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Outsource the President!

Outsoruce the President!
July 30, 2012
By: David L Butler, PhD
Executive Director, National Association of Call Centers

Well, not really. But the title is catchy. At the National Association of Call Centers and through the Call Center Research Laboratory at The University of Southern Mississippi we have been collecting data on the call center industry for over 10 years. This data includes call center openings, closings, expansions, contractions as well as a host of other data for the industry both domestically and internationally. Having data over time allows us to see trends which cannot be seen with data over just a few days, months or years. One such trend that shows up every four years is the influence of the US presidential campaign on the call center industry.  This is usually what happens.  Presidential candidates and/or the President will suggest that their competitor has sent US jobs overseas. In essence, they have “outsourced America.” The media picks up on this issue and call centers are often used as an example of jobs lost overseas.  Such attention makes many companies anxious. So about the second quarter of year during a presidential election cycle many call center decisions, especially related to reductions, closures or layoffs are postponed. Why? In a normal year, a layoff of 500 workers at a call center would not gather much attention other than that from the local news media.  In a presidential election year, this reduction of workers can become a national news item overnight and most companies do not want this negative national media attention. Better to wait until after November, or maybe even January, to make the change. The opposite is also true. If a call center is going to open or add workers, this positive news, normally only seen by people in a local market, now becomes national headline news. So a company can also get a boost from such expansions and usually time such activities to occur in September or October to gain the maximum positive media exposure.  In summary, every four years there is a weird skew in our data that is tied to the presidential campaign. Businesses do not choose to add or remove workers because of the election, instead they time their execution of their decision to either maximize the positive publicity for an expansion or minimize the scrutiny for a contraction. Enjoy the season!

Copyright © 2012 David L. Butler

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