Although the recession canceled out the heady growth patterns and overly optimistic expectations, service revenues in the world call center industry is nevertheless forecast to recover poise in the medium-to-short term period to reach US$189.3 billion by the year 2015. Growth during this period will be driven by resurgence in business process outsourcing, especially in Asia, and corporate refocus on customer service investments.
Bleeding corporate balance sheets, falling demand in the face of financial crisis, tight liquidity and customer budgets, fall in service tariffs, enterprise skepticism over infrastructure investments, high levels of unemployment, have thrown growth in call centers services off-course. Revenues of several companies in developed nations took a hit due to reduced demand of products and services in major markets and loss of key sales contracts in 2009. Call center service revenues fell from grace as a result of companies throwing outsourcing plans on the backburner, renegotiating existing contracts at lower prices with existing service providers and postponement of contract extensions, and renewals. Recession induced contract renegotiations have especially dented revenues in the industry. The recessionary pressures also bifurcated large contracts deals into smaller contracts of lower values, with shorter turn-around times.
Smaller call center agencies in developing Asian countries that thrive on outsourced projects from the United States and Europe, have been the most brutally hurt with several of such agencies closing down and exiting the business. Adding to the existing challenges is increased regulations. A case-in-point is the US government's protectionist stand on outsourcing that is likely to make the business environment tougher for offshore, overseas smaller players based in developing countries. However, despite the US government's attempts at incentivizing MNCs to establish customer help desk within the domestic shores, the economic viability and compelling business imperatives of outsourcing are not likely to be quelled for long. Cost cutting has and will continue to be the name of the game, and outsourcing in this respect will continue to remain in the spotlight.
However, the recession is seen as unlikely to wield medium to long-term impact on outsourcing primarily because although seemingly a paradoxical situation, the most spontaneous need to curtail costs in an unfavorable business environment is overridden with a simultaneous need to develop a platform for future growth. And outsourcing in this regard fits the bill given its cost advantages, and efficiency benefits offered. Although sinking sales have forced companies to temporarily cutback on customer service investments for an immediate short-term respite from the financial pressures, the strategy is believed to be just a knee-jerk reaction to the deepening economic woes. However, prolonged deeper cuts can raise the risk of loss of customers as fickle loyalty during challenging economic times leads to customers migrating to competitors who favor their patronage. Therefore, scaling back customer service budgets is a perilous, high-risk, high-wire act for companies, which can result in high customer churn rates, and dissolve brand equity, in the medium to long term.
With the recession now at its tail's end, and with the steady drumbeat of positive economic data putting economic recovery on the table as a possibility, the call center industry will witness an escalation in optimism. With US, and Europe following a "U" shaped recovery pattern, while Brazil, Russia, India and China, among other developing countries following a faster "V" shaped recovery pattern, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America will emerge to turbo-charge future growth in the call center industry worldwide, as stated by the new market research report. Post recession recovery and growth will be led by companies re-focusing on customer retention, new customer acquisition, and customer satisfaction ratings.
Behavioral changes in the post recession customer are expected to wield a strong influence on corporate customer service operations. As companies shift gears from cost cutting to revenue growth, spending on outsourcing, off shoring, and in-house call center operations are forecast to increase. The recession, interestingly, has made customers more demanding as their newfound austerity results in steady focus on performance to price and value for money bargains in all products and services purchased and availed. This reduced tolerance for products and brands that fall short in meeting expected standards in customer service will drive companies to re-build and upgrade contact centre operations. The post recession period will therefore bring to the fore the importance of customer service and contact centers as the last line of defense in retaining customers.
Major players in the marketplace include 24/7Customer, Acumen Telecomunicaciones, Alliance Data Systems, Inc., APAC Customer Services, Inc., ATOS Origin, S.A., Avaya Inc, BT Communications Ireland Limited, Convergys Corp Datamatics Global Services Limited, Entel Call Center, EXL Service Holdings, Inc., Genpact, IBM Daksh Business Process Services Pvt. Ltd, Inkfish Call Centers Limited, Merchants Limited, Plusoft Informatica, Quality Plus Callscan Australia Pty Ltd., Sitel, Stream Global Services Inc, Sykes Enterprises, Inc., Teleperformance, Touchbase, TRG Customer Solutions, Ventura, West Corporation, and Wipro Technologies.
The research report titled Call Centers: A Global Strategic Business Report provides a comprehensive review of market trends, issues, drivers, company profiles, mergers, acquisitions and other strategic industry activities. The single segment report provides market estimates and projections (in US$ Million) for major geographic markets including the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe (France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Russia, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Rest of Europe), Asia-Pacific (Australia, China, India, Philippines, Singapore and Rest of Asia-Pacific), Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America), and Rest of World.
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