Insights into the Indian call centre industry : can internal marketing help tackle high employee turnover?

Budhwar, Pawan S., Varma, Arup, Malhotra, Neeru and Mukherjee, Avinandan (2009) Insights into the Indian call centre industry : can internal marketing help tackle high employee turnover? Journal of Services Marketing, 23(5), pp. 351-362. ISSN (print) 0887-6045


Purpose – Increasing turnover of frontline staff in call centres is detrimental to the delivery of quality service to customers. This paper aims to present the context for the rapid growth of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in India, and to address a critical issue faced by call centre organisations in this sector – the high employee turnover. Design/methodology/approach – Following a triangulation approach, two separate empirical investigations are conducted to examine various aspects of high labour turnover rates in the call centre sector in India. Study one examines the research issue via 51 in-depth interviews in as many units. Study two reports results from a questionnaire survey with 204 frontline agents across 11 call centres regarding employee turnover. Findings – This research reveals a range of reasons – from monotonous work, stressful work environment, adverse working conditions, lack of career development opportunities; to better job opportunities elsewhere, which emerge as the key causes of increasing attrition rates in the Indian call centre industry. Research limitations/implications – The research suggests that there are several issues that need to be handled carefully by management of call centres in India to overcome the problem of increasing employee turnover, and that this also demands support from the Indian government. Originality/value – The contributions of this study untangle the issues underlying a key problem in the call centre industry, i.e. employee turnover in the Indian call centre industry context. Adopting an internal marketing approach, it provides useful information for both academics and practitioners and suggests internal marketing interventions, and avenues for future research to combat the problem of employee turnover.

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