By Lauren Irwin-Szostak / April 9, 2020
State governments, spurred on by the federal government, have effectively shut down business in America in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, throwing millions of Americans out of work and threatening the future existence of their jobs and their employers. This economic crisis demands a drastic response: a one-year moratorium on U.S. companies outsourcing to foreign countries jobs that can be performed, readily and efficiently, in this country.
I run a call center solutions management firm, Business Processes Redefined (BPR), which operates a network of U.S.-based call centers providing customer service and other communications solutions to our business clientele. Over twenty years ago, public and private entities began outsourcing their customer service needs to foreign call centers. Today, foreign call centers are prevalent and handle much of American companies’ communication needs. For example, in India there are over 250,000 call center jobs in Bangalore alone; in the Philippines there are over 700,000 such jobs.
American companies direct their customers’ calls to such faraway lands for one reason only: cheaper labor costs. As the chart below demonstrates, foreign call center employees earn a small fraction of what U.S. call center employees earn:
Country Average Monthly Wages U.S. Dollar Conversion
India 15,207 Indian Rupee $199.36
Philippines 17,000 Philippines Peso $336.60
Jamaica 45,000 Jamaican Dollar $325.80
South Africa 16,175 South African Rand $894.15
United States $2,375.00
This myopic, cost-driven approach ignores the increased customer dissatisfaction, regulatory noncompliance, and other problems commonly associated with foreign call centers. Indeed, almost 50 percent of companies surveyed in 2018 said their customer service operations are either totally or primarily cost-driven and have taken few steps towards upgrading their customers’ telephonic experience.
During the past five years, American companies have begun repatriating their call center functions to the United States as more and more customers have expressed their annoyance with having to convey their needs to foreign agents 10,000 miles away. And more recently, public and private entities have learned that domestic call centers can handle their bottlenecked communications due to the spike in calls triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. But more is needed.
Specifically, American companies need to display economic patriotism and stop sending jobs overseas. Too many businesses pretend to wrap themselves in the flag when promoting themselves to their U.S. customers, only to turn around and outsource their operational needs to foreign countries in lieu of hiring from that same customer base. In the last few weeks alone, an astounding number of Americans have lost their jobs, jobs which may never come back because their employers may shut down. Now more than ever, foreign outsourcing of American jobs must stop. What was once a patriotic, if not moral, imperative is now a nationwide economic imperative.
This imperative can, and must, be accomplished by the same governmental leaders who have effectively shut down business in America. Those leaders should immediately impose a one-year moratorium on U.S. companies outsourcing to foreign countries jobs that can be performed, readily and efficiently, in this country. The future of America, and Americans, demands nothing less.
Lauren Irwin-Szostak is the President of Business Processes Redefined, LLC, a call center solutions management firm headquartered in Fairfield, New Jersey which is certified as a woman-owned business enterprise by both the New Jersey Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (NJWBE) and the Woman’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
 www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/call-center-salary-SRCH_KO0,11.htm. And the median pay for U.S. customer service representatives is even higher; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 that median pay was $32,890 annually, or $2,741 monthly, for such workers with only a high school diploma.