Global call centers are a reality in today’s globalized society. How do the different countries and cultures influence the call center industry? Are there different best practices when operating call centers in different countries? Can countries be loosely grouped based on their traits? What should a call center manager do in this new world of lowered boundaries?

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the similarities between call centers in different countries. Today we’re going to examine some of the differences of global call centers.

The findings presented here are based on the 2007 The Global Call Center Report: International Perspectives on Management and Employment released by The Global Call Center Project.

Diverging Paths

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.

The authors found that the makeup of the national labor markets influenced the way call centers were managed and operated. They grouped the call center countries into three main categories:

  1. Coordinated/social market – ex. Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel – These countries had strong labor regulations and powerful labor institutions. Call centers in these countries tended to have better quality jobs, lower turnover, and less differences in wages than the other categories. They also had the most usage of non-standard work agreements.
  2. Liberal market – ex. Canada, USA, UK, Ireland – These countries had weaker labor regulations and less influential labor institutions. Call centers in these countries tended to have employees that take the longest to become proficient at their job, have the lowest job discretion,  lowest coverage by unions, and higher levels of wage differences.
  3. Transitional/recently industrialized – ex. Brazil, India, South Africa, South Korea – These countries had very recently moved to an industrialized economy. Call centers in these countries typically have very frequent performance monitoring, low-middling unionization, greater wage differences, and longest workforce tenure.

Some of the statistics also showed high degrees of variation. For example, 22% of all call centers primarily recruited college graduates while 60% of call centers in France and India primarily used college graduates. In most European countries, only 10% of call centers used mainly college graduates.

So what’s the implications? If you are managing a call center in a more socialized country like France, you can expect a smarter and more powerful workforce. Greater regulations will also make things more complex and use of contract or temporary employees will be much more normal. In a liberal market call center, you can expect a long training time but less union pressure. Industrialized call centers will likely accept frequent performance monitoring as normal and employees who are more experienced because they work at the call center longer. If you want agents that will have more experienced, you may want to consider locating a call center in an industrializing country. In addition, if you hate regulations then you should consider a call center in a liberal or industrializing country.

How do you manage your call center? What do you think about the state of the new global call center? Can you leverage different cultures to benefit your business? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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