Reduced costs aren’t the only reason why you should use an offshore call center.
And while it may be true that most businesses are initially tempted to use offshore call centers because of their potential cost savings, that’s just one of the advantages they have over their alternatives.
Offshore Call Centers vs. Other Types of Call Centers
Nearshore Call Centers
Nearshore call centers are located in countries adjacent to the primary market—such as Mexico to the United States.
These kinds of call centers can benefit from their geographical proximity in two ways. One, because shared cultural nuances can translate into greater mutual understanding during calls, and two, because having time zones that are more closely synchronized can make real-time collaboration easier in the first place.
However, when you stack them against offshore call centers, a few differences arise. For example, while nearshore centers can offer reduced costs compared to in-house models, they’re often not as competitively priced as those in other regions.
Meanwhile, the primary advantage of nearshore call centers is beginning to dwindle, as the rise of proficient multilingual agents in offshore centers is narrowing that gap over time.
In-house Call Centers
The traditional model of in-house call centers entails running operations within the company’s own primary facility.
The main appeal of this model is the added control and oversight it brings. Businesses have full access to conduct operations, quality control, and agent training the way they want—with every call and interaction under the direct purview of the company.
While this level of management tends to take up extra bandwidth, it also makes real-time adjustments and quality checks much more feasible.
But all that control comes at a price, as the overhead costs associated with in-house call centers can be substantial. In addition to paying employee salaries, in-house call centers also have to worry about facility costs, technology infrastructure upkeep, and continuous hiring and/or training.
Hence, after comparing all of the in-house expenses to the bundled packages that offshore call centers can offer, it’s no wonder the latter is almost always the more economical choice.
Work-at-home Call Centers
The shift toward remote work has added some extra tailwind to the popularity of work-at-home call centers. In this model, agents are equipped with a computer and a reliable internet connection to provide services from somewhere other than the main company office.
This model has a couple key advantages:
- It reduces facility costs by eliminating the need for more office space.
- It makes it possible to hire a diverse network of talent from various locations.
The trouble with at-home call centers comes with monitoring and ensuring consistent productivity. Without direct oversight, companies have to rely on digital tools to monitor calls and agent activity.
Additionally, the initial setup and training process can pile on more costs, making this model less affordable and more time-consuming than it might appear at first glance.
Price Matters: Everything You Didn’t Know About Offshore Call Center Costs
When compared to their alternatives, offshore call centers are able to offer competitive pricing due to the absence of many expenses that in-house call centers are forced to bear.
Beyond the wages of the agents, companies with in-house call centers bear the costs of:
- Technology and Software: This isn’t just about buying computers and headphones. Modern-day companies need to invest in advanced CRM systems, AI-driven chatbots, data analytics tools, and tech support to stay competitive.
- Facility Maintenance: Beyond monthly rent and/or mortgages, companies need to consider utilities, janitorial services, infrastructure upgrades, and unforeseen repair costs.
- Hiring and Training: These are costs associated with interviews, background checks, and skill assessments during the agent hiring process, plus the comprehensive training sessions required during onboarding.
- Employee Benefits: Besides basic salaries, there’s also health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, and even perks like gym memberships and childcare support to consider if your business offers company-wide benefits.
- Salaries for Executives and Managers: Agents are the front-liners, but solid management usually demands even heftier salaries for strategy and oversight.
- Insurance: Beyond employee health insurance, there’s also liability insurance and property insurance—and possibly even more depending on the nature and location of your company’s operations.
- Additional Overhead: These are the unforeseen costs you may encounter, from replacing malfunctioning equipment to legal consultancy fees.
In short, the variable and overhead costs can add up fast with in-house call centers. Meanwhile, the hourly wages of offshore vendors generally relieve you of most of these costs, making it a more economical choice for many businesses.
Offshore call centers also tend to have economies of scale, meaning they can leverage their larger operations and streamlined processes to distribute costs more evenly across multiple clients. This efficiency is reflected in their competitive pricing.
Fear Not, Offshore Call Centers Aren’t Just Cheaper
Despite all the benefits they provide, offshore call centers sometimes come with horror stories about their pitfalls. We’ve all seen the articles with those big, scary drawbacks.
However, many of the cons of offshore call centers don’t add up for most modern businesses to treat them like the Boogeyman.
The case against offshore call centers due to language barriers is rapidly becoming obsolete as the majority of centers emphasize English proficiency.
Many nations recognize the global importance of English and have invested in education systems that prioritize the language. In certain offshore locations, you might even find agents with accents that are more neutral than expected.
Meanwhile, it’s also arguable that bringing additional language proficiencies to the table is more of a pro than a con, as it allows businesses to cater to a wider customer base—like a bridge to new markets.
