It's hard to fight the compelling economic reality of outsourcing call centers. Indian call center workers make a salary some 90 percent lower than their American counterparts, after all.
Yet some companies, including U.S. Bancorp, are bucking the call center outsourcing trend and spending some pretty big bucks -- $20 million over two years in U.S. Bancorp's case -- on call centers here in the States.
The reason? They think their call centers are too strategic to be outsourced. Some observers agree. An analyst interviewed in the story about U.S. Bancorp says call centers are a focal point for relationship building for banks now that fewer of their customers visit branches on a regular basis.
A Source Renaissance analyst summed it up nicely in an interview with IT Business Edge: a "razor-sharp dispute over customer care vs. cost management."
Though few companies have hard ROI models to back it up, Aberdeen Group says the belief that call centers are becoming more strategic is driving more of them to invest in several key technologies: VoIP, speech recognition, data integration and performance analytics.
Yet strategic or not, some companies may want to outsource at least some of their call center work. We like this tip on selecting an outsourcing provider from a TMCnet.com article: Conduct a "blind test" of a provider's work by calling, faxing, instant messaging and e-mailing agents at a center it operates.