After all the hype surrounding offshore call center outsourcing during 2003, and concerns of jobs moving overseas, a new Datamonitor report predicts that only 5% of agent positions worldwide will be located offshore by 2007. While there is clearly a threat to domestic jobs, the extent of the threat may not be as big as the media is making it out to be.
A new report forecasts that the number of offshore call center positions will reach 240,000 by 2007.
According to Datamonitor, 241,100 agent positions will be located offshore in 2007. That number represents 5% of the total global call center market, which will have grown to 4.78 million agent positions by 2007.
The focus has shifted towards selling outsourcing rather than selling ‘offshore’. However, once firms have outsourced to a third party, it becomes much more acceptable to move that work offshore.
Mexico, South Africa (seen as a hidden gem of offshore call center outsourcing) and Malaysia are among the leading offshore locations. They are growing in stature at the expense of India and the Philippines whose share of the offshore market will drop to 64% in 2007 compared to 70% in 2002.
Firms are seeing increasing demand for non-English-language services and are balancing their global outsourcing portfolio with call centers in different geographical locations. For example, 60% of Spanish speakers in the US are of Mexican origin. Thus Mexico will experience massive growth in the number of call center agent positions serving offshore markets, primarily the US.
Claims that companies are rebelling against outsourcing to foreign shores because of agents’ accents seem to be wholly inaccurate. As more countries offer offshore outsourcing, anecdotal evidence of bad call center experiences will continue to appear in the media but the real issue concerns the agents’ ability to relate to consumers on a cultural level.
There are some general guidelines that companies should follow if they want to outsource functions offshore. Firms need to clearly define what part of their operations is being outsourced. They should also establish cost and performance benchmarks in advance of implementing any change, so that quantifiable return on investment can be demonstrated. Extensive due-diligence is required to ensure the right country and the right outsourcing partners are selected. Adequate resources then need to be allocated, and real-time monitoring technologies established, to ensure the ongoing success of the operation.