Domestic or Offshore Agents: Who Are the Best for Your Voice Channel?
When a large number of American companies began offshoring their contact center support, few ever imagined they would one day reshore part (if not all) of their agent workforce. At the time, whopping cost reductions made it a convincing choice but, now that the honeymoon phase has ended (and the gap between onshore and offshore costs has shrunk), many of the same companies are rediscovering onshore contact centers. What’s bringing them back stateside? Three big improvements to ROI and brand alignment are influencing their decision to once again choose domestic contact center services.
Better Communication with Customers
Whether agents are fixing hotel reservations or selling insurance, consumers want them to grasp their wants and needs with as minimal effort as possible. In short, they want an effortless interaction, which in turn depends on the strength of an agent’s English comprehension and competency. Unfortunately, offshore programs run the gamut with their fluency levels, and can provide your customers with a lopsided experience from one interaction to the next – a shortcoming that impacts key customer service metrics ranging from First Call Resolution to CSAT.
Think of it this way: though offshore destinations may have an overall English proficiency rating (see the English Proficiency Index for a global breakdown), there’s still variation on an agent to agent basis. Depending on how well the offshore partner vets their workforce, you can go from skilled conversationalists to script readers in the same type of interaction. When the goal is to provide every customer with an extraordinary experience, this game of agent roulette is more than counterproductive.
The difference between an offshore and a domestic contact center agent is especially apparent in more complex interactions:
- Customer Service Escalations – As many as 40% of customers are more likely to seek out a real person on the phone for a complex issue. The responding agent needs to be fluent in English enough to grasp the subtly of the particular issue, de-escalate the situation, and react with an appropriate resolution. No matter how well-meaning an offshore agent, they can actually hurt your brand if they cannot understand the complexities of a customer’s issue.
- Over-the-Phone Sales – Though outbound and inbound sales support are more likely to have a script to use, domestic agents are far better at achieving sales numbers. Their superior command of English allows them to revise their sales approach on the fly, addressing pain points that have more traction with an individual customer.
- Conversational Interactions – Sometimes, your agents just need a personal touch. Domestic call center agents are better at speaking spontaneously about U.S. culture, whether it’s chatting about Super Bowl hopefuls or the latest blockbuster film. Plus, they’re more equipped to respond to the casual phrases or idioms that aren’t covered in English 101.
Responsiveness to Regulatory Compliance
There isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to data security regulations. In the eyes of regulatory agencies, your company is either compliant or noncompliant with a myriad of laws protecting customers’ data. There’s nothing ambiguous about it. And because threats to consumer data have increased and horror stories have made recent headlines, companies are more proactive than ever before about finding outsourced contact centers they can trust to protect their data and mitigate the risk of steep fines. Many of these companies realize the stark benefits of working with a partner headquartered onshore to keep their operations compliant.
Why are domestic based contact centers better at compliance? For starters, they are closer to the repercussions. Most adhere to contact center industry standards, especially PCI-DSS compliance, if they are taking payments. These standards help them comprehend the full impact of federal mandates and increases their likelihood of communicating regulatory impacts to their agents.
Additionally, there is a larger pool of legal experts onshore who understand the complexities of varying data security regulations, making it easier for domestic call centers to stay current with the latest legal updates. This is especially critical for two types of industry services:
- BFSI Customer Service Solutions – Whether protecting individual cardholder data across omnichannels or maintaining a secure network to prevent data breaches, your contact center partner needs to adhere to BFSI regulations. Top-tier domestic call centers have an advantage over offshore competitors because they have access to an agent and IT talent pool that is familiar with putting BFSI best practices and processes into place.
- Healthcare Customer Service Solutions – With the steep penalties related to HIPAA and Hi-Tech (they can range up to $50,000 per violation), your vendor needs to be an active participant in protecting your healthcare data. Onshore contact centers with HIPAA and healthcare experience are more accustomed to keeping healthcare data safe and secure.
Easier to Meet with and Train Staff
Many companies are finding that even though we can connect with agents halfway across the globe in an instant, proximity often still matters. When working with a domestic call center, there are a number of benefits to having part of your contact center team stateside:
- They’re Cheaper and Easier to Visit – When you want to tour an example of their outsourced facilities or stop by to conduct an on-site training or focus group, you are not stuck with the cost of an overseas flight. Plus, you can quickly fly to your onshore partner’s location without disrupting your entire schedule.
- Domestic Centers Operate on Your Hours – Though there is minor variation, you don’t have the multi-hour time zone differences that are a nightmare for coordinating meetings and trainings. Working with an onshore partner means that your agents will be alert and responsive as you are collaborating to improve the quality of your contact center’s service.
Want to learn more about the ROI of choosing domestic contact center services? Check out one of our latest case studies, “TLC Associates Turns Client’s Contact Center Into A Profit Center,” to see the complete benefits reshoring provides.