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Is the outsourced contact center dying?

Outsourcing operations to overseas contact centers, once a popular practice, is receiving pushback from customers and companies alike.


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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Are the days of the overseas, outsourced contact center ending?

Outsourcing business operations to foreign countries has long been an attractive practice. Companies can take advantage of lower labor costs as well as reduced rent and other expenses in developing countries. But customer service has sometimes suffered by outsourcing contact center service to agents whose language, culture and knowledge of products may not yield stellar service.

Lately though, this practice is starting to diminish because of both customer backlash and companies' renewed interest in homegrown labor.

SearchCRM sat down with Brandon Knight, vice president of consulting services at Corvisa, at the 2015 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference to talk about companies moving away from outsourced contact centers and what this means for the industry as a whole.

Knight said that, across the board, customer satisfaction scores and Net Promoter Scores for companies that use outsourced contact centers located overseas have declined dramatically, where the word from customers is "Change or we'll stop buying your products."

"The customer is demanding a change based on the level of service they're receiving," Knight said. "Where companies in the past made efficiency and cost decisions, now they're finding that the cost of losing customers is outweighing their savings of having an offshore center."

Brandon Knight, V.P. of Consulting Services, Corvisa

Knight said that companies are looking to combat labor and facility rental expenses by looking toward mobility, virtual contact centers and allowing their agents to work from home. On the other hand, they are paying more for skilled labor but offsetting some costs by avoiding large offices and large-scale connectivity.

However, moving toward virtual contact centers and a mobile workforce has its own challenges, such as data and security concerns as well as lack of direct oversight of agents spread out across the country. It's caused companies to change the way they train agents and has led to customer-centric changes in philosophy.

For more, check out the podcast above.

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Has your company reversed course from investing in outsourced contact centers? Why?
When I worked as a technical support rep working directly in the building for a small software company, I always heard our customers saying they appreciated our deep understanding of our product and our ability to act autonomously to assist them with their needs.

I feel like when the contact center is outsourced, the reduced labor cost isn't just due to international economic factors, but it's also due to lost training opportunities and lost autonomy on the part of the representative.
Hey CarolBrands,

Thanks for the insight! These truly are changing times for the contact center industry.
I think many companies realized that you get what you pay for, and that the cost savings weren't being realized. Do you need someone to answer the phone, get a ticket created, and move on? Or do you need someone that, as Carol commented, has the skills to actually assist the caller with their needs (I like the way she phrased that). A company may think that the only need to former, but after some time realize they need the latter, or that it actually costs less to pay a knowledgeable person upfront to resolve the problem on first contact.