What is the future of the call center industry over the next five years? Here are a dozen predictions:
1. Real-time Internet-based feedback techniques will become popular, enabling customers to rate agents from Web sites with click-to-call capabilities.
2. Transnational quality assurance (QA) practices will extend in both directions, with more U.S. and UK facilities using offshore centers for QA of U.S. and UK agents.
3. Quality and sophistication of offshore agents will climb as global education and culture homogenizes.
4. Homeshoring will increase as gas prices and congestion make commuting impractical in many areas of the world. Aging workforces in the U.S. and the UK will provide additional incentives for homeshoring as companies seek to reduce turnover and control costs.
5. Domestic demand for voice services in China, India and Southeast Asia will climb dramatically. Western-owned service providers will lag in meeting this demand because of management hesitation and cost issues.
6. Small, international call centers will thrive, but not as independent companies. Instead, they will follow U.S. patterns of establishing small branch facilities in residential areas. Costs-per-call for outsourcing service providers with fewer than two hundred seats will make such companies uncompetitive except for specialized work.
Heading to Pakistan
7. Enforcement actions against unregistered offshore call centers operating business-to-consumer campaigns in North America will increase.
8. Hardened facility-to-hub connections will become more popular as top-tier call centers seek to shield their customers from disruptions caused by distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks by criminals seeking to bring down portions of the Internet.
9. Several of the largest Indian outsourcing service providers will set up facilities in Pakistan to serve clients in the U.S., UK and the Gulf States, drawn by low-cost talent and by Pakistani companies’ shortfalls in marketing efforts. The commercial call center industry in the Gulf States will be hampered by cost increases. Indian outsourcers will not invest heavily in Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, thereby making Pakistan a low-cost alternative to the Philippines.
10. Indian companies will expand their footprints in North and South America and Europe, thereby giving clients more service delivery options. Indian companies will continue to compete successfully for new business in emerging international markets.
11. Call center managers from India and Pakistan will increasingly be recognized as world class and will be sought after for global management positions throughout the call center industry.
12. Improved speech recognition and speech automation systems will allow call volumes to increase without concurrent increases in agent populations. Advances in speech automation will be applied to languages other than English. Speech recognition technologies will increasingly be used for automated quality assurance.
What are your predictions for the call center industry in five years? Have your say in the Talkback section below.
Anthony Mitchell, an ECT News Network columnist, has been involved with the Indian IT industry since 1987, specializing through InternationalStaff.net in offshore process migration, call center program management, turnkey software development and help desk management.