Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Five9 Introduces Two On-Demand Call Center Tools

The California-based, Five9, a provider of on-demand call center services, has introduced two call center packages designed for small businesses: The Five9 Call Center Suite, Small Business Edition and the Five9 Inbound Call Center, Small Business Edition.

According to Five 9, The Five9 Call Center Suite, Small Business Edition and Five9 Inbound Call Center, Small Business Edition are out-of-the-box tools that provide inbound and/or outbound call center functionality designed specifically for small teams that spend the majority of time on the phone as part of their daily activities.

The packages include four concurrent seat licenses, twelve phone lines, supervisor and administrator applications, as well as additional customer support and training features.

"The majority of small businesses don't think of themselves as being big enough to have a call center; however, when you speak to the owners of small businesses, they all have sales, collections and service departments. Five9's specially packaged on-demand call center offering for small businesses offers them the most affordable way to offer these business-critical capabilities," commented Brian Silverman, CEO of Five9.

"The comprehensive features in Five9's on-demand call center offering, can boost the bottom-line of a business by increasing customer contact, supporting employees who work remotely, and offering long distance rates of 50-85% lower than traditional rates, to name a few of the benefits."

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Call centres to be India's biggest job-maker

Call centres have become the largest job providers in India if you are to go by a survey conducted by the Employment Cell of India.

A leading daily in India also reported that the Rs 81,000-crore call centre industry including other IT-enabled services is expected to generate 20,00,000 jobs by 2008.
In the current scenario, where material goods are becoming more and more expensive, processes complex and products and services standardised, to achieve the optimal results, international call centres , mainly from America and the UK , are now moving towards India.
The daily said India boasts of having a large number of graduates and under-graduates with command over English. Apart from state-of-the-art-technology and cheap infrastructure in India, the call centres also look for adequately and effectively trained manpower which is the backbone of any successful call centre.

There are a few training institutes that are working in the respective field. One of them is Akiko Callnet. To show the remarkable study of the industry, Akiko Callnet has already launched a chain of training institutes (53 at present) across India to serve the industry with the right quality of people.

The institute offers international curriculum and international certification through its business partner Train Now (Montana, USA). The move will give the prospective candidates a fair chance to fight with the increasing problem of unemployment in the area.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

24/7 plans overseas buyout

Business process outsourcing service provider 24/7 Customer is planning to increase its headcount from 2,600 employees to 6,000 by the end of 2004.

The company is also hoping to complete an overseas acquisition over the next six months.

"Our expansion plans will be executed both through the organic and the inorganic route. We will set up new centres in the south and we also hope to complete an overseas acquisition over the next two quarters," said Shanmugam Nagarajan, chief operating officer of 24/7 Customer.

The company will recruit another 400 people by the end of the current fiscal, Shanmugam added.

24/7 Customer which has been a pure-play call centre so far, started offering non-voice support services and solutions this year.

The company is offering its BPO services in the banking and finance, insurance, logistics and telecommunications verticals.

The BPO activities are being carried out of 24/7's Bangalore center. It is also scouting for acquisitions to expand its presence in the overseas market.

24/7 will utilize the finance secured from Sequoia capital to fund its expansion and acquisition plans.

Last year Sequoia Capital picked up a 20 per cent stake in the company for $22 million. Sequoia Capital has invested in several IT and ITES companies like Cisco Systems, Apple Computer, Yahoo!

24/7 plans to continue its focus on being a south-based service provider. In its future expansion plans, though, the company has identified Pune as a possible destination for new centres. It currently operates two call centers in Bangalore and one in Hyderabad.

24/7 Customer ended the previous fiscal with a turnover of $30 million and currently services 15 clients in the US and the United Kingdom.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

What employees expect

A RECENT study by Hill and Associates, security and risk management consultants, on the attrition rate in the BPO sector, threw up some interesting insight.The study was conducted on targeted respondents that included the young population employed in the outsourcing business and with undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education and who had changed their job at least once in the past three years.

Key findings

The survey revealed that most people join a BPO to gain exposure to an international level work environment and the infrastructure that BPO provided.
Not for `quick money', a `luxurious lifestyle' at a young age and a `career' that requires no particular educational background.

