The global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has enjoyed sustained growth for over two decades, driven primarily by Fortune 500 corporations. As an original pioneer of the offshore BPO industry, India was a natural choice for call centre outsourcing. With increased demand, call centres in India were early beneficiaries of companies looking to outsource call centre and back-office support for a fraction of onshore costs. India perfectly positioned itself in the early 1990s to meet this demand and continues to be a key player in the offshore call centre outsourcing market.
However, this market segment is evolving with a greater focus on Customer Experience (CX). “Despite growing competition, India still has some advantages in the call centre outsourcing market. It includes an enormous resource pool with one of the largest populations in the world. Another advantage is the education and skill level of its outsourcing workforce. And finally, the cost of outsourcing in India remains significantly lower than onshore costs,” says Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, a leading, mid-sized call centre outsourcing provider.
One of the primary drivers of the outsourcing industry in India is simply the size of the country’s population. India has an estimated 1.3 billion people, making it one of the most populous countries globally. This large population provides a vast resource pool for outsourcing call centre and back-office support. The clusters of people working in call centre jobs in India are concentrated in large cities. “To put the number of call centre agents in perspective, Mumbai is home to approximately one million call centre workers, with Bangalore and Chennai following closely behind. With the sheer volume of available resources needed for call centres in India, these locations are at an advantage over other geographies when competing for outsourced work,” says Ellspermann.
India is indisputably the world’s IT outsourcing hub. The country produces the highest number of college and university graduates globally. This unmatched availability of educated and skilled workers has provided call centres in India with an abundance of talent that has allowed the country to become a global leader in IT and BPO. “This bodes well for India as the focus for call centre outsourcing shifts to CX. As call centres utilise technologies such as AI and ML to enhance the CX, the need for a workforce with high-value skillsets becomes even more critical. In this sense, India is ahead of the curve, due to the quality of the country’s education system as well as the high degree of labour with MBAs, PhDs., IT, and engineering experience,” explains Ellspermann.
Cost is another key advantage that India has as call centres to migrate to more CX-focused services. Like most offshore outsourcing providers, India is significantly less expensive than onshore call centres. Most service buyers would likely save anywhere from 50-60%, depending on the vendor’s quality. “Cost, however, should not be the sole determining factor when outsourcing this important function. SMEs are increasingly shifting priorities from cost savings to CX implementation, as they have bought into the example set by companies like Amazon. And it is in this new market segment, India faces some competition from the Philippines,” says Ellspermann.
Thanks to its strong English-speaking workforce and close cultural ties to the US, the Philippines has emerged as the dominant leader in contact centre outsourcing in the last decade. “With customer experience being a natural outgrowth of traditional call centres, the Philippines is ideally positioned to command the lion’s share of the growing CX market,” explains Ellspermann. In the end, India is still a strong player in the call centre outsourcing market and will continue to be so as the industry shifts its focus to customer experience. “The country’s vast population and pool of skilled workers, combined with its low-cost labour, make call centres in India formidable contenders in the rapidly growing CX outsourcing market,” says Ellspermann.