Human Resource Management

HRM Guide World HRM Guide USA HRM Guide UK About HRM Guide Student HRM Jobs/Careers HR Updates Facebook
HRM Guide Updates
Search all of HRM Guide

International Call Centre Study

July 25 2007 - A recent international study of nearly 2500 call centres has challenged many assumptions about management and employment practices in this sector. The Global Call Centre Report: International Perspectives on Management and Employment summarizes collaborative research by more than 40 academics in 17 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe.

The study found that the international call centre sector is complex and rapidly changing. Call centres support customers across all sectors of industry offering a wide range of services as diverse as assistance with use of products, credit card activation and medical information. They are a major source of employment and job creation, but also have high turnover rates leading to lower service quality. Cost pressures continue to shape management practices, but alternative strategies and innovations are emerging. The report argues that employers and public policy makers will need to consider what changes are necessary to ensure the sustainability of this sector and its role in global economic development.

Other key findings include:

  • Call centres have some characteristics in common especially in relation to market scope, service provision and organizational features emphasizing standardization and cost minimization. However, there is little evidence of convergence towards a "global call centre model".
  • With the exception of India, most call centres serve domestic consumers. They tend to reflect the legal framework, customs and norms of labour market institutions and the business environment in their respective countries.
  • There is considerable variation in work design and job quality, human resource practices including training and performance management, and collective bargaining structures.
  • Wherever located, most centres have been established within the last five to 10 years, refuting the notion that they are redistributing employment from industrialized to emerging economies.
  • Two-thirds are in-house centres serving the organization's own customers. The remaining third are outsourced and operated by subcontractors. In-house centres in all countries studied tend to be small and targeted. They have lower turnover rates and higher quality employment, make more extensive use of team work, and have a greater proportion of full-time permanent employees. Subcontracted mass market operations tend to offer more standardized jobs with lower skills and pay, higher performance monitoring, greater use of part-time staff, and lower union representation.
  • Alternative business strategies help to explain differences within countries. Centres that target a specific customer group can design sophisticated management and employment systems to meet more complex needs.
  • Staff turnover rates and costs are generally high. For example, annual turnover in the United States ranges from 25 per cent to over 50 per cent, depending on the sector. Replacing one worker costs the equivalent of between three and four months average pay.
  • Overall, more than 50 per cent of centres have some form of collective representation. In coordinated European economies, the majority are covered by union and works council representation. Consultation and negotiation over work design and human resource practices tends to result in better quality jobs, lower turnover, and lower wage dispersion. However, call centres in coordinated countries also make greater use of subcontracting and part-time contracts to maximize flexibility. The report cautions this may be a means of circumventing labour market regulations.

Lead author Rosemary Batt, the Alice H. Cook Professor of Women and Work and professor of human resource studies at Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations School concluded:

"Consumers want good service, and they typically express the lowest levels of satisfaction with call centres. But companies continue to shift more of their customer interactions to call centres because they are very cost efficient. Studies like this provide empirical evidence of the kinds of management practices that produce lower turnover rates and better quality jobs. The findings in this report are consistent with others I have done. There is growing evidence that centres that invest in the skills of the workforce and provide discretion to solve customer problems have lower turnover, better service quality and higher revenues."

  HR Books on Ebay UK
  HR Books on Ebay USA
  HR Books on Ebay Canada
  HR Books on Ebay Australia
  Business Books on Amazon UK
  Business Books on Amazon US
  Business Books on Amazon Canada

Successful Onboarding

Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen
  Fact: 1/3rd of all external hires are no longer with the organization after 2 years. What can you do about it? In a word: onboarding.
  More information and prices from: - US dollars - Canadian dollars - British pounds - Euros - Euros

The HR Answer Book

The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals by Shawn A. Smith, Rebecca A. Mazin
  The HR Answer Book addresses 200 questions that every employer needs to deal with. Accessible and concise on-the-job companion.
  More information and prices from: - US dollars - Cdn dollars - UK pounds - Euros - Euros

HRM Guide makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

HR Directory
Privacy Policy

Anything But Work
British Isles
Psychology Articles
Job Skills
Copyright © 1997-2023 Alan Price and HRM Guide contributors. All rights reserved.