While outsourcers are rightly looking for opportunities to consolidate their own market positioning, one that should be top of mind for providers in Canada is the French-speaking consumer segment, which is an important part of success in this national market.
Over the years, providing services in French has been part of many providers’ broader Canadian strategy, but forward-looking players will need to be creative if they are to succeed in growing their share of front-line services delivered to French-speaking Canada, looking to new business models as required.
Economic and Social Drivers
Recent census data speaks volumes to Canada’s linguistic make-up. In fact, with nearly one-quarter of citizens speaking French at home, enterprises remain mindful of ensuring Canada’s Francophone consumers are provided with service levels needed to drive exceptional customer experience.
This will be even more important in the coming months, as Quebec (Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province) continues to perform well economically. This success is translating into improving consumer and business confidence and lower unemployment in Quebec, and can be expected to drive more buying activity.
The onus will be on enterprises and their contact center providers to ensure loyalty among Quebec consumers through this positive economic wave by way of providing strong voice and non-voice interactions in French.
Leveraging the French Migration
Ongoing demographic shifts within Canada’s linguistic make-up also need to be considered, especially the movement of French-speakers to Western provinces, such as in Alberta over the past decade. This is notwithstanding the traditionally large Francophone communities found in Manitoba, the Maritimes, and Ontario.
When you consider these factors, it’s clear that top quality pan-Canadian French-language service capabilities are truly essential for enterprises in the current marketplace. The issue then becomes how can outsourcers distinguish themselves as the best providers of front-line services to French-speaking Canadians beyond traditional (and costly) domestic bricks-and-mortar delivery.
One option that has been used minimally to date in Canada is the virtual working model, which would leverage French-speaking agents working from home from across different parts of the country. The business benefits of home-based agents in terms of high customer service levels are well known, and would be eminently transferable in this context.
Utilizing More Nearshore Locations and Services
Another wise move for providers is to find additional locations from which quality French language services can be delivered into Canada.
One of the more intriguing options is Haiti, which is home to a population that is known for strong affinity to Canadian popular and commercial culture, as well as counting French as an official language. Geographically, Haiti is less than fours hours from Canada by plane and has an investment promotion agency (CFI Haiti) that has been aggressively positioning for BPO investment.
In my own research, we found that favorability toward Haiti as an offshore delivery point among Canadian enterprise contact center decision-makers was very strong.
Providers will also need to look at the specifics to determine what can help them better deliver services to Canadian French-speaking consumers. Delineating best practices to optimally service this segment of the Canadian population is important for any outsourcer competing in this market. Many providers have successfully done the same to carve out their positioning to service the burgeoning US Hispanic population. However, to distinguish against the competition in Canada using this strategy, interested providers need to get busy, as there is little time to waste.