• June 21, 2024
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Patriotism Aside, U.S. Operations Are a Good Idea

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Regular readers of this column know that I’ve been quite vocal about the plague of scam callers. I’ve written often about the fact that I receive dozens of scam calls every day—and based on the callers’ accents, most of them, apparently and unfortunately, are coming from call centers in India. The callers try to attain personal and account information by claiming to represent utilities, TV service providers, personal injury attorneys, healthcare insurance companies, financial services firms, credit card issuers, real estate firms, and government agencies like Medicare and the IRS.

For the criminal organizations behind these scams, the reasons for working with contact centers in India are many: low labor costs, a lax regulatory environment, and an overall inability or unwillingness by U.S. authorities to track the calls to their source and hold the responsible parties accountable. Some of these calls are blocked by the Robokiller app I have installed on my smartphone, but many others get through thanks to illegal robodialers and phone number spoofing technologies.

I certainly am not saying that all overseas contact centers, or contact centers based in India, are engaged in illegal activity. The vast majority of offshore contact centers are legitimate, and their leaders and agents truly want to do right by their clients. But, at the same time, the bad actors have damaged the reputation of all overseas contact centers, which might have something to do with the growing trend of U.S. companies moving their customer service operations back to U.S. shores. We highlight this trend in this month’s cover story, “Contact Centers See a New Focus on Onshoring.” 

In the article, we outline some of the motivations for companies to bring these jobs back to the United States, but more important, we lay out some of the crucial factors that companies must consider before making the move.

As a proud American, I encourage U.S. companies to open new facilities within U.S. borders or to increase headcount at existing U.S. facilities. I’d prefer to see contact center jobs for U.S. companies going to people in New Orleans rather than in New Delhi, to people in Baltimore rather than in Bangalore.

But there is really so much more to gain.

No one could say it better than King White, founder and CEO of Site Selection Group, a provider of advanced location analytics, economic incentive negotiations and compliance, and corporate real estate solutions: “The highest-quality work is done in the U.S., hands down,” he states in the article. “The service levels are better, and the skills are better. Customers are going to be happier when a U.S. agent is answering the phone.”

Dave Hoekstra, product evangelist at Calabrio, also shares this sentiment. “In the end, while right-shoring investments may appear costly at first, it pays off in terms of improved customer satisfaction, brand reputation, and overall operational efficiency,” he says.

When making the move, though, companies need to be aware of the regulatory environment where their facilities will be located. Though not yet a national priority, many state governments throughout the United States, including California, Virginia, Colorado, and Connecticut, have already enacted customer data protection and privacy legislation. Complying with these regulations is no easy feat, but we offer advice in our second feature, “Tips for Auditing Your Company’s Data Privacy and Security Protocols.” 

The article lays out the reasons for conducting these audits, what they should include, and how they should be carried out. The main take-away is that data governance, privacy, and security should not be ad hoc or siloed efforts or a one-time occurrence.

“The process has to be ongoing. Laws, technology, and threat actors continue to change and evolve,” attorney Peter Berk advises in the strongest terms possible throughout the article.

And then, those security protocols have to be rolled out to employees’ personal devices, following the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, as we discuss in our third feature, “BYOD Is More Manageable Today.” 

In that article, Richard Sterling, sales director of Certero Software, a software asset management solutions provider, strongly recommends “making sure you’re able to manage your devices and software everywhere and [that you have] a clearly communicated BYOD policy that prioritizes the business. If users want to use their own devices badly enough, they can agree to the policy.”

And that’s a good idea no matter where your company chooses to do business.

Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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