We’ve been through the era of U.S. call center jobs being outsourced to India (and elsewhere) and now the pendulum has swung the other way. The jobs are coming back to America from the Asian subcontinent!
Domestic call center growth is up
Several years ago, The Washington Post reported that one of the big Indian companies had 9 call centers in the U.S. with 5,000 employees. Next up, they were looking to grow that headcount to 15,000 employees. The workers are almost exclusively Americans in these call centers.
It’s still true that many of the call centers remain in India, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, or some Caribbean island. But more and more, the economics of the industry necessitate repatriating the jobs.
Recently, the Detroit Free Press reported there are now 66,000 call centers in United States. Some 5 million Americans are employed as call center workers today.
The fact that wages have been bid up overseas is one big factor shaping the current economics of the industry. It’s actually more cost effective, in some instances, to bring those jobs back home. Plus, the desire of customers is to have those calls answered in the U.S.
Some companies are making a compromise of sorts. They’re bringing call centers to the U.S. to handle calls from their high-profitability index customers, while calls from unprofitable customers still go overseas.
I’ve talked in the past about the movie Outsourced, where an American call center manager was sent to India to oversee Indian workers and how culturally confusing it was for him. But The Washington Post article talked about the opposite happening.
The Indians were having a hard time understanding why, in the words of one person interviewed, we’re “spoiled and lazy.” They also don’t get the culture of dressing down for work, of which I’m the poster child!
So now you have the shoe going on the other foot: American workers are reporting to Indian managers in U.S. call centers!