Generally, call centres have a poor reputation in the Caribbean, although countries are clamouring to have them. Here are four reasons why they are still needed.
For at least the past decade, Caribbean countries have been largely dependent on foreign investors to revitalise and grow their economies. Although many receive considerable support from donor agencies, there is also a focus on attracting private investors who are prepared to establish operations in their countries. One of the areas governments have been eager to grow is offshore outsourcing, especially the call centre segment.
However, over the years, the call centre sector, generally, has developed a less than stellar reputation. Not only are they considered to offer low paying jobs, in the past, many countries had the bad experience of having facilities close virtually overnight, leaving both their employees and service providers in abeyance.
With such a poor image, why does the call centre industry still continue to grow globally, and why are the countries still keen to court those businesses? Below four reasons are outlined.
1. They create jobs countries desperately need
Without a doubt, most countries that are looking to develop their offshore call centre industry are doing so to take advantage of its job creation potential. In comparison to tourism and agriculture, for example, and for the level of investment needed, call centres tend to create large numbers of jobs.
In the Caribbean, most countries have been experiencing high levels of unemployment, especially among their youth population. Recognising the urgent need to have individuals gainfully employed and contributing to society, call centres can be a vital means of absorbing semi-skilled workers (especially high school graduates) for agent positions in particular, for whom there might be relatively few job opportunities for the demand that exists.
2. They promote efficient use of resources
In most firms, their in-house call centre operation, along with their back-office administrative requirements – whilst critical to their survival and success – are not their core business. However, when they are in-house, considerable attention, manpower and expertise are needed to develop and maintain them – even though they can be categorised as non-core – though they compete for resources that should more prudently be assigned to core activities.
Being able to outsource those activities to a third party and focus on its core functions, promotes efficient use of resources in an organisation. Further, that efficiency can translate to costs savings, which has become a critical requirement to be competitive in today’s business environment.
3. They possess domain expertise to provide quality service
While people might turn up their noses at call centres, and may have had poor experiences with some of them, the truth is when they are well executed the quality of the service they offer far exceeds whatever a client organisations can deliver. The reason for this is that in a well-established call centre, rigorous systems have been implemented and numerous metrics are being tracked in real time to ensure that – at the very least – it meets the targets prescribed in its service level agreements with clients.
Ultimately, call centre operations are their business. Accordingly, they have developed the systems, expertise, and experience to deliver quality, yet cost effective, solutions for their clients.
4. Customers still need to speak with a human
Although we are all tech-savvy and frequently, prefer to text rather than talk, when in need, it is always desirable to be able to speak with someone and get the assistance we need. Having said this, and as technology evolves, new options and solutions, such as those relying on artificial intelligence, will come to the market with the aim of more fully automating the process and replace the human call centre agent.
However, whilst having a fully automated call centre process with absolutely no human interaction might eventually be welcomed by organisations, there are still likely to be situations that cannot left solely in the hands of a software application. Hence, when all else fails, there is still likely to be the need to talk with someone who might be able to help.
Image credit: Mighty Ducks (flickr)