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Call Center Outsourcing and Quality in India

Outsourcing call or contact centers is a common process that has appealed to many business leaders. This strategy has made it easier for firms to trim business costs especially in the current global economic climate (Agarwal et al. 52). The practice has been characterized by extra benefits such as improving efficiency and reducing the risks associated with employment law. Many American multinational corporations have outsourced various customer services to India. Some of these firms include Ford Motors and American Express (Amex). These corporations have gained confidence with the leading service providers in the nation because of “costs, exemplary talent, and speedy turnaround” (Raja and Bhasin 176). Unfortunately, some skeptics still believe that the model has led to numerous quality concerns.

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Quality Issues Arising from Call Center Outsourcing to India

The first challenge associated with the use of call centers in India arises from cultural differences. India is a country that embraces a unique culture and tradition. Guilbault and Omanwa argue that cultural difference has the potential to impact customer satisfaction (72). This is the case because most of the employees in such call centers have unique values, belief systems, and expectations (Agarwal et al. 55). On the other hand, the targeted customers in the United States and other parts of the world tend to have diverse expectations. This cultural difference explains why the needs of the customers are not fulfilled adequately.

The psychological health outcomes of many employees in different call centers in India continue to dictate the quality of services available to the targeted customers. A study conducted in 2013 in a company called Delhi-NCR indicated that over 90 percent of the workers were unhappy with the working conditions (Raja and Bhasin 176). The study revealed that work-life balance was not taken seriously. Many call center employees in the country are exposed to a wide range of challenges such as poor mental health and lack of support. The working environments are associated with poor conditions. Some workers have recorded psychological problems such as burnout and stress. These problems have been observed to affect the level of customer satisfaction.

A report published by the MIT Sloan Management Review in 2010 indicated that outsourcing was one of the models undermining the experiences of many customers especially in automobile industry (Agarwal et al. 53). Companies such as Ford Motors and General Motors were recording “a decline in customer satisfaction scores” (Agarwal et al. 57). The situation was even worse for companies that had outsourced such call center services from countries such as India and Indonesia. The report further indicated that organizational cultures, leadership models, and consumer perception differences contributed to such outcomes.

Aziz indicates that many firms within the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector have been associated with similar challenges (247). This is the case because the employees working in such call centers find it impossible to deal with workplace stress. Aziz goes further to indicate that majority of the studies conducted in the recent have showed conclusively that occupational stress is a major problem affecting many call center firms in India (249). Consequently, majority of the customers receiving call center services from such organizations have recorded increased levels of dissatisfaction. The customers tend to become angry and stop doing business with their respective companies. Experts have also indicated that longer working hours result in burnout. These issues have undermined the quality of support available to the targeted customers.

It is acknowledgeable that many companies and customers in Europe and the United States are no longer satisfied with the services provided by offshore call centers (Agarwal et al. 57). This is the leading reason why some companies have been pulling most of their call center roles from India. Dell is one of the companies that decided to pull their call center services back to the United States. This has been the same case for many firms in the computer technology industry. According to the firm, the quality of support was affected by the cultural attributes and language barriers arising from the BPO model. This was also the same case for firms in the aviation industry such as the United States Airways Group (USAG).

A study conducted by CFI Group in the year 2013 indicated that offshore centers in India recorded reduced levels of satisfaction. Customers were observed to terminate their business relationships with their companies due to poor call center services (Aziz 250). These quality concerns have led to reduced revenues for many companies in the United States.

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Aziz encourages outsourcing companies in India to address the problem of culture (250). They can do so by attracting individuals from different cultural backgrounds in order to offer personalized services to the targeted customers. American companies can “embrace the idea of nearshoring” (Guilbault and Omanwa 68). This approach will ensure more companies identify call centers that appear to sync with the local culture. Call center providers should identify the best strategies to address the unique challenges experienced in their workplaces. Provision of gymnasium facilities and promotion of work-life balance will definitely empower the employees to deliver exemplary services to the customers. Companies can also liaise with call center agencies to equip workers with adequate skills that can meet the needs of the targeted customers.

Works Cited

Agarwal, Sumit, et al. “Impact of Service Quality Dimensions towards Customer Satisfaction in Indian Call Centers.” Pacific Business Review International, vol. 6, no. 1, 2013, pp. 51-64.

Aziz, Mohsin. “Factors Causing: A Study of Indian Call Centres.” Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, vol. 2, no. 8, 2013, pp. 247-252.

Guilbault, Melodi, and Verna Omanwa. “Culture and the Impact on Customer Service: Considerations for Offshoring to India.” Atlantic Marketing Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, 2014, pp. 63-73.

Raja, Jeyapal, and Sanjiv Bhasin. “Health Issues Amongst Call Center Employees, An Emerging Occupational Group in India.” Indian Journal of Community Medicine, vol. 39, no. 3, 2014, pp. 175-177.

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