Exits from BPO happen because of reasons like lack of growth avenues, expectation mismatch, dissatisfaction with organizational policies, and the quest for a better job profile.
Not night shifts, monotony of work and lack of salary hikes. Where the HR department took steps to deter exits such as giving salary hikes, promotions, shift changes and other incentives, it did not succeed completely.

The survey revealed that respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of better career growth opportunities and improved company policies.

The survey indicated that more than 60 per cent of the employees join a BPO after seeing job advertisements in newspapers or through manpower consultant references. The study found that the communication pattern of advertisements positioned the BPO job at a level much higher than its real delivery.

An overwhelming 75 per cent of the respondents were financially independent of their families.
Yet, a sizable section among them turned to their families for support if they felt the need to quit their jobs. This cushion provided by the social support system often drove the respondents to quit their jobs at the first hint of any inconvenience on the job.

The study says that the steps to manage attrition are not yielding the desired results because of the mismatch between the aspirations/expectations of the employees and the very nature of a BPO job.

It concludes that there is need for a higher degree of due diligence at the hiring stage.

At the hiring stage itself, companies need to make the prospective employee aware of what the job exactly entails and make an assessment of the potential response of the candidate in such job settings.

Source :

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Customer Service Outsourcing Market to Hit $12.2 Billion

The worldwide market for customer service outsourcing is set to grow from $8.4 billion in 2004 to $12.2 billion in 2007, but the offshore component will remain small, according to Gartner Inc.

In addition, Gartner found that:

*Through 2007, 80% of organizations that outsource customer service and support contact centers with the primary goal of reducing cost will fail.

*Up to 2008, 60% of organizations that outsource parts of the customer-facing process will encounter customer defections and hidden costs that outweigh any potential savings they derive from outsourcing.

Originally published in Direct Newsline

* Despite the hype surrounding offshore call centers, offshore customer service outsourcing only represents a tiny fraction of the market - less than 2% in 2005, increasing to less than 5% in 2007.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Telemarketing of insurance may be the next big thing

Regulators the world over are coming down hard on companies selling insurance through unsolicited phone calls, yet telephone retailing appears to have a bright future in insurance. According to management consultancy firm Watson Wyatt which specializes in the insurance business, direct marketing through telephones is turning out to be the third largest alternate channel for insurance companies.

“In the UK and Australia, telemarketing and the Internet are the dominant channel for distributing non-life insurance products. Telemarketing is already significant for some companies in Asia and there is rapidly growing interest in this channel,” said John O’Rorke managing director, distribution consulting practice, Watson Wyatt. According to Mr O’Rorke, companies are looking at in-bound customer calls to sell insurance in many markets. He added that companies would either run an advertising campaign inviting callers to phone in or they would attempt to cross-sell to customers who had called in with some other inquiry.

In countries such as Korea, telemarketing, as a channel, is the mainstay of distribution for personal lines. And today, the law in that country recognizes recorded acceptances. Telemarketing is not a new concept in insurance. It was introduced way back in 1984 by UK non-life insurer Direct Line, which was built around the concept that insurance could be profitably sold through telephone. In India, newly-formed Star Health and Allied Insurance has started selling its products through telemarketing.

For insurance companies, which have traditionally been selling their products through agents, any other sales channel is described as an alternate channel. Among the alternate channels, bancassurance is the most dominant followed by telemarketing. However, banks themselves are using telemarketing to sell to their customers.

According to R Krishnamurthy, MD (distribution consulting), Watson Wyatt, some of the banks in India that are entering insurance business are looking at combining their sales force with insurance arms to create telemarketing teams. Although there is a regulatory requirement that every individual who sells insurance needs to go through the 100 hours of training stipulated by IRDA, banks have made representation to ease this requirement for bank employees selling standard products, he said.

Banks are better placed to engage in telemarketing because of the quality of data they have, coupled with the relationship of trust. It is because of this that banks have been more successful than retailers and departmental stores who started out trying to sell through the shop-in-shop route, but are now engaging in to selling to their loyalty card base.

