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Help Desk Software - Offshoring
Locating call centers in third-world countries rather than in the U.S., a phenomenon known as offshoring, has been the trend in recent years, with companies exporting their call center operations to countries like India, the Philippines, Africa and Central America. There are a number of compelling reasons to do so - the primary one being a potential 20-50% savings in operating costs. In many cases, companies also report improved service from call centers in countries where jobs are scarce and steady work is at a premium.

However, there are a number of drawbacks to offshoring including time differences, extended travel times necessary to reach some locations, and differences in cultures, languages and practices. Site selection and hiring can present unique difficulties in countries where infrastructures are poor, bureaucracies are corrupt, politics are unstable, and travel is unsafe. Offshore nations oftentimes do not have the same data safeguards in place as the U.S., which complicates information handling protocols. At the same time, U.S. laws like HIPAA require that data must be safeguarded, no matter where it is being processed. The company that is responsible may be held liable under those guidelines, even if the data breach occurred in another country.

In addition, the honeymoon may be over between some American companies and their offshore employees in some parts of the world. For example, many such centers have been located in India for the past several years. While it is estimated that there is no shortage of potential labor in India for the next three to five years, some labor problems are developing. Most Indian agents are reportedly college educated, ambitious, and lured to call center jobs by high salaries. However, they have also discovered that call centers offer few opportunities for career growth and advancement, thus reducing the status factor for call center jobs. Those Indians who work in call centers refer to it as business process or IT outsourcing.

However, there may still be benefits that companies can realize using a combination of approaches that include offshoring of some call center functions. Some experts have predicted that, while countries like India may not be suitable for higher end voice services, they remain ideal for back office data entry, email and chat services. The kinds of services that depend primarily on software operation, rather than conversation, are still viable for U.S. companies to perform offshore.

It is the type of client that essentially determines whether offshoring will be a successful venture or not. If a companys clients are high-end customers who require confidentiality, offshoring may not be the best solution for the companys outsourcing needs. On the other hand, lower level funcions that do not require oral interactions or only some basic oral interactions, still may realize cost benefits through offshoring.

The best strategy for many companies may be a blend of onshoring and offshoring that provides the best of both worlds. If all sensitive data is kept onshore in a secure server, offshore operators may be able to view it on their screens, but not download it and transmissions can be encrypted for security purposes. Some functions can thus be provided offshore, while government regulations regarding privacy and security are not violated.

For many companies, however, offshoring provides a cost effective and efficient alternative to existing domestic operations. This is particularly true for large companies that stretch across several different countries.

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