The current shortage of skilled labour in Indian call centres is negatively affecting the industry, with cost, quality and security issues threatening to slow the offshoring of call centres to India.
The warning comes from analyst Gartner, which says firms are already assessing alternative destinations to India for their business.
Gartner says the labour shortage is due to the growing demand for offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) resources. The shortage has caught offshore call centre service providers by surprise, particularly in India, said Gartner.
The Indian government estimates that the need for trained and qualified employees in call centres will reach 1m by 2009, with an expected shortfall of more than 260,000 workers.
Indian outsourcing association NASSCOM recently announced a trial for a national training and accreditation scheme for staff working in the business processing industry.
Gartner predicts that high Indian call centre staff attrition will occur as professionals switch companies to advance their careers or improve their salaries.
The analyst said a shortfall in qualified personnel will increase salaries overall and India’s low-wage advantage over other countries will be eroded.
Gartner added that service quality and security issues would also come to the fore if India’s call centre companies did not put training at the top of their agenda and enforce tight screening of new recruits.
India’s call centre industry has been the subject of a succession of media stings over the alleged dishonesty of some call centre staff.
The Sun newspaper’s investigation into the alleged sale of customers’ bank details by call centre staff received widespread coverage earlier this year, although no banks have made complaints about data thefts and no-one has been charged as a result.
Further media stings have emanated from Australia and Germany in recent weeks.
Gartner has advised organisations looking to outsource their business processes to Indian companies to inquire about attrition rates and security measures.
They should also ensure that service level agreements – including financial penalties, call monitoring and customer satisfaction surveys – are built into contracts, said Gartner.