Culture can be intricate and varied, so the notion that offshore centers will inevitably struggle due to a clash of cultures is most likely flawed. Every agent, whether in-house or offshore, has the potential to bring a unique perspective.
Once again, instead of seeing this as a challenge, businesses can leverage it as a strength. A diverse pool of agents can often be better at handling a diverse pool of customers. Thus, a more culturally diverse team can lead to richer, more empathetic interactions.
Data Security and Privacy
Data security has moved to the forefront of business concerns, and most offshore call centers have the technology to keep up with a rapid pace. Modern offshore call centers are fortified with advanced cloud telephony, VoIP solutions, and rigorous encryption protocols.
More and more offshore call centers are demonstrating their understanding that trust is hard to regain after being broken just once. As a result, they are investing heavily to ensure that customer data is guarded like a treasure.
A common misconception is that offshore implies outdated tech. In reality, offshore call centers often lead the charge in adopting the latest technological advancements.
Since their business model is reliant on seamless communication, offshore call centers can’t afford to lag. They often have state-of-the-art CRM systems, AI-driven support tools, and advanced analytics platforms, so the onus is on businesses to vet and ensure their off-shore vendor.
Besides, companies should apply this level of due diligence regardless of geographical location.
Lack of Control
Most concerns about lack of oversight with offshore centers stem from outdated understandings.
With today’s collaboration tools, managers can monitor, guide, and interact with teams no matter if they’re in the next room or halfway across the world.
As for data sensitivity, limiting access to critical information isn’t a strategy exclusive to offshore setups—it’s a universal best practice. With video calls and real-time project management tools, maintaining control is no longer a Herculean task.
Cognizant of their role in the global business ecosystem, offshore call center hubs are often proactive in sculpting conducive regulatory landscapes.
Take the Philippines, for instance. Over the years, not only have the call centers there emphasized English education, but they’ve also participated in the fortification of regulations governing the overall call center domain. This proactive approach ensures that businesses can operate in full compliance with local regulations.
What to Look for in an Offshore Call Center
Not all offshore call centers are created equal, so there are many things to keep in mind when trying to find the best offshore call center.
- 24/7, 365 Service Availability: This ensures your customers have support at every hour of every day.
- Established Workforce Management: It’s important to have organized systems to handle high call volumes. Efficiency must be at the forefront of their operations.
- Reliability: They need to offer consistent service so you can trust in their consistency.
- Leadership: A strong managerial presence guiding operations is often important for top-notch service delivery.
- Regulations: Adherence to international and local rules is paramount because it ensures compliance at every level.
- Company/Brand Culture Alignment: Centers that understand your brand and resonate with its values provide consistency for your customers.
- Call Center Culture: If there’s a nurturing environment that values its agents, this can lead to happier agents and therefore more satisfied customers.
- Call Center Monitoring: Centers that use modern tools to track and assess call quality are essential for maintaining higher service standards.
- Quality of Customer Service: Agents who have the skills to go above and beyond can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates.
- Technology/Infrastructure: If the center employs the latest technological solutions, this helps ensure your operations will run smoothly at all times.
Is an Offshore Call Center Right for You?
For businesses with tight finances, those that serve customers round-the-clock, or those looking to make their mark on the global stage, offshore call centers can be a great solution.
Their appeal isn’t just cost-related, either. With multi-lingual support, offshore call centers can open doors to international markets and free up operational capacity to focus on other tasks.
That said, there are several types of business types that might get the most out of leveraging offshore call centers. These include:
- Ecommerce platforms: With customers in various time zones, 24/7 support can be invaluable.
- Tech companies: For firms that have users worldwide, especially those offering SaaS products, offshore support can manage different time zones effectively.
- Tourism and travel agencies: Catering to international clientele often requires multi-lingual representatives and round-the-clock availability.
- Online education and learning platforms: A global student base can also necessitate demanding customer support services.
- Healthcare service providers: Offshore callcenters can be especially helpful for telemedicine and online consultation services.
- Financial institutions: Online banks and fintech companies that operate across borders typically require diverse and highly available support.
- Retail chains with an online presence: Ecommerce stores can benefit from offshore call centers for catering to the needs of international online shoppers.
- Startups: Offshore centers can be huge for bootstrapped companies, especially those that are scaling rapidly and need to allocate budget wisely.
- Subscription-based services: Offering anything from streaming video to monthly deliveries may require 24/7 customer service.
- B2B service providers: Those who might serve clients in various parts of the world need to offer timely support.
Leveraging the advantages of offshore call centers can be the key to providing scalable and cost-effective customer support.
When compared to the alternatives, offshore call centers blend the best of all worlds. They offer cost-effectiveness akin to the work-at-home model, round-the-clock service that in-house centers might struggle with, and a multi-lingual support structure that nearshore centers pride themselves on. In other words, they’re an ideal choice for businesses looking to balance quality with cost.