Romania is a Good Choice For Multilingual Call Centers

When people think of reasons to choose offshore outsourcing, reduced price is usually at the top of the list. But for many companies, the biggest driver for choosing an offshore call center location is the increasingly global nature of business. Global businesses require consolidated call center operations — they save money, deliver tremendous efficiency in transfer of knowledge in complex projects, ease ongoing change management processes, provide consistent service levels, and present better data analytics and integrated reporting. The key, of course, is that consolidated help desks must offer support in multiple languages. When we looked for a location to establish our first offshore location, we considered India, but chose Romania — a nation that offers both the basic foundation required for any successful call center facility with the added advantage of a multilingual population.Romania offers a talented, well-educated workforce fluent in multiple languages; a superior telecommunications infrastructure; a stable government; standard-hours time-zone coverage for European-based customers; and a significantly lower cost of living. While the costs for delivering support via our new Romania center are competitive with offshore locations such as India and China, Romania offers many additional benefits to our global customers. As the country continues to grow, it is a good choice for call centers that interact with a global clientele.

Education And Language in Romania

Romania has a rich and high-quality education system featuring more than 180 universities, including state-owned and newer private universities. The Romanian population has access to state universities free of charge, which insures a highly educated workforce. The private universities emphasize technical skills, and have invested in computer and networking equipment and classes. Both settings offer free Internet access, which is a draw as few citizens have Internet access in their own homes.

In Romania, language instruction is a priority, with a minimum of two foreign languages taught starting in primary school. While the majority of students choose to learn English, French and German also are popular. The practice continues at the universities, where many courses are taught in English, French or German.

The country has multiple communities that speak other languages than Romanian as their primary language. Communities include Hungarian, German, and Moldavian speakers. While some citizens also speak Slavic-based languages such as Czech, Polish, and Russian, the base of Romanian language is Latin, a Romance language close in roots Western languages such as Italian and Spanish.

Even with an accent, Westerners tend to find it easier to understand a Romanian speaking English than an Indian speaking English. Still, we find that the population is extremely well versed in their languages of choice — we have stringent quality exams for all help-desk agents before they can provide telephone support to global customers, and find a high percentage of our Romanian agents are able to quickly meet our standards. Their variety of languages, dialects, and influences offers a distinct advantage to call centers with global clientele.

Romania has a large, skilled labor force that is eager to expand its employment options. Romanians are interested in jobs that will offer them international exposure and offer them chances to practice their language skills. While call center jobs are viewed as entry-level opportunities, young people are eager to participate in the global workforce and the global economy. A survey recently conducted by the Romanian government found that half of the country’s younger workers want to work abroad, and view experience with an international company as a valuable asset in achieving their goal. Many call centers fit that need, and offer both opportunities to practice and use language skills as well as opportunities to relocate to their employer’s centers in other countries.

The Infrastructure in Romania

Some of the factors we considered when we looked for a location for our green field call center operation were transportation, communications, and utilities. Romania offered clear advantages for us in all of these areas. For example, we discovered that we would have to bus and house workers from outlying areas to a call center in India, but were pleasantly surprised to find that we could build a center in Romania that was close enough to enable workers to use public transportation. The airports, roads, and bridges also were superior, which enables us to easily show the center to prospective customers.

The communications and utility infrastructure also proved superior to India, with Internet access, telephone lines, and electrical systems all fairly modern. The Romanians are eager to attract more business concerns from the West, and recognize that high-speed Internet and other technologies are important. They continue to invest in these areas as part of their program of reaching out to Western businesses.

The Economy And Business Climate in Romania

The fall of the oppressive Ceausescu regime brought about many changes for Romania, most notably its interest in reaching out beyond its borders to become part of the global business economy. Today, the Romanian business climate is open to investment from foreign companies. The most successful ventures require a physical presence in the country — local laws and regulations are constantly being revised, which requires investors to keep up with changes. However, commercial companies can become established in a variety of ways, including as wholly owned foreign enterprises or as joint ventures. Foreign companies can acquire Romanian concessions or leases, as well as purchase land and buildings.

Romania’s fast-growing economy offers a variety of incentives to businesses. For example, companies that establish information-technology oriented businesses pay reduced rates for payroll taxes. The country established this incentive in order to keep its trained workforce close to home.

The cost of living is dramatically lower than in most Western countries, which enables companies to establish call centers at approximately the same cost as in India. The business climate is increasingly stable, and the country has joined the European Union in 2007.

As we approach the third anniversary of establishing operations in Romania, it’s a good time to reflect on our decision. The benefits of Romania added up to a great solution for our company. We’re working with a government that is stable and that welcomes our business investment. We can rely on the telecommunications and transportation infrastructure. We can support United States and European offshore needs from one, blended location. And best of all, we have access to a highly educated and motivated workforce that speaks multiple languages fluently. We believe Romania will open the doors on Eastern Europe for many companies, and are proud to have been one of the first Western help desk facilities to invest in the country, its people, and its future.

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