Call centers are a global industry. Where there are phones, businesses, and people you will find call centers. Yet, exactly how similar are all these multitudes of call centers? How different are call centers in each country? Can a business rely on a call center operating half way around the world to function in the same manner? As globalization marches on, how will companies with expanding multinational presences deal with the need to maintain multiple contact centers?

Let’s look at some of the similarities of globalized call centers based on the 2007 The Global Call Center Report: International Perspectives on Management and Employment released by The Global Call Center Project.

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The report looked at call centers in 17 countries spanning Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and Europe. Through a survey of 475,000 call center employees the authors were able to find recurring patterns.

Call centers in different countries actually have several similarities. One that crosses country boundaries is the relative youth of the call center segment, with an average age of 8 years. This makes sense in the context of the rise of service based economies. Some other similarities:

  • Geography – 86% of call centers serve their local, regional, or national market.
  • Internal – 66% of call centers server their own company’s customers
  • Segmentation – 75% of call centers serve the end consumer market while 25% serve the B2B market
  • Customer Service – 49% of call centers provided customer service only, 21% provide sales only, and 30% provide sales and service.
  • Inbound calls – 78% of call centers handle mainly inbound calls
  • Voice Only – An overwhelming majority of call centers are only able to contact customers through voice, with few adopting multichannel communications
  • Size – The average call center has 49 employees, but 75% of call center agents work in call centers that have greater than 230 employees.
  • Organization – 12% of employees in call centers are managers, making call centers relatively flat organizations.
  • Sex – 71% of call center employees are female

So what do all these statistics mean? It means wherever your call centers are located, you can expect a majority of your employees to be female, few managers, with a focus on inbound calls from consumers. Most of these call centers will not be outsourced and they will be serving your own customers in that market. In addition, your call centers are likely to only be able to handle voice.

That’s some data that can help managers prepare for when they open call centers to serve the needs of local markets. By setting up standardized policies in areas relating to the these facts, you can help streamline the call center opening process. Only processes and procedures that truly need customization will need changing. In addition, if a manager chooses to begin handling multichannel interactions, or do more than inbound calling then he will be able to distinguish his call center from his competitors.

What’s your call center like? What do you think about the state of the new global call center? What are the similarities and differences of call centers in different countries? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned for part 2.


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