According to the Economist, the end is in sight for the out-call and in-call centers. Time to move up the value chain.
Software robots are only going to become faster, cleverer and cheaper. Sarah Burnett of Everest, a research firm, predicts that the most basic jobs will vanish as a result. Call-centre workers will still be needed, not for repetitive tasks, but to coax customers into buying other products and services. That is a harder job, demanding better language skills. So automation might mean fewer jobs, or at least less growth, in India and the Philippines, but more jobs in America and Europe.
This might already be happening. Between 2013 and 2014 America’s share of global contact-centre employment rose slightly, from 19% to 21%, according to Everest. Outsourcing contracts that move work overseas have become rarer. Western banks are especially keen on repatriating work, says Arie Lewin of Duke University, an expert on outsourcing. That is partly because of America’s stringent but vague Dodd-Frank Act, which has made them paranoid about their suppliers’ activities.