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US call centers now more cost efficient

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Many companies have put their call centers overseas to avoid the higher costs associated with placing a call center in the United States. However, a recent Baseline magazine report by Jeff Wissink suggested that more businesses would be wise to set up shop on U.S. shores because the pricing of such a move is more competitive than in recent years.

"Today, U.S.-based call centers - both internal within firms and U.S.-based outsourcing companies - are getting smarter about their own internal cost structures, blurring the once-obvious financial advantage of offshored customer care centers," Wissink explained. '"Homeshoring,' for example, is a maturing business model in which skilled onshore agents take customer service calls and web chats during specified times in their homes."

The Baseline writer suggested that having a call center in the United States is advantageous for several reasons. Organizations no longer have to employ agents that are relegated to any specific geography, thus increasing the talent pool in the process. Businesses that provide these employees will flexible schedules will have motivated workers. Also, rather than allocate funding for a brick-and-mortar call center, companies can lower operating costs by allowing agents to work from home.

Organizations still hesitant to onshore their call centers can do a small trial run by allocating between 5 and 10 percent of calls to the United States, according to Wissink. If the project is successful and customers are happy, businesses can increase the volume.

Modern call centers to benefit from unified communications

Several IT solutions are expected to influence how organizations establish their call centers. According to BizCommunity.com's Bennie Langenhoven, unified communications is such an option, especially for financial services firms.

"Not only does UC, when deployed across branches, bring enormous cost saving by utilizing free calls between branches, but it also increases productivity and efficiency by having one phone system providing full features across branches as if in the same building," Langenhoven explained.

The writer also noted that banks can lower their call center costs by employing remote agents, as well as improve customer service with the ability to redirect consumers to established experts who can communicate during the same call.

Langenhoven added that education, healthcare, government and retail establishments can also leverage unified communications to improve their IT infrastructure.