The need to contain costs, drive out agent inefficiencies, deliver high quality interactions for clients, and grow top-line revenues are among the biggest challenges facing customer care outsourcing firms in Latin America today. These key challenges must all be met while still achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction for clients.
Market dynamics and recent technical innovations bring new advances, functionality, complexity, and challenges to daily contact center operations. But the principal competitive challenge in Latin America still revolves around the need for flexibility and speed in implementing highly customized client solutions.
Many of these challenges were raised in the 2015 State of the Industry Survey by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), the results of which appeared in the latest issue of its Pulse magazine. Let’s review some of the key findings from the survey:
1) “Customers are outsourcing to gain flexibility, innovation and access to new technology”
No news is good news. We are not seeing any reference to the “cost” factor. At least, among the top three drivers for outsourcing, there is not any mention of it (of course, cost savings will always be a key driver for customers to outsource).
Increasing business flexibility was the customer’s number one reason for outsourcing in 2013 and 2014, according to the IAOP. The high focus on innovation and technology is also interesting (on a personal note, I believe the cloud computing trend is a big push behind both).
2) “As outsourcing has matured, companies have grown comfortable working with multiple providers to achieve these benefits and get best-of-breed capabilities. But buyers also want shorter, more flexible contracts and providers who are willing to invest with them and share the risks”
Barking dogs never bite. Loud and clear, your clients expect shorter and flexible contracts and want your company to invest in them while sharing the risks. The Latin America region will go through a disruptive moment in the 2015-2016 period as providers will start to differentiate themselves among those that are willing to invest and take the risk versus those who are not.
Pricing models are also changing (driven by technology updates and digitalization). Currently, the most common price structures used by outsourcers function per agent hour, per call, and per minute rates. Generally, the more price-sensitive the client, the smaller the unit of interaction measurement. Customers that elect to go with a per-call pricing structure also rank low on the price sensitivity scale. Based on a flat fee per call, this method of pricing enables agents to stay on a call without worrying about its length. This is where the focus is greatest on customer delight and maintaining high C-Sat and Net Promoter scores.
Clients are also stating very clear that they feel very comfortable on working with several providers at the same time, in order to get the most from everyone (as a matter of fact, according to the survey, multi-sourcing as an outsourcing approach increased by 75% from last year’s percentage (from 16% on 2013, to 28% on 2014)).
In other words, your outsourcing company will continually and increasingly be benchmarked against your competitors.
3) “Demand for sophisticated analytics, cloud solutions, and automation will grow exponentially in an increasingly digital and multi-channel world”
Actions speak louder than words. Frost & Sullivan is watching as traditional voice-centric call centers are morphing into “omni-channel” contact centers. The omni-channel consumer wants to be able to use all available channels simultaneously, including the (retail) in-store experience. As a result, BPO providers are challenged to deploy a complex blend of communications and collaboration technologies in order to stay relevant, competitive and profitable. The goal is to connect and communicate with the customer at the touch point of their choice.
Companies are employing multichannel analytics to capture, assess, improve, and shorten customer “journeys”, and the voice of the customer (VoC) to understand customer needs, and identifying root causes of product and support problems. Interactive analytics applications also help guide problem resolution.
Our recommendation for companies is to start small. As tools are added, such as speech analytics or customer surveys, start with those areas of critical importance, and then go back and test, run, refine, rerun, and gain an understanding of the impact that incremental changes can make. Of critical importance is developing a continuous improvement methodology whereby the actionable output from these tools drives improvements in and outside the contact center. The results can then be fed back to the different departments, and another round of analytics can be run after improvements are made, driving deeper or more incremental improvements.