Posted On August 9th, 2013
During The 1990's, many companies looked to consolidate call centre activity on a pan-European basis. The ideal locations always seemed to be the smaller nations where it is essential to learn foreign languages and so the key destinations were Holland, Belgium & Ireland. To an extent, the offshore revolution which took many British call centres to Asia didn't really impact continental Western Europe. Some French & Spanish call centre is done in their former colonies in Africa & South America respectively but there is still strong demand for call centre activity to be done within Europe itself and of course, Europe's largest economy (Germany) was unable to move German speaking activity in significant numbers offshore. The rising cost of delivering contact centre services in Western European countries coupled with much of Central & Eastern Europe joining The European Union meant that a new trend in pan-European centres has emerged over the past 10 years.
This strong demand has led many countries to try to be the destination of choice within Europe. The key countries involved in this battle are Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, The Czech Republic & Romania. There are also relatively large call centre populations in some of the smaller countries such as Latvia, Lithuania & Estonia. Whenever a new market opens up, companies tend to opt for the lower risk locations as we have seen in India &The Philippines. As the market matures, companies move to what could be considered riskier options either in tier-2 cities or in less advanced countries. This thought-process meant that The Czech Republic was the initial beneficiary & then Poland. However, inflation started to creep into The Czech Republic and with Poland's graduates leaving in droves for other countries, countries started to look further afield and this is where Romania has come into its own.
Romania's checkered history is well documented but as a key member of both NATO &The European Union, countries started to look more positively at Romania. Romania's high level of white collar unemployment & low cost base meant that Romania was an ideal location. However, it's the language skills of its young workers which has allowed Romania to get into a league of its own. To truly understand the Romanian language ability, it's important to consider each language on its own merits. Firstly, migratory paths has led millions of Romanians to countries in Southern Europe predominantly Italy & Spain. The weakening economies in those 2 countries has forced many of these migrants to move back to Romania armed with their new language skills. Romania also has very strong historical and cultural links with France. Dating back to the 18th century, many of Romania's ruling classes sent their children to France to study. Not only did this lead to many Romanians speaking French as a genuine second language but also led to the modelling of many parts of legal and political systems on The French model. These links have continued over the years and this has led many Romanians to live and work in France and there is a large French speaking population across Romania. Germany also has very strong historical links with Romania with many Romanians of German ethnicity. In certain parts of the country, German is very widely spoken. Despite all of this, English is still the most commonly taught foreign language. As with all developing nations, the lure of American popular culture and the desire to travel are major reasons behind this. With all this combined, Romania is the prime location for any company wanting to service Europe's 5 largest economies. Romania is not without its challenges. The attractiveness of the BPO sector has inevitably led to many low-end outsourcers establishing themselves and these could have a negative impact on the country. Also, Romania is unable to compete on price with the larger call centre destinations in Asia. However, Romanian outsourcers are cheaper than their South African equivalents and also have much higher standards of education. The Romanian call centre outsourcing industry will continue to grow over the next 5 years as long as it manages to avoid excessive levels of inflation and a brain drain towards The West. If you need to find a call centre in Romania or anywhere in South East Europe, please use the form below.