Among private insurers, there are four companies which have a telecom company within their groups. However, the quality of data possessed by telecom companies is not all that good. It is, therefore, not possible to achieve segmented selling. At the same time, most of the mobile owners in India are pre-paid subscribers, which makes billing difficult.

Source :

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Outsourcing not limited to call centers - NEDA

Call centers are at the forefront of the outsourcing industry and the business process outsourcing as the way to go for the highly educated workforce of the country, other big BPO firms are following suit.

National Economic Development Authority Director-General Romulo Neri revealed in a statement that companies like HP Global delivery Center, Manulife and Deutsche Knowledge Services and others are starting to enter and expand their operations in the country.

With the entry and expansion of the outsourcing firms, this means job for the educated workforce of the country. These companies are taking advantage of the language-proficient professionals in Information Communication Technology and finance in the country compared to other countries in Asia.

"We should indeed diversify our outsourcing work beyond call centers," Neri said.

In 2006, forecast from the Board of Investments, Business Process Association of the Philippines and the Commission on Information, Communication and Technology that outsourcing jobs will rise by 44 percent, revenues by 52 percent and investments by 42 percent. To date, around 233,000 are employed by outsourcing companies. In 2010 it is expected to reach to 1.2 million according to the forecast.

Based on a study by McKinsey Global Consultancy there are at least 120 outsourcing companies in the country today. The same study projected that by 2010 the revenues from BPO will reach to US$ 10 billion. While according to industry estimates, the country's revenues from BPO in 2006 will bring in US$ 3.8 billion, close to four times higher than in 2001 at US$1 billion. In 2001, the revenues from BPO amounted to US$ 349 million.

In this city alone, three call centers are starting their operation this year. Teleperformance, I/O Asia and Focus Communications are among the first three call centers to be put up in the city while others are signifying interest to invest in the city.

According to Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, chairman of the Bacolod IT Team, call center agents are not only the ones who are in demand but at the same time the other workers for BPO companies such as accountants, data encoders and software developers.

Neri added the country should aim to get 10 percent of the market for medical transcription. "Think of all the high-paying jobs that will provide our medical professionals," he said.

Reports said that in the United States there are 150,000 medical transcriptionists, which is below the requirement of 230,000, with the Philippines occupies just a one-percent share of the US market of US$ 12 billion.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Call Center Performance Management

Call Centers, or customer services receiving and transmitting multiple requests by telephone, were introduced as offshoots of telecommunications providing streamlined service for consumers of large companies with extensive customer support needs. Normally, a call center is able to handle a considerable volume of calls at the same time, i.e. to screen calls and forward them to skilled support staff, where most issues can be resolved. Organizations starting from mail-order catalog companies and telemarketing companies to computer product help desks use call centers. Typically, there are two types of calls ? inbound and outbound. The latter suggests the agent's calling potential customers with intentions to sell or service which is amply used in telemarketing. Apart from it inbound calls are made by the customer to get information or ask for help reporting malfunction of the product.

That's where the problem of management performance is acute. Performance measures and benchmarking are indispensable to any well-run call center to eliminate criticism of call centers on common themes such as non-expert operators, poor training of agents incapable to process customers' requests effectively, automated queuing systems resulting in long hold times, operators working from a script, etc. Benchmarking, typically associated with strategic management, presupposes evaluation of business processes in relation to best practice and helps to develop plans with the aim of increasing performance levels. At large benchmarking reforms all the levels of the company ? from the state of mind of the employees to that of top managers, penetrating into the whole hierarchical organization of the organization. The gist of benchmarking is to break the resistance to change by employing methods different from the currently used ones that might be less effective in order to increase certain aspects of performance.

The most conspicuous performance measures include the mean conversation time, or Average Talk Time (ATT), the time of delay a caller may experience waiting while queuing, the mean dealing time, or Average Handling Time (AHT), the number of calls (%) answered within the limited period, or Service Level (SL%), the number of calls per hour the operator handles, the number of calls (%) with the customer's problem completely resolved and others.

