On March, 9, the Wall Street Journal featured
two prominently located stories on call centers moving jobs offshore. The
first article, Kentucky
Answered Call of the Future -- But Got Bad News, (subscription
required) was on the front page and discussed how Sykes Enterprises and
John Sykes in particular received tremendous incentives to the tune of
$7.6 million, to come to
. According to the Journal, Sykes then trained 3,000 workers and soon
thereafter started to relocate jobs offshore, closing offices in
. Sykes Enterprises was accused of putting the incentive money they had received in their back pocket and running.
The next story titled, Press
1 for Delhi, 2 for Dallas, details E-Loan, a $6 billion dollar
mortgage company that gives customers a choice of processing their loans
in the U.S. or in India, where they will be processed up to two days
sooner. A staggering 86 percent of home equity loan customers opt to go to
The Journal has done a good job of reporting on the
offshoring phenomenon, but many news agencies dont understand the
difference between outsourcing and offshoring and are lumping the terms
together. This sets a
dangerous trend of stigmatizing the term outsourcing.
If you arent aware, the general media such as
CNBC, CNN, Fox and others are spending hours upon hours talking about how
bad international outsourcing is for our economy and American workers. As
an outsourcer, you know that to stay competitive, you need to explore your
options and do whatever it takes to keep your customers happy. That may
mean setting up centers in
and wherever else your customers demand.
With a statistic in the above E-Loan article stating
that 86 percent of customers would trade US jobs for a few days faster
loan processing, it should be apparent that customers prefer time savings
and likely cost savings to keeping US jobs here.
In the past, I too have been critical of the
offshoring trend and its role in the destruction of American jobs. It is
apparent to me now that if
outsourcers and others dont offer agents in less expensive countries,
they will be uncompetitive and lose business to international competition.
The lost jobs argument is now front and center and we
cant expect it to fade until well after the election, if at all. Over
250,000 contact center jobs have been lost to
alone in the last few years and the trend is just getting started.
The negative press being received by teleservices
outsourcers and their corporate executives is staggering. Call center
outsourcers, until recently, were the saviors of American jobs, filling
job shortages in ex-manufacturing and ex-military towns. The tide has
shifted overnight and we are now being targeted as the reason that
American jobs are disappearing.
As an industry, it is imperative that we come
together to discuss how we are portrayed in the media as well as how to
make sure the media understands this important topic better. It is
unacceptable to all of us and damaging to our livelihoods to see reporters
lump outsourcing and offshoring together as the same practice.
Furthermore, we need to be involved in the myriad legislative proposals
that are earmarked for passage in Congress and various state capitals that
will punish American companies hiring workers offshore. According to the
Journal, dozens of such bills are pending!
The single worldwide forum where call center
outsourcers worldwide may get together and discuss these and other crucial
issues is the Global Call Center
Outsourcing Summit (GCCOS for short), May 3-5 in St. Louis, Missouri.
This is a crucial year once again for our sector. If we dont meet and
discuss these issues face to face, we are likely to see that they will be
decided for us. We welcome your participation and Nadji Tehrani
and I are looking forward to meeting with the top management of all
outsourcing companies again like we have done for two decades at our
annual Top 50 and other awards dinners.
TMC and Customer
Inter@ction Solutions Magazine have been crucial resources,
ranking, advising and promoting call center outsourcers for nearly two
decades. We look forward to hosting you in
. Please visit www.tmcnet.com/gccos/
for more information or call 203-852-6800 x146.
Please talk back to me in
Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments.
Participate in our forums.
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