Offshore outsourcers are expected to steal one in fifteen call centre agent jobs in the US by 2008, according to forecasts by analyst group Datamonitor.
The firm says that offshore centres in Canada, Mexico, India and the Philippines stand to benefit most from the exodus as financial services firms and other industries move to cut costs by exporting jobs to cheaper locations.
The report estimates that one out of every 24 call centre agents, or 121,000 agent positions, serving US customers are currently outsourced to a near- or offshore bureau. This is expected to rise to one in 15, or 201,000 offshore jobs, within the next five years.
Labour accounts for the majority of outsourcers' overhead costs - nearly 66% of call centre costs, Datamonitor estimates. The lure of lower labour costs (often between 15-25% of those in the US), low agent turnover rates (as much as 10x lower than in the US), and access to higher educated English- and Spanish-speaking labour pools have led outsourcers to expand call centre operations outside the US.
The effect has been to slow growth in the domestic US outsourcing market, resulting in a mere 1.9% growth in US outsourced agent positions in 2002, which totaled 320,000 (11% of all US agent positions). Datamonitor expects this to climb a modest 40,000 to reach 360,000 in 2008 (12% of all US agent positions), when the total value for the US customer relationship outsourcing market will be worth almost $24 billion compared to the current $19 billion.