A variety of different technologies enables companies to measure and monitor the performance of the workers. The Balanced scorecard, introduced by R.S. Kaplan and D. Norton in 1992, is a concept for measuring a company's activities to make managers focus on the important performance metrics that lead to success. It's not only financial outcomes that are in focus, but the human issues that drive those outcomes. Thus, it is said to balance the financial perspective with customer, process and employee perspectives. Since the time of the original concept the scorecard metrics have been revisited by Kaplan & Norton with regard to more than a decade's experience.

Typically the following processes are on the move when the scorecard is implemented: translating the vision into operational goals, linking the vision to individual performance, business planning, learning and adjusting the strategy according to the feedback. To improve the performance of call centers one should know what metrics are best qualified. The right metrics should be performed on a call center to fulfill the scorecard.

The hallmark of a good call center is the staff's call management skills and that means interactive training can help achieve excellence at different levels ? for the agents, supervisors and managers. It is essential for managers to know how to recruit and train the staff to reach the strategic goals of the company, to manage the key metrics and consequently improve performance.

Different programs are designed to deliver training to call center teams. They might include practice, role-play, feedback and coaching. As keeping customers satisfied is a primary concern of any call center training courses feature quality programs which enhance the performance with respect to one of the most urgent demands ? training skillful professionals. It means they employ different training methods to evaluate current training processes and measure and improve training effectiveness. Fertile training leads to reinforcing the appropriate skills for performance improvement and achieving higher levels of customer loyalty.

Source : www.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Indian offshore call centers ‘not doomed’

Offshore call centers are expected to continue growing, despite the fact that some companies are bringing their customer care services back home.

Last week, Lloyds TSB became the latest British company to decide to reduce its use of Indian call centers. But earlier this week, Barclaycard announced that it is moving more work to Mumbai, and Datamonitor contact center outsourcing analyst Peter Ryan said it is shortsighted to predict the end of customer service outsourcing.

Investment in offshore markets will continue for some time, as companies attempt to capitalize on lower costs and high-quality client care, Ryan said, predicting that more industries “than ever before” will be looking to adopt outsourced customer services.

This year “will be one of the most challenging in contact center outsourcing’s history,” Ryan said.

Ryan said, however, that call center operations will have to invest in Web-chat, SMS and e-mail technologies if they want to attract new customers. They also must offer systems tailored to specific vertically integrated industries, he said.

Companies will be looking for suppliers that can satisfy demand from multiple contact channels rather than just voice, he added.

Datamonitor predicts that outsourcers will start to focus on higher-value services–such as business-to-employee care and technical support–that are likely to lead to higher revenues and profits over the long term.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Call Center Outsourcer Recognized by 2007 Global Services 100 List

Outsourcing customer service operations — or call center operations — is a practice that is in high demand. Companies have recognized the benefits that outsourcing can provide and the strong organizations in the field that can offer the right solutions.

Once such organization is Stream, a provider of technical support and customer service. The company was recognized last week as one of the 2007 Global Services 100 (GS100) list, which honors the world’s most innovative providers of business and technology services. This marks the second consecutive year Stream has made the list.

Compiled by Global Services magazine, the GS100 identifies leaders in 11 service-delivery areas spanning business process outsourcing, IT outsourcing, engineering and customer care. Stream was ranked in the top 10 of the GS100’s global call center listing for 2007. The company ranked first on this list last year.

“While it’s always exciting for our company to be recognized so publicly, our inclusion on the GS100 list — for the second year in a row — is a special honor,” said CEO Toni Portmann, in a Tuesday statement. “This recognition is a real affirmation of Stream’s global strategies, especially Smart Shore(SM), which continues to be a key differentiator for our company.”

Stream has made its name in the high-tech vertical markets of software, hardware, consumer electronics and Internet service providers. While still focusing on these areas today, Stream ensures its offerings are based on the company mission — to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Smart Shore(SM) is described by Portmann as a consultative approach to site selection based on a given client’s unique support needs. The company’s global infrastructure and locations enable Stream to determine the best mix of onshore, nearshore and offshore locations that will meet the support needs of a client. The company also evaluates need based on the product line, the customer set, the contact channels and the type of support required.

