A Survey of 270 Call Center Workers in India Examines the Impact of Experience and Assistive Technologies on Job Performance and Communication.
For many brands, call centers are the lifeblood of customer service. While tools like chatbots and email/text support have become more common, they are not a replacement for speaking live to a human for faster, more personalized problem resolution. But because most call centers are located outside the country of origin for a given business, hurdles with understanding grammar, accents, and cultural nuances can hinder communications between caller and agent.
In light of this, our short survey1 sought to identify the key challenges faced by call center agents and examine potential solutions to enhance their job performance. To this end, we conducted a survey that drew 270 call center workers based in India, to assess the potential utility of voice intelligibility technology in optimizing call quality and improving job performance.
In order to gain a deeper insight into the requirements of call center agents, a segmentation of respondents was undertaken, taking into account their level of tenure within the industry. The average tenure of a call center agent is around 22 months according to one survey. Additionally, the annual attrition rate among India-based call center agents ranges from 28% for in-house agents to 38% for external subcontractors. We obtained a diverse cross-section of survey participants, with a notable proportion of respondents having served as agents for over three years:
A significant proportion of surveyed agents reported consistently displaying a high level of comprehension when communicating with callers. As demonstrated by the data, the proficiency in understanding callers amongst agents appears to be positively correlated with the duration of their tenure in the field.
91% of respondents indicated that they feel they can consistently be easily understood by callers. Once again the results of the survey suggest that experience plays a key role in the ability to effectively communicate with clients: the ability to be easily understood is positively correlated with years of experience. In order to understand the results presented below, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of call center agents in India have less than three years of experience, as previously mentioned.
Given that a vast majority of respondents reported a high level of confidence in their ability to effectively communicate with callers, we wanted to explore their receptiveness to assistive technologies. Results indicate a decisive inclination towards the adoption of assistive technology aimed at improving voice and speech comprehension.
We closed by asking respondents about the benefits of better communication. The key findings from these responses suggest that better communication on the job can lead to several benefits, including: mitigated conflict, increased employee engagement, improved productivity, improved client relations, a healthy workplace culture, improved direction for employees, professional growth, and improved communication skills. Additionally, better communication can lead to better understanding of customers, strengthened team building, increased innovation, and better job satisfaction. Many respondents also noted that better communication leads to better customer service. Overall, effective workplace communication is seen as an essential aspect of an efficient and successful business.
We display responses using a word cloud, derived using BERT-embeddings and simple cosine similarity to extract keywords and key phrases:
We conducted a survey of 270 call center workers in India to identify the key challenges faced by call center agents and examine potential solutions to enhance their job performance. The results indicate that experience plays a key role in the ability to effectively communicate with clients, and that a majority of respondents are receptive to the adoption of assistive technology aimed at improving voice and speech comprehension. The survey also suggests that better communication can lead to a variety of benefits, including improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and employee job satisfaction and growth.
 The Call Center Survey was open for 62 days from 2022-11-10 to 2023-01-10. The survey is part of a collaboration between Meaning and Gradient Flow. See our Statement of Editorial Independence.
 Featured Image: Call Center Survey 2023 by Ben Lorica; assembled using images from Infogram and images generated using Stable Diffusion.