Call Center Jobs: Changing Work, Changing Workers

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Call center jobs are not just about information technology-enabled services. They are about the ability to see things differently or ''think outside of the box'' to blend technology with business to deliver significant benefits to customers.

The minute Alexander Graham Bell first said, ''Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,'' the telephone began to change our lives. Face-to-face business meetings and written correspondence took a backseat as businesses around the world recognized the potential of the telephone. Soon companies entered telemarketing by starting in-house telesales departments or outsourcing projects to call centers that specialized in making and receiving calls.

These days, low-cost communications and rising education have made it not only feasible but also advantageous for companies to move their telemarketing work around the globe in search of lower operating expenses. Consequently, a number of non-core functions, including call center support, payroll management, accounting, and human resources are increasingly being managed by countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Eastern Europe, which boast large populations of well-educated, English-speaking workers along with low labor and operational expenses.



This much-debated practice, known as strategic sourcing, is primarily an American phenomenon, with 80% of offshore call center jobs originating in the United States. Outsourcing non-core operations to contact centers not only makes astute business sense but also improves efficiency. By outsourcing back-office processes to developing countries, organizations can utilize the inexpensive labor and infrastructure facilities available in such locations.

When it comes to call center jobs, telesales executives are usually at the bottom rung of the ladder. But with some experience, there is no place to go but up. Above the telesales executives are team leaders and trainers. Trainers coach staff members on communication skills, selling techniques, and product knowledge; evaluate and monitor calls; and evenly distribute the workload. The team leader’s responsibility is to constantly motivate the telesales executives to sustain their energy levels and interest in spite of the high levels of rejection that cold calling can subject them to.

In larger call centers managers may manage as many as 10 team leaders. These managers assume responsibility for the center’s operations, including staffing, distributing calling hours, completing performance appraisals, gathering results data, and keeping track of completed contacts or sales per hour.

Conclusion

Over the next decade the number of call center jobs moved offshore is expected to double, and call center work is expected to become increasingly sophisticated. By outsourcing purely back-office operations, companies can concentrate on their core competencies while their non-core but tremendously valuable customer relationship issues are smoothly managed by the call center. Thus, call center job outsourcing is a strategic tool that can help companies make their businesses more dynamic and profitable.
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