The GS100 supports Portmann’s emphasis on global sourcing methodologies. The report noted that a “critical differentiator among call centers is to have a network of global deliver centers.” The report also acknowledged that global service deliver options enable advanced call routing, time zone coverage and lowered risk through sound business continuity solutions.

Portmann added, “As a global company — and especially in our industry — global reach is about a lot more than dots on a map. Global reach is about flexibility, real choices, and tangible business value. These things are all necessary to get the right fit for the client’s needs, and most importantly, to deliver an exceptional customer experience.”

While we tend to look at customer service and call center options as one type of customer support, it actually encompasses many different types of provisions, none of which should be standardized for any industry or company as all needs are different, from the product to the customer.

Stream appears to understand that many options must be available to the customer in order to meet a specific need at a specific time, with the understanding that this need could change instantly. As long as Stream continues to offer flexible options to meet changing needs, the company will continue to thrive and be recognized for its efforts.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eight Rules For Improved Intraday Optimization

Are you prepared for last minute changes that are sure to occur with agent scheduling? This is a universal problem that all centers face. It can be especially challenging for those without an automated solution for agent scheduling and the ramifications can be significant. If staffing is just 2% below where it should be, the percentage of calls answered within 30 seconds or any other established performance objective typically will drop by 10%. If 10% of the seats are vacant, half of the center’s incoming calls will likely not be answered in the desired time interval.

There are two solutions to this problem. One is to implement an advanced workforce scheduling system that has a vacation planning module which will integrate with your workforce optimization program. The other is to implement a few simple strategies which can help simplify the process. Try these eight steps to ease the pain of last minute scheduling problems.

1. Inform agents of your intra-day policies
Informing agents in advance of what may be expected when call volumes exceed forecasts or the call center is otherwise in crisis can mitigate confusion and tension when last minute changes occur. If they know to expect adjustments in their schedules, they are more likely to be compliant.

2. Be prepared by reviewing schedules beforehand
Schedules can be affected by many different factors and staffing problems can be prevented by implementing a regular review process that will detect obvious shortages or surpluses ahead of time. Ideally, each daily schedule should be reviewed a week before and then a day before the live date. During peak seasons, it may be advisable to add a third look in the middle of the week. A quick check for deviations in agents required versus agents provided is all that is needed.

3. Establish trigger levels and tipping points
Establishing trigger levels can avoid last minute panic in intra-day scheduling. Use of historical data can reveal what conditions have led to scheduling problems in the past and help determine when you will hit a threshold that requires adjustments for current scheduling. You must determine the tipping point for key metrics such as percent over forecast. Defining your target numbers in advance will enable you to operate comfortably knowing adjustments will not be necessary unless you hit them. Most contact centers are capable of absorbing at least 5% more calls than anticipated and/or agent shrinkage of up to 10% before service levels start to plummet. Conversely, most can tolerate at least 5% fewer calls before needing to consider cutbacks in same-day staffing levels.

4. Create an intra-day forecast
As soon as you approach your trigger levels, use your workforce management software’s intra-day forecasting tools to assess the potential impact on the remainder of the day. Advanced systems will be able to provide forecasts at 15 and 30-minute intervals based on current call volume. They will also be able to calculate staffing surplus or shortage levels for each interval.

5. Decide what changes should be made
You will need to decide which shifts to designate for schedule adjustments. Should shifts be lengthened or shortened, can you cancel or add discretionary off-phone activities such as meetings and training sessions, and can employees who are scheduled later in the day be asked to arrive earlier? Generally speaking, it is advisable to reoptimize staff members who are already in the building. Start with the simplest options and see if they will produce the desired results.

6. Run a preliminary “what if” scenario
You will need to run a preliminary scenario to see how many changes would be required to align staffing with service objectives and review the results before proceeding further. If your workforce management system has a reoptimization utility, it will be integrated with relevant data such as call volume and real-time staff attendance. The system can then be preconfigured with rules providing new calculations which address overtime issues, meeting or training schedules, and lunch and break adjustments.

