While researching for the niche, outsource call center business, a recent report quickly surfaced, which revised the global call center business’s anticipated growth in the light of the coronavirus pandemic as customer interactions move to digital from physical and virtual contact centers became the new norm.
There are estimates that the call centers’ global market would reach 339.4 billion USD in 2020. There are projections that it would reach a revised size of 496 billion USD by 2027, growing at 5.6% CAGR over the 2020 to 2027 period.
According to the report, considering the pandemic’s business implications and induced economic crisis, the outsourced call center segment’s growth is readjusted to a revised 5.9% CAGR for the upcoming seven-year period.
The call centers market in the United States is estimated at 100 billion USD in the year 2020. China, the second-largest economy globally, is forecast to reach an 87.4 billion USD projected market size by 2027, trailing a 5.2% CAGR over the period 2020 to 2027. Other noteworthy geographic markets include Canada and Japan, each forecast to grow at 4.4% and 5.3%, respectively, over the analysis period. Germany is predicted to grow at about 4.6% CAGR (1).
The number is slightly higher than the anticipated 5.6% for in-house call centers over the same period and much higher compared to the 4.7% growth the outsourced industry experienced since 2013.
Call Center Industry in India
India has 65% of the global offshore sourcing market, making Indian among the ideal destinations for outsourcing at present. India is home to some of the best outsourcing providers, who have successfully evolved with the changing market requirements. Considering the rising internet penetration, its vast, remote workforce, quality results, low overhead cost, and superior talent, India is only going to get better as the world’s leading outsourcing hub (2).
There are multiple processes in which outsourcing takes place in India. It includes software development, call center process, backend services, and recruitment process, to name a few. Among these, call center outsourcing is the biggest vertical that has changed the face of the country’s economy.
These are some of the primary reasons which have led to the exponential growth of call center industries in India.
- Skilled youth proficient in English, which is the essential requirement for most outsourced call centers.
- Reasonable property prices with less cost of installing hardware and hiring employees.
- Advancement made in the power industry and telecom industry has improved the overall quality of sectors across the country.
- Government policies in the country are not too strict for domestic or foreign call center companies.
In India, organizations have developed expertise in call centers’ multiple processes over the past few years.
Primary inbound services in the country include online sales, order taking, event scheduling, helpdesk services, and more. The companies also offer a gamut of outbound services, including telemarketing services, insurance verification, lead generation, and market research.
IBPS, India IBPS BPO Promotion Scheme, launched in August 2015 (3), is the Indian government’s ambitious project related to its BPO sector. It aimed to offer direct jobs to approximately 1,44,900 individuals in the industry. The expansion of the IT industry in the country is a major driving force behind this initiative.
According to the global consultancy firm EY, India is among the most attractive destinations for investment in the international market (4). Moreover, the Indian government’s decision to allow total equity foreign direct investment has attracted several companies to invest in call center services in the country.
We can forecast a bright picture of the country’s call center industry because of the decent support from the Indian government and exponential investment from foreign companies. Moreover, the rise of call center business in rural India reinforces the future of this business.
Pros and Cons of Call Center Outsourcing for Companies
There are at least four primary reasons why a company would outsource its call center. It all has to do with offloading the risk to the call center specialist instead of keeping it in-house.
Companies can be more flexible to the changing market requirement with call center outsourcing. If a business decides to move into a new market, it can be challenging to estimate how many call center employees it needs to add.
The same is also true when the company launches new products. The company would require to pay the call center’s fixed cost even if the expansion doesn’t earn enough revenue. On the other hand, the company only pays for the time employees spend on the phone when it outsources the call center.
2. International Markets Expansion
When an organization expands to the international market, it must have local call centers as the staff needs to understand the culture and speak the local language. An outsourced call center can handle it on a required basis.
There are times when companies have spikes in the businesses, such as during the holiday season. It is challenging to train, hire, and then lay off workers for those few months when there is a surge in demand. An organization that outsources its call center contracts out those uncertainties.
4. Customer Service
Telecommunications infrastructure has become unreliable, worn, or outdated. Maintaining it is costly and replacing it is even more. Moreover, an obsolete system can also reduce competitiveness. An outsourced call center offers the latest technology allowing businesses to focus on innovation in their goods and services.
The biggest reason why a firm would want to keep its call center in-house is control. It is especially vital for a company whose competitive merit is its customer service.
The service provider is the interface with the consumer. The brand promise of consumer service must be top. A company whose brand promise is innovation must also have its call center reflect that image. For a low-cost company, the following cons are not as critical.
One of the biggest complaints of outsourcing call centers is understanding foreign accents. Employees of foreign call centers’ accents sometimes keep customers from understanding them.
2. Culture Shock
Employees in foreign call centers are not as familiar with everyday domestic slang and phrases. Sometimes they are also not clear on geographic references. In turn, it reduces customers’ trust in their expertise.
3. Product Knowledge
Foreign call centers’ employees are far removed from the headquarters. They are not as familiar with the company’s services and products. It can reduce the confidence and resolution of customer problems (5).
While chatbots, AI, and other disruptive technologies are offering more communication channels than ever, phones are still customers’ favorite way to connect with businesses. Phones are still crucial for many customers and induce trust to be reachable while also offering a great way to sell (6).
Preferred Methods for Communication with Business and Service Providers
Last year, TJ Larking, the founder of Game Plan Leads (7), bought a call center in India and started the company. It initially focused on selling live transfer calls to insurance agents. Since then, the firm has broadened into other niche industries, including mortgages and solar roofing.
The business operates on a pay-per-lead model and charges 20 to 25 USD per insurance lead and up to 200 USD per solar lead.
There is a lot of opportunity in a percentage-of-sale model, earning a percentage of the total sale if the load converts, especially in higher-ticket industries, like solar.
One cohort where there is a lot of potential is the 65+ demographic. With 10k people in the United States turning 65 every day (8), there are several call centers and lead generation opportunities in niches such as medicare, retirement villages, and even burial insurance.
HelloGym, a company which started as an overflow answering service for gym franchises, has evolved into a turnkey consumer service platform for gym including inbound and outbound phone calls (9).
By targeting gym franchises, the company can expand quickly and offer a tailored solution at scale. One can leverage the same model to grow niche call centers in other industries with several franchises, including cleaning services, home repairs, real estate, package shipping, printing services, and more.
Additionally, HelloGym custom-built its gym management software to offer a fully integrated solution to its customers. There are many opportunities for others to do the same in other niche service industries such as construction, HVAC, healthcare care practitioners. Examples include chiropractors or different niches with solo practitioners or small offices looking to outsource its front-desk functionality.
Institutional money also witnesses opportunities in call center software.
The call center industry lured more than 400 million USD in funding last year. Over 15% of the industry’s total 3 billion USD in cumulative financing in only one year. Most of it has been allocated to call center software firms (10).
Some of the noteworthy deals include Talkdesk, which offers cloud-based contact-center software for enterprise clients. It received 143 million USD funding in July 2020 at a 3 billion USD valuation (11).
Dialpad offers voice, video, and contact center services and software. It received 100 million USD at a 1.2 billion USD valuation in October 2020 (12).
Aircall offers cloud-based call center software that integrates with productivity, helpdesk tools, and CRM (13).
Cumulative Funding in Call Center Companies
According to HelloGym, over 35% of calls to gyms go unanswered. Of those unanswered calls, more than 75% will not leave a voice message. It presents a huge cost in missed leads, especially in the HVAC industries, where the average lifetime value of a customer is more than 15k USD (14).
Even if one is not looking to offer a fully integrated service such as HelloGym, there are still several opportunities to outsource call center services or call overflow services to other high-growth industries. For instance, it includes spaces like ghost kitchens, food delivery, ecommerce, and other highly specialized small and medium D2C brands benefiting from the massive coronavirus pandemic tailwinds.
Tips for High-Quality Call Center Service Model
Quality determines excellent customer service. To achieve the quality of service, the provider must commit to solving customer problems and addressing their queries in the shortest possible time. There are several ways of attaining the desired quality service.
Here are some tips that can help you transform your call center operations into a high-quality administration capable of delivering excellent customer service (15).
Positive outlook and patience to handle customer queries are two of the essential attributes of any customer service professional. Customers tend to respond well to employees with an upbeat and friendly attitude; a positive attitude to work is necessary. It also makes the overall experience more memorable and pleasing to the customer.
Call center employees should question the customer in-depth to gain clarity on the exact nature of the problem. It is easy to get distracted in a conversation, especially if the consumer is not receptive to questions. One can achieve it by asking open-ended questions and practice careful listening.
Delivering consistency is the key to the reputation of being a great customer service provider. The excellent way to achieve it is to establish realistic performance metrics that consist of achievable call handling and service level agreements. When agents are not stressed, they can deliver consistent performance.
Anticipating customer requirements and offering responses, such as follow-up text messages, phone calls, and emails, improve overall service quality. Customers always appreciate brands who walked the extra mile. A proactive approach is one of the few things that can convince the customer well enough to transform them into a recurring customer.
Organized Service Channels
One can achieve timely customer service via organizing communication channels well. There may be several departments handling different aspects of the call center process. Getting them to collaborate and work well with each other is a critical aspect of achieving service efficiency.
The service agent should be updated on all product aspects or service aspects that the call center operations support. The knowledge to discuss products and services is fundamental to engaging with the customer to handle their problems and queries professionally. Process knowledge is also essential regarding earning the confidence of the customer.
Adapting to Changing Situations
One of the fundamental skills of a customer service provider is quickly adapting to rapidly evolving situations. Technical issues, change in IT infrastructure, changing customer needs, and introducing new service departments are some of the call center changes. The quality of the service will remain unaffected if agents are capable of adapting to these changes quickly.
Apart from being receptive to the customer’s issue, agents also need to be attentive to the customer’s most negligible requirements to deliver high-quality customer service. Such conditions include customers’ little preferences, such as choosing not to receive updates on promotions and offers. When they are attentive enough to help customers with such small requests, they will rate the customer service well.
The personal development of the agent is one of the key differentiating factors that constitutes excellent customer service. If one focuses on the agents’ knowledge, personality, and skills, call center service providers can extract the maximum productivity levels without putting in a lot of stress. Moreover, personal development also directly defines the quality of customer service.
A detailed operations plan that also accounts for the increased workload is essential. There should never be circumstances where the call volumes are so high that the number of available resources is not enough. From allocating the needed agents to managing their attendance, staffing management is crucial for excellent customer service.
It is worth highlighting the superior customer service gives a business the competitive age in the market. Perfecting the art of customer service is a differentiating factor that allows one to cement his reputation as an excellent customer service provider.