When people reach a call center, they make assumptions about the agent and the agent’s location based on what they hear. While these assumptions may have a basis for truth, they also can gravely mislead their understanding of the transaction. Consider the following:
If the agent speaks with an accent, especially a foreign-sounding accent, the caller assumes the agent is working from another country. This may or may not be true. Conversely, if the agent has no discernable accent, the caller assumes the agent is working in the United States of America. This also may or may not be true.
There are plenty of accented agents working in US-based call centers. I know. I’ve talked with them. In fact, the most difficult to understand agent I ever encountered worked in California. Likewise, there are also professional agents with no readily discernable accents working offshore. The truth is there is no absolute connection between agent accent and location.
In a similar fashion when the agent’s voice is garbled, cuts out, or is muffled, callers assume the agent is far, far away, working in another country or the other side of the globe. With old analog technology, there was truth to this, but that distinction is no longer valid. VoIP (voice over internet protocol) provides the same quality whether across the room or across the sea. Poor quality voice connections are not a factor of location as much as a function of how robust the call center’s internet connection is and the condition of their infrastructure, which can be good or not so good in the US, as well as offshore.
If the agent volume is low, callers assume the call center is far away. In days long ago, this was often the case. Now, this is attributable to other factors. I recently told a Florida-based agent I was having trouble hearing her. She laughed, noting she had moved the microphone away from her mouth to cough and forgot to reposition it.
Callers assume calls handled quickly and effectively confirm a United States-based agent. If problems or delays occur, they assume it was an offshore agent. This outdated bias assumes US-born agents are better and offshore agents can’t be trained. Not only is this incorrect, but the opposite is often true. I have encountered some of the most patient, kind, and professional agents in offshore call centers, not in the US. Their training is impeccable and their customer service skills are unassailable.
Insisting on a US-based call center may end up costing more and providing less. Instead seek a call center with easy-to-understand agents who offer professional service in a conducive environment – regardless of where the center is located.
This will produce the best results at an affordable price.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry and who provides a call center matchmaking service, covering both onshore and offshore call centers. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.