Contact Center Outsourcers Expanding U.S. Ties

U.S. companies increasingly prefer onshore or nearshore service delivery from their contact center service providers, and providers are responding by expanding their domestic capabilities and embracing digital technologies to enhance the customer experience, a report from Information Services Group has found.

The ISG Provider Lens Contact Center Customer Experience Services Quadrant Report, which evaluates providers serving the U.S. market, also shows enterprise buyers of contact center services now value customer experience over cost savings and view contact centers as competitive differentiators and revenue generators. They also want service providers to invest in digital technologies, such as automation and analytics, to improve customer service, engagement, and experience. Some also anticipate regulations that will favor onshore delivery as they make their provider choices.

Contact center service providers, for their part, are focused on developing their U.S. operations. The ISG report cites an uptick in the number of mergers and acquisitions in this space in recent years, including Alorica's acquisition of Expert Global Solutions (EGS) in 2016 and West's agent services business in 2015, as well as Teleperformance's acquisition of Aegis USA in 2014.

Technological advancements are rapidly expanding the contact center services market, as providers adopt omnichannel solutions to cater to customers, the report finds, noting that the volume of voice calls is decreasing while 30 percent of customer interactions now are being resolved through non-voice channels, such as chat. ISG expects this trend to accelerate, although voice will remain the channel of preference for handling complex issues.

The report also found automation is becoming the most important factor in contact center services outsourcing. Most basic-level queries now are being handled completely by virtual agents, or bots, and other automation techniques. Adoption of intelligent automation, powered by cognitive tools and artificial intelligence, while still nascent, will continue to increase, the report said.

Analytics will also play a significant role in bridging the gap between the contact center agent and the customer, with providers investing heavily in this technology, the report said.

"To meet customer demands and create new opportunities for engagement, enterprises are discovering they must enrich the entire customer experience journey with digital technology," said Esteban Herrera, partner and global head of ISG Research, in a statement. "They need to embrace omnichannel solutions to serve their customers at any time or in any place, on their terms, and analyze the information flowing through those channels to make the experience more personalized, predictive, and seamless. And they need to employ a combination of virtual and human agents to handle everything from simple queries to resolving complex issues. Enterprises will be left behind and lose competitive advantage if they don't embrace digital transformation."

The ISG report also found healthcare specialization among contact center providers is increasing. Acquisitions in this space, such as HGS's acquisition of Colibrium and Alorica's acquisition of EGS, are helping providers add industry specialists, such as nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals, and related technology to strengthen their capabilities in this vertical.

With contact centers prone to data breