Horror stories about a customer service call that was routed offshore abound. How many times do you remember having a hard time understanding the offshore agent? How many times can you recall a foreign customer service representative having a hard time understanding you?

Some recent data published by the CFI Group in their 2010 Contact Center Satisfaction Index showed that satisfaction with calls perceived to be handled in the US as more than 20% higher than calls perceived to be handled offshore. Callers also reported that one of the biggest differences between offshore and American call centers was the ease of understanding the service agent. Customers also said that first call resolutions were almost one fifth higher for American call centers versus offshore call centers.

With all of this sobering data, what options are left for call centers looking to cut costs?

The Closer the Better

Nearshoring is one possible option. Nearshoring refers to sending calls to a nearby country’s call center. For the US and example would be Mexico or the Dominican Republic. However, nearshoring needs to be executed very carefully with constant attention to customer satisfaction metrics. An agent in another country is still and agent in another country. For Spanish only calls, Mexico may be a good alternative for you call center. Countries that have some cultural context through relatives in the home country may also be good choices. Nearshore countries usually have less risk, less travel costs, and similar time zones.

Captive Centers

A captive offshore center is a call center run by American or local managers from the home company. According to Mary Murcott, CEO of NOVO 1, an American contact center provider, these kinds of operations seem to be doing better than companies that have offshored and outsourced their call centers.

No Place Like Home

Most companies look to India to provide offshore call center services. The problem with an offshore call center in India is the lack of context that these workers have. Their training consists of reading from scripts. Obviously, this doesn’t exactly mesh well with the highly fluctuating and necessary rapid adaptation skills needed for customer service relations. If the customer deviates from the script, the service agent becomes lost. This confusion can lead to frustration and ultimately an unhappy customer with unresolved problems.

Companies are moving their call centers back to the US because of the myriad problems with offshored customer service. Two recent examples are Delta Airlines and US Airways both closing offshore call centers.

One possible solution is the use of virtualized contact centers. By using telework packages and cloud based call center solutions, companies can decentralize their call center operations and save on associated real estate and office costs. Other options include contracting out call center services to a virtualized call center service provider, so-called “homeshoring” vendors.

Whatever the choice, remember that in all business interactions, the customer experience should be considered.

One Response to “Offshoring, Nearshoring, and Homeshoring: What to Choose?”

  1. iWebaid says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Both of them are important as a homesource job and I agree that whatever the choice, remember that in all business interactions, the customer experience should be considered.

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