Outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean going abroad. In fact, that might not even be your best choice.
Sure, you could save money by finding a partner in a country with a lower cost of living and wages. And we all know that profits matter.
But we also know that they can’t be your only goal. When it comes down to it, customer experience matters. The effectiveness of your support matters. And of course, a consistent brand experience matters.
That’s why, despite the cost benefits of going abroad, choosing a US-based outsourced call center might actually be more effective. Get it right, and it might just help your business thrive.
Don’t take our word for it. Instead, consider these 10 benefits of using a US-based call center as you consider outsourcing.
1) No Language or Accent Concerns
You’ll hear the most obvious advantage of staying within the U.S. frequently: there are no language concerns.
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of finally getting through the automated voice system only to get an agent on the other line who, despite their best efforts, is impossible to understand. In countries like India and the Philippines, agents will speak English as a first language–but they do so with an accent that is difficult for Americans to understand.
That’s a potential problem.
Research shows that 75% of Americans don’t speak a second language. Understanding a call center agent who does, despite their best efforts to speak English, tends to be difficult.
Another, related study found that humans naturally tend to distrust anyone with an accent, adding to the concerns that foreign call center agents bring.
Work with a US-based call center, and those concerns tend to go away. The language barrier, in other words, becomes non-existent.
2) A Greater Cultural Understanding
Closely related to the potential language barrier is a difference in cultures that tends to be impossible to grasp. Most foreign call center outsourcing these days goes to India and the Philippines. Let’s look at the cultural differences between these countries and the U.S.
- Cultural differences between India and the U.S. range from a vastly different social structure to differing relationships with time, family, and spirituality.
- Cultural nuances in the Philippines include an extreme emphasis on respect and family, a highly religious everyday life, and an emphasis on tradition.
This exercise is easily repeatable with any country your company may consider outsourcing its call services to.
No matter the country, these differences matter. A call center agent, inbound or outbound, will need to build up trust and credibility with your audience. That means understanding both broad cultural strokes like the above and more nuanced, simple facts and feats.
Does the agent know it’s a holiday, no matter how minor? Do they understand local slang and colloquialisms that would not have been taught in English class? Do they care that it’s the day of the Super Bowl when they call?
Naturally, outsourced call centers in the U.S. will tend more towards yes to any of these and other related questions.
3) Better Knowledge of the Audience
Basic marketing best practices suggest focusing on your audience’s needs and expectations before your own. It’s the only way to achieve a value-based marketing strategy designed to get attention, keep that attention, and turn it into revenue.
So why do so many companies not extend that audience focus to customer service, an important part of retention marketing?
If your customer base is largely in the United States, domestic call center agents are naturally closer to them. It’s important to understand what that means:
- They better understand your audience’s culture (see above).
- They have a better understanding of everyday life.
- They can more easily see themselves as your audience and provide relevant, empathetic service.
The formula is simple: if you want to focus your customer service and marketing around your audience, their interactions with your company have to be authentic. That’s much more likely if the geographical proximity between target audience and call center agent is minimal.
4) More Skilled Call Agents
Not surprisingly, the United States is among the most educated nations in the world. That has a natural impact on the types of agents that will work on your company’s behalf.
Most positions in this industry require a high school diploma as part of the education. That means before even considering any training (more on that later), every agent has a natural knowledge base higher than the average agent in a foreign country.
Of course, a number of agents also have college degrees, further raising that education level.
The result of this benefit is simple. Call center agents based in the U.S. are typically able to clearly articulate and explain, learn quickly, and acquire new skills relevant to your industry and company.
In other words, you can feel more comfortable with them representing your business on the phone with your audience.
5) No Time Zone Differences
Some of the benefits of U.S. based calling operations are simply functional. Consider, for instance, the fact that you don’t have to worry about time zone differences in this scenario.
Yes, call centers can operate around the clock. But studies have shown that anyone working a night shift tends to be more tired, less attentive, and less productive. Now, think about that difference: a casual 6pm evening in Washington, D.C. is actually 4am in India.
With that type of outsourcing, the adverse effects of time zone differences are almost inevitable.
The same potential problems extend to operational concerns, as well. Simply put, working with a U.S. based operation means being more easily able to get in touch with them to plan strategy, conduct trainings and workshops, and more.
Their work day tends to be your work day, so planning meetings and getting answers on an impromptu call becomes much more natural.
6) Reduced Security Concerns
Anytime you give up control over a part of your operations, some level of concern naturally exists. You are now dealing with an entity other than your own business, complete with their own interests, business goals, and desires.
