Overseas Centers Turn Costs Into Profits

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Many companies claim that their customer service sets them apart from the competition. Their customers, who have been victims of long wait times and poor service, say otherwise. Slow response and poor service result in lost customers, lost cross-selling and upselling opportunities as well as a loss of repeat business and potential referrals.

A major factor in the poor performance of call centers is that the U.S. workforce perceives answering calls as a dead-end job, which generally is true. Call center jobs are entry-level positions, often filled by employees with little education and deficient in people skills. These uncommitted employees view the jobs as temporary until something better comes along, or simply as a paycheck.

As a result, the turnover rate often exceeds 100 percent yearly. The cost of operating a call center therefore includes not just labor and overhead but also the constant training and orientation of new employees. However, there is a better way.

The connection between customer satisfaction and loyalty is clear. Forward-thinking companies know that customer care requires well-educated, highly trained call center staff. In response, they outsource all or part of their in-house customer call centers to companies that specialize in customer care.

Many of these companies use employees in the Philippines, where customer call centers are staffed with well-spoken employees immersed in American culture, who speak English with little or no detectable accent. Customers never know they are speaking to reps outside the United States. Furthermore, most reps are college graduates and so are better educated and more goal-oriented than the typical U.S. call center employees.

Why the Philippines? In general, Filipinos are deeply hospitable, a trait that extends to the workplace. As employees, they have passion for delivering a superior customer experience and selling additional products and services, benefits that can mean more dollars for any business.

It's a simple equation: A customer who is comfortable and happy with a call center operator is more likely to be open to upselling and cross-selling of products. Moreover, because labor costs less in the Philippines, the outsourced customer call centers can be better staffed to handle a higher volume of calls. Customers' waits are reduced, and customer satisfaction rises.

The immediate savings companies realize by eliminating labor and overhead are only the beginning of turning costs into profits, especially because they are simultaneously increasing sales.

Companies that outsource to the Philippines also experience value derived from an enhanced reputation. The attitude of Filipino call center employees differs radically from what most U.S. companies have experienced. They become extensions of a client's company and view their jobs as prestigious career opportunities in the growing customer service industry. Filipino call center employees also are thoroughly trained to know the client's product or service, which helps them handle even the most demanding customers.

While Internet and globally positioned technology companies have taken the lead in using overseas teams, outsourcing customer call centers to the Philippines makes sense for any business. As global technology creates a seamless international business environment, firms capitalize on it by outsourcing call center operations to professional overseas teams. With the ability to cross-sell and provide technical support, all in the same call, customer service calls are handled far more efficiently. And satisfied customers mean more sales and repeat business.


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