The system will then generate a new staffing plan to calculate the impact on service levels and deliver the results as the percentage of calls that will be answered within your target interval. Various scenarios can be run with different sets of parameters to help hit your target numbers.

7. Consider your options
It is now time to weigh changing the schedule against the results to be obtained. Many times the answer can be found in something as simple as canceling a scheduled meeting in order to free up enough agents to cover a shortfall without making any further adjustments. If the reoptimization process does not yield at least a 2 or 3% improvement in service levels, the end may not justify the means.

8. Notify agents of staffing changes that need to be made
The final step is to notify staff of schedule changes as quickly as possible. Some workforce management systems will automatically notify agents by email, pop-up or dashboard messages. Otherwise, supervisors must print and distribute new intra-day schedules, or talk to agents individually.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Benefits of Call Center Services

Call Center services are booming in most developing countries, all around the world. As a result of the competition, Call Center services require aid to carry on their profitable business. Call Center services help the center in reach maximum target.

A Call Center is a industry term referring to a company phone center that handles such services as help desk, customer support, lead generation, emergency response, and telephone answering service, inbound response and outbound telemarketing.

Normally if you make a set up for your clients to attend their quarries, it is very costly to prepare. For all of these you need to have specific technologies, particular department and excellent manpower. There is an option to get all of these under one roof and meet your all requirement and save your investment money which includes to build up infrastructure, Set up technology, implement particular department and hired specialist or specific staff. You easily hear about contact/call centers who do meet all above requirement and implement best resource and provide best service to be ahead in competition.

Call Center Services

Call Center services are booming in most developing countries, all around the world. As a result of the competition, Call Center services require aid to carry on their profitable business. Call Center services help the center in reach maximum target. The services help to tune quality programs to promote higher and steady levels of customer satisfaction. The services at these Call Centers include Operations, Customer Service, Tele calling, Backend, technical support, transactional processes etc.

Businesses who do not receive important phone calls put themselves at risk for losing profits. This most often occurs when a first time caller is looking to become a new customer. If an individual is calling a particular business to become a client it is likely that they may not call back if their call was not answered. For this reason there are many business owners who use a Call Center. Many times a Call Center will answer your calls as if they were one of your employees, take a message, and then forward that message on to you.

Few benefits of Call Center services for any company: -

· The benefits combined with developing company own call-handling center are truly incredible once them. Not only will company generate new clients, but also keep existing clients satisfied.

· One of the greatest benefits to having a Call Center services is that company clients will be able to speak to a person the first time that they call. Since everyone hates having to be placed on hold or told to call back, the use of a Call Center service could greatly increase the satisfaction of clients.

· Another benefit of having a Call Center Service for business is that it could increase the number and type of clients. There are many companies who do business with clients all around the world. Contempt a worldly connection, there are many established employees who only speak one language. Many Call Center service representatives are multilingual. They may be able to help new foreign clients. It is also possible to have a 24-hour Call Center service to support clients that are from different areas of the world and in different time zones.

· One of the major benefits of the on-demand Call Centers is the ability to provide any relevant equipment a Call Center operator might want thus reducing the cost of entry into potential lucrative markets.

· Make the most out of your investment and get a nice return by investing in your time wisely. Call Center services will hopefully free up more for you to focus on the work you like and take more time for marketing and advertising, to improve sales and projects.

· Inbound calls can be professionally answered using by agent intelligence and information can be easily given to callers.

· Answering machines or voice mail can be perceived as cold and impersonal. Live telephone answering services like inbound Call Centers give you a more professional image. Statistics show the percentage of hang-ups on answering machines is significantly greater than a live answering service.

· Some companies managed Call Center services based on the Cisco solution. IP-based customer interaction networks are enabling companies to measurably improve response time and increase customer satisfaction while at the same time reducing agent costs and improving network efficiency. (Vcare call center is an example of CISCO based/funded call center in India, which can able to meet your requirements)

The number of benefits of call center services is above-mentioned. Call Center services are more beneficial and profitable for all type of business.

If your clients are expanding faster than your business you may find that a call center is a professional solution to the problem.

Source :

Call Center Outsourcing Outsourcing Services