The year 2022 was one of tough lessons.
As the world around the Nearshore shifts drastically, the region grows more popular as a destination for investment and as a source of top talent. All that change brings with itself new pressures which push the Nearshore towards transformation: the adoption of flex work as part of the standard delivery options; the climbing of quality standards; increased competition for talent and investment; the risk of staturation in popular locations; healthier doses of skepticism over English proficiency; concerns about Latin America’s political future; acceleration in training and education; the challenge of accurately scaling operations upwards; among many other things.
And yet, Nearshore outsourcing managed to thrive through 2022. The region has benefited from major shifts in the supply of business and software services globally, and it seems that the trend will continue –perhaps with greater force– for another year.
NSAM had the privilege of observing the changes brought on by 2022, as well as discussing them with some of the sharpest, best-informed minds in the BPO/ITO business. These conversations happened along seven webinars held through the year.
What follows is a brief recapitulation of those webinars, pinpointing what we learned from each.
How to Build a Sustainable Bilingual Team
Proper English is a base skill for any CX team working in the Nearshore. Unfortunately for voice vendors, finding the right group of agents is a more challenging task that it might seem.
In the first of NSAM’s 2022 webinars, Paul Thatche, VP of People at language certification firm Emmersion, shared his step-by-step approach to building bilingual teams, as well as the company’s experiences in the process.
From the use of AI-assisted tools for language evaluation skills, to the need of a strong cultural component and the insistence of ongoing training, this webinar turns English skills training from a simple process into a science.
Demand Drove M&A Activity in the Nearshore Market
The Nearshore mergers & acquisitions (M&A) landscape saw a lot of movement in 2022, with early signs becoming noticeable even from the first few months of the year.
To understand what to expect, NSAM hosted a webinar involving Matt Hasson (Managing Director and Partner at PALAZZO Investment Bankers), D.J. Edgerton (CEO and Founder of Zemoga) and Scott Spirit (Executive Director and CGO at S4 Capital), who provided deep insights into the drivers behind the acceleration of M&A’s seen in the months prior.
According to the trio of experts, skyrocketing demand and the need for talent were the major drivers behind M&A activity in the Nearshore. As companies try to catch up with the growing demand, they look to other companies that might compliment their current portfolio or that might provide a fast track to increase their headcount of talent with market-proven skills.
The E-commerce Boom Requires a Comparable Explosion in CX
You can’t have an explosion in e-commerce without a significant increase in the availability and quality of customer experience services.
While the post-COVID wave of digitization in most service-oriented industries is often paired with expectations for less human involvement with customers, the fact is that companies cannot do away with human-to-human interactions as part of their services portfolio.
With that point in mind, NSAM hosted a webinar which explored the impacts of COVID on the e-retail space, the influences of hyperconnectivity on customer behavior, the critical role of CX in this new landscape and what e-commerce companies can do to overcome the challenges that come with a new, more tech-oriented business.
In this case, expertise was provided by Cathy Jooste (CCO and USNS Director at Atento) and Carolyne Truelove, Head of Global Fan Experience at Fanatics.
AI Will Be a Powerful Tool for Customer Care
Artificial Intelligence is making inroads into all sorts of industries, improving processes and, when used creatively, changing the nature of the game altogether. Customer care is no exception.
Though it is estimated that over half of CX interactions have been automated, according to a 2020 study done by The Harris Poll, all of that investment into automation has yet to pay larger dividends.
CX experts Martha Berrio (General Manager at GSS Covisian Colombia), Stuart Beame (CEO of MainStreet CX Consulting) and Stephanie Todd (CEO and Founder of SoulCX) held a conversation on the (sometimes lost) potential of AI technology from the angle of customer care, how to use it to anticipate customer needs and how to add a human touch to automated interactions to provide a stronger experience.
Culture is a Defining Factor For Choice Among Employers and Employees
Though company culture has always been important for customer care vendors, it has grown even more relevant over the past couple years, even making ways into the checkboxes of potential employees.
While companies now use a finer comb when choosing between potential workers, those workers have begun to scrutinize their potential employers too, considering factors that go beyond wages and working hours. These include company culture and values, in which they expect to find a certain level of alignment with their own.
From how to manage company culture effectively, to the use of tools to measure and sustain workplace values, driving consistency in recruitment standards across outsourced teams and company culture as a main driver for new hires, this webinar –with Jeff Luttrell (Global VP of Talent Acquisition at Atento) as key speaker– explores the core issues behind the question of culture and hiring.
There Are Several CX Strategy Options to Reduce Costs
For many companies the world over, the defining crisis of 2022 was inflation. Operational costs kept rising, with wages representing a major burden for customer service providers.
Under the dark cloud of inflation, as well as the rising need for customer care, companies found themselves forced to consider different strategies to satisfy their CX needs: from in-house customer care to outsource models, both premium and standard, as well as onshore, offshore and Nearshore.
This webinar –focused on the expertise of Brandon Horton (Executive Director at Constellation Energy) and Bill Colton (CEO of Telesourcing)– explored those strategies, providing a comprehensive look at the options available in the market.
It also addressed paths to build a collaborative culture with CX partners, comparing in-house and partner KPIs and discussing strategies to maintain alignment between vendors and customers.
Though Increasingly Complicated, the Nearshore Labor Market is Still Manageable
For long, the Nearshore was the best kept secret in the world of IT sourcing. The region was known by a few as a place of untapped potential, filled with top-notch software engineers, developers and other talented IT workers, all of them willing to work for a fraction of the wages paid in the US, Canada and Europe.
Though far from the point of saturation, the Nearshore labor market for IT is growing crowded. Companies are waking up to the benefits of the region, increasing competition for the talent available, as well as the wages required to draw that talent.
NSAM’s final webinar for the year charted the current state of the IT labor marketplace in the Nearshore. Topics addressed included: understanding the role of staffing and recruiting agencies as partners; strategies to reduce churn; salary management; the roles most on demand; and considerations around where to set up operations in the Nearshore.
The key speakers for the event were: Rafael Perez (COO and Sales Director at NDS Cognitive Labs), Luis Derechin (Co-Founder at Nir-Yu) and Rohan Kulkarni (Chief Marketing Officer at Revelo).