner.
Their training gives them a good understanding of the subject, which then translates to a better explanation of the problem brought forward by the customer.
Getting a simple but effective reply also keeps the customers satisfied.
7. Staying on support round the clock.
In India, call centers function 24*7, with agents working in different shifts.
As far as a customer is concerned, he or she would want a solution to the problem regardless of whether it is noon or midnight in the country where call centers are located.
It is expected that the call center agents will be equally active even though it may not be their peak time.
The ability to provide service round the clock separates India from the rest of the world in terms of providing customer service.
8. English language proficiency.
Most customers who call in for information or complaints are English-speaking.
A very high number of companies that outsource their work to India are from the US or Canada, and some from Europe. For the customers of these companies, it is important that the person on the other end of the line understands English and is able to communicate in an accent that they can comprehend.
Indians have a more or less neutral accent in English, and can easily adjust to the American tone.
This puts them at an advantage in terms of the trust they can generate with their American counterparts.
The agents who work in Indian call centers are all trained in English and are able to carry out communication effectively.
The Case Study
We have seen so far the factors that put India in favor of US companies to be the destination for outsourcing call center activities.
Indian call centers are equipped with the latest tech, their agents are well-versed in the call center software solutions that they provide, and they have the experience and expertise to keep their customers satisfied with the work they do, all at a much cheaper rate than that available in the developed nations.
To further illustrate the importance that India holds in terms of providing customer service through call center agents, we will take a look at the case study of Ventin Solutions, a call center agency providing telemarketing software solutions for a large organization.
In the case study, we will talk about the challenges faced and the solutions drawn up to counter those challenges, in the context of the problem scenario they found themselves .
We will also see what the results were, and how the implementation of changes brought about a positive shift in the operations.
The Problem Scenario
Ventin Solutions is a US based company.
Their parent company found it draining on their funds to keep investing in the US call center, since operational costs were on the up, and they could not afford to employ more agents to deal with the increasing number of customer calls.
Moreover, the company was lacking in people who have expertise about various subjects, which is why they often had to refer complex problems to the other firms.
They were looking for a solution which would help them better their quality of service and cut down on the costs at the same time.
The company faced quite a few challenges during its operations.
The most significant ones are listed below.
1. High operational costs.
Running the customer service wing locally was proving to be a cost-ineffective decision by the management.
Costs from employee salaries, technical maintenance, database management, office space maintenance, etc. were taking up a sizeable portion of the profits made by the business.
2. Lack of expertise.
Most of the agents recruited by the call center were young men and women with basic educational qualifications.
The company lacked expertise in their agents in various departments, which hindered their ability to solve a lot of complex problems, thus lowering the rate of customer satisfaction.
3. Not enough agents.
As the company’s business grew, so did the number of customers.
More and more customers dialed in every day with some query or the other.
However, with the limited number of agents available, it became increasingly difficult to deal with the volume of calls especially at peak hours, leading to greater waiting times, more calls dropped and decreased satisfaction levels.
The following solutions were proposed to deal with the problems faced.
1. The company decided to partner with a call center agency in India, which would provide them cheaper labor and more personnel while cutting down on operational costs.
The initial move would take a good investment, but over a period of time it would be beneficial to the company as it scaled up its operations not just in the US but worldwide.
2. The company decided to invest in the finest call center solutions for its Indian customer service wing, so that agents had all the information they needed at hand to provide the best possible service.
3. Training was provided to all the agents working in the call center so that they were well-versed with the avenues that the company worked on, and how best to deliver solutions in them.
They were also provided knowledge about the latest trends in technology and how they could use it to bring out more efficient work.
4. The costs associated with hiring an Indian agent are much less than the same for a US agent.
The company decided to use the money they saved in employing more Indian agents to work on their projects, so that all calls could be attended with minimal waiting time.
This contributed greatly to increased satisfaction and organic reach among the customers.
The call center overhaul was a long-term process.
During the initial stages of setting up the business in India, the company saw a deficit in their turnover.
After a year of full functioning, and after providing training to the agents who would be working for the company, the positive results started to show.
Within the next two years, operational costs were down by more than half their previous ratings and customer satisfaction rates were on the increase.
This encouraged the company to invest in more agents to be working during the hours of high call volumes.
Far less calls were queued to wait because there were more people to man the phones.
Within this time, the company’s profits started increasing, with greater business and less expenditure on the customer service side of things.
Thus we can see how India remains the outsourcing country of choice for Western businesses.
There are plenty of reasons for the success India has enjoyed, as discussed already in this article.
India seems to have found the balance between staying at the top of the service industry as well as pushing for a dominant role in product-based manufacturing and innovation.