A colleague sent me an article this week that I just had to share. It’s from Advertising Age, and titled “It’s Cool Again to be Made in America.” I found it very interesting to read that the cost competitiveness of places like China is quickly shrinking while American consumers are increasingly preferring to see an “American Made” sticker on the products they buy – because they know it will be higher quality. Even if the cost is slightly higher, they know “Made in America” means it will provide better satisfaction, a better return on their investment.
Domestic call center advantage
It has always been my thought that these same principles hold true in the ultra-competitive call center industry. Off-shore call centers – while costing less up-front – are simply unable to provide the same quality of service that domestic call centers provide. As the internet and automation has replaced much of the need for level I technical support such as password changes, more and more customer service calls deal with complex issues that require the representative to have a high degree of product knowledge and the ability to understand what the customer is saying. Yes, there is a language barrier that exists with off-shore centers that many consumers find frustrating, but it goes beyond that. Domestic call centers can provide agents that not only speak the same language as consumers, but also understand the cultural nuances of being an American. This allows agents to better connect with the caller, have empathy for their situation, create better customer experiences, solve a problem and ultimately build stronger relationships that will last well beyond that phone call and lead to additional sales, donations, volunteerism, etc. in the future.
But don’t just take my word for it. According to a 2008 study by CFI Group “when customer service representatives are perceived to speak clearly, they resolve customer issues 88 percent of the time.” When they do not speak clearly, “they resolve customer issues only 45 percent of the time.” The industry has come to realize this truth over the last few years, as reports of jobs coming back from overseas have become more and more prevalent. We also have seen the rise of Jobs4America, an initiative of call center organizations pledging to create jobs in the U.S. in the coming years. It would certainly be difficult for companies to make those pledges if there was a high demand for more inexpensive off-shore call center work from clients.
For tips on what to consider when selecting a call center partner, please click here.
I also think it’s important to note that there is nothing magic about domestic centers. To maximize their benefits, you always need to have outstanding people on the phones, comprehensive training and a commitment to IT and infrastructure, among other things. However, domestic call centers that have that commitment can provide the best return on investment for your call center dollar – just like consumers who buy American goods.
What does “Made in America” mean to you?