Nearshore Americas

Ohio Set To Be New Hotspot for Call Center Firms

The US state of Ohio is fast turning out to be the new hotspot for the call center industry, with more and more global customer service firms moving back into onshore locations due to rising wages in the developing world.

Call center companies are now among Ohio’s largest job creators along with distribution warehouses, automakers and banks, according to the Associated Press,  which cites state records.

Qualfon, Sitel, StarTek, VXI Global Solutions and Alorica all are expanding domestically, says Jobs4america, which tracks the onshore contact center industry. Obamacare and the less-than-average salary for customer care agents seem to be the major drivers behind the expansion of call centers in Ohio.

StarTek Inc, which once talked of bringing jobs back to the US, opened a call center in downtown Hamilton last month. Barely weeks after its announcement, online retailer zulily Inc also announced plans to open a call center in Gahanna, Franklin County, creating about 900 jobs. StarTek says it will create about 700 new jobs.

According to REDI Cincinnati, the regional economic development agency, Barclays Services LLC has selected Southwest Ohio to open a new call center that could create approximately 1,500 new jobs by the end of 2018.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were more than 82,000 customer service representatives working in Ohio in May 2014, compared with nearly 78,000 in 2013.

About 10 years ago, India was the hotbed of the global call center industry. Two years ago, the Philippines overtook India to become the world’s contact center. However, overseas call centers have often been accused of poor service. As a result, many American businesses worried that they might hurt their brand image if they did not relocate their call center back to the US.

Nevertheless, the latest news does not necessarily indicate that the US is getting back the call centers it once lost to emerging countries, say some analysts.

The number of call centers swelled in the United States once President Obama kick-started his healthcare program. Soon after this new legislation came into force, health insurers and government organizations hired thousands of customer care personnel to answer countless patient questions regarding the new system. Over the past months, as many as 10,000 new customer service agents were hired to assist with information concerning the new healthcare regulations.

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The reason call center firms are choosing Ohio over other states seems to be because customer service representatives in Ohio earn an hourly wage of less than $16. Another reason why call centers are choosing Ohio is because the Midwest is known for its neutral dialect, say analysts.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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