Written by Gareth Pritchard CEO of BPeSA Western Cape
2012 is set to be another ground breaking year for the BPO industry”, with a number of major developments expected.
Mass uptake of social media
Over the past five years there has been a global shift towards social media engagement; this in turn has resulted in a number of companies incorporating social media into their customer communication strategies. Despite this movement, numerous large scale BPO operators have yet to fully optimise social media as a customer engagement tool.
Following on from this definite industry trend, 2012 should mark the end of traditional call centre with the contact centre becoming the accepted norm. This will result in voice no longer dominating customer service, but rather forming part of a bigger service offering.
The future of customer service will be integration, with voice, email, instant messaging and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + all working together to serve as a holistic communication channel.
Unstable economy will increase outsourcing demand
A second global recession will drive the growth of the BPO sector in 2012 as businesses look at innovative ways to cut costs, without sacrificing on quality.
In a recent survey by industry experts Horses for Sources, 25% of organisations stated that they would be more likely to outsource on the back of the second recession. With outsourcing now seen as a tried and tested model, companies in times of economic woe will look to BPO as a way to reduce operational costs.
With increasing pressure on senior management to improve productivity whilst still cutting costs, BPO enables organisations to focus on improving core competencies, while secondary functions such as customer service are outsourced.
Pressure to keep offshore jobs onshore
On the back of another recession, worldwide unemployment levels have not shown any real signs of improvement placing further pressure on company’s offshoring their customer service. This is particularly evident in the US where a proposed bill is being discussed that would punish American companies for sending their customer call centres overseas. If this becomes law, it will have a huge impact on the Indian and Philippine BPO markets, both of which rely heavily on the US for both voice and back office services.
The proposed legislation is currently being driven by Republican Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union and would make companies that outsource their call centre work ineligible for guaranteed federal loans and grants for a period of five years.
Growth of the cloud
Cloud services for the contact centre will continue to grow in 2012 as organisations embrace the benefits and cost flexibility that comes with the technology. Cloud based solutions will also serve to level the technological playing fields as smaller operators will be able to access the latest technologies without the burden of high start-up costs.
India lose voice to rest of the world
We started to see this trend develop in 2011 with a number of UK companies moving their customer service voice operations back from Indian in favour of a quality onshore alternative. In a recessionary environment cutting costs is critical, but losing a customer is not negotiable, hence even in a recession, companies will be willing to spend money to keep their customer base. This will create opportunities for niche destinations like South Africa who are able to offer quality voice based solutions together with cultural affinity and similar time zone positioning.