Indian offshore call centers 'not doomed'

Some companies are pulling customer services back to U.K., but investment in offshore markets is expected to continue.

Offshore call centers are expected to continue growing, despite the fact that some companies are bringing their customer care services back home.

Last week, Lloyds TSB became the latest British company to decide to reduce its use of Indian call centers. But earlier this week, Barclaycard announced that it is moving more work to Mumbai, and Datamonitor contact center outsourcing analyst Peter Ryan said it is shortsighted to predict the end of customer service outsourcing.

Investment in offshore markets will continue for some time, as companies attempt to capitalize on lower costs and high-quality client care, Ryan said, predicting that more industries "than ever before" will be looking to adopt outsourced customer services.

This year "will be one of the most challenging in contact center outsourcing's history," Ryan said.

Ryan said, however, that call center operations will have to invest in Web-chat, SMS and e-mail technologies if they want to attract new customers. They also must offer systems tailored to specific vertically integrated industries, he said.

Companies will be looking for suppliers that can satisfy demand from multiple contact channels rather than just voice, he added.

Datamonitor predicts that outsourcers will start to focus on higher-value services--such as business-to-employee care and technical support--that are likely to lead to higher revenues and profits over the long term.

Steve Ranger of reported from London.

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