That can go sideways all too easily.
Imagine, for instance, needing to receive sensitive information from customers (such as credit cards of medical information) as part of an average call. You will now need to rely on the call center to keep that data safe.
A number of international call centers are certainly trustworthy. But especially for companies with limited resources, it’s difficult to distinguish between these and the more worrisome ones. Working with domestic company gives you more peace of mind that your company’s best interests will be protected.
7) Training Potential and Possibilities
Every agent who works on your behalf needs some type of training. For some, that’s more true than others:
- Customer service agents for complex tech products
- Agents who need to handle potentially complicated billing issues
- Multi-tier subscription services
- Medical industry representatives
All need a relatively advanced level of understanding about your business and the industry as a whole. That might be difficult to achieve in a foreign country, due to issues like language barriers and time zone differences as well as simple service-level limitations.
The same is not necessarily true in the U.S. Greater physical and cultural proximity make a training component more natural and achievable even in an outsourced call center.
The result tends to be a significant benefit. Not only can you make sure that the agents working on your behalf know what they’re talking about, but you can also train them over time to become better and more complete representatives of your company as a whole.
8) A More Consistent Branding Experience
Closely related to training possibilities is the ability to build a better brand experience. Sure, call center agents typically work on straightforward and technical issues. But the margins can matter just as much when it comes to building your brand:
- Do the agents use the same type of language and terminology as your marketing materials, website, and product?
- Do the agents accurately represent your brand voice and personality, from warm and friendly to cool and professional?
- Are the agents aware of your core points of differentiation, and able to point to them as required?
- Do the agents know, at least on some level, how your company is positioned in relation to others in the same industry?
These are difficult questions to answer. Someone just hired off the street probably won’t know them. Only thorough training and education can help you get your call center agents to this level of congruency. That’s more possible in the U.S., where training opportunities are more natural.
It’s a long road. The benefit of getting there, though, is significant. While inconsistent brand usage creates confusion, consistency in the same area actually boosts revenue significantly. A partner in the U.S. makes that easier to achieve.
9) Better Reporting and QA Abilities
Don’t underestimate the importance of reporting and quality assurance when it comes to any external partner, especially your call center. Through call logs and analytics, you can gain significant insight into a number of important questions:
- Are customers getting their questions answered?
- What’s the ratio of successful vs. unsuccessful sales calls?
- What’s the average length of a typical successful call?
- What are the factors that make a call successful?
- Are there agent-specific trends that lead to success (or the lack thereof)?
- And much more.
The problem is that this type of data can be difficult to obtain with foreign partners. Reporting tends to be more basic here, such as total number of calls or calls per minute.
American companies are typically more familiar with the type of qualitative and quantitative data needed to truly assess the quality of your calling efforts. As a result, you can work with them more easily to build reports according to your needs and preferences.
10) Lower Long-Term Costs
Yes, the initial cost of going abroad to outsource your inbound and/or outbound calling is lower. However, the same is not necessarily true when you from from narrow costs of operation to a broader view of the concept, and from costs as a whole to revenue opportunities..
According to the National Association of Call Centers, almost half of American companies are still cost-driven when it comes to finding a partner who can provide agents. At the same time, one report found that U.S. companies lose an annual $75 billion due to poor customer service.
It’s not difficult to see how one can lead to the other.
Yes, staying domestic will lead to higher overhead. But, as established throughout this article, the same step also improves your audience interactions. It’s easier to curb those significant revenue losses as a result of poor customer service.
And even considering costs on a narrow level is not as convincing towards going abroad as you might think. The average U.S. call center worker only earns 15% more than their Indian counterpart. As that gap continues to narrow, keeping your outsourced call center in the country only makes more sense.
Finding An Outsourced Call Center You Can Trust
The above benefits are quite exhaustive. Some of them are more complex than others. Combine them, and they all lead to the same thing:
If you’re looking to outsource your inbound or outbound calling, you need to find a partner you can trust.
That’s not always easy. After all, you don’t know the company yet and can only rely on your judgment.
What you can do, though, is to make sure that judgment is as informed as possible. And that includes ensuring that the partner you’re looking for is based in the U.S.
It’s not a requirement. You do have to consider higher initial costs. At the same time, you also have to understand the potentially significant advantages that come with this choice.
Choose right, and you get a partner who will play an active part in building and growing your business. That partner can help to ensure you make more effective sales calls and improve your customer service, all within the confines of your larger business strategy.
Finding that partner can take time. But if you start looking in the U.S., you’re already on the right path.