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The Call Center Returns Home

By Patrick Cisler

I’m sure you’ve been there. Stuck on the customer service line for longer than you anticipated, trying to resolve an issue you have with a product or service provider. You are either frustrated by the lack of a human on the other line, often being forced to choose from an endless number of dial options, or maybe once you do connect to, you encounter a language barrier or an unhelpful associate. A few years ago, I felt that this was the norm for customer service, but recently, I have noticed a change in many of the customer service calls I have made.

I’ve encountered that there are fewer automated recording hoops to jump through before I’m connected to an onshore worker that seem to be more cheerful than ever. This isn’t by chance that I have experienced more pleasant customer service calls, but rather, there is a movement at hand in the market for Call Centers.

Call Centers handle not just inbound calls but also outbound calls in the form of telemarketing, payment collections, technical support, and other BPO functions. For many years, Call Center operations were being moved to developing countries to cut down on labor costs. From a company’s standpoint, this made perfect sense. However, as mentioned above, customers experienced language barrier issues and became frustrated with the service they were provided. With such a high level of dissatisfaction in recent years, many companies are bringing these jobs back to the United States.

Now I understand that most regions of the United States are hoping to see a return of manufacturing jobs, but in trying times such as these, adding any jobs is a good thing. Call Centers don’t just add a dozen jobs here and there, but rather, new Call Center offices often hire a few hundred upwards to over a thousand new employees at a time. This can bring a dramatic boost to a local economy suffering from high unemployment.

On a recent project that involved Call Centers, I was struck by how many of the companies we researched had recently opened new branches or were planning on it in the near future. In many industries there is usually a few years gap between any kinds of new building space being added. With Call Centers it was often one year in between. Many of the larger Call Center companies operate dozens of branches around the United States, and most of them are in small to mid-size communities. Not only do Call Centers provide a large number of jobs in the short-term, but in addition, the period between attraction and move-in for the company is often a short one. Call Centers often move into previously used property and can be outfitted quickly to fit their needs. In conclusion, small to mid-size communities that have a lower-skilled workforce should be welcoming this opportunity to attract Call Centers to their area. Happy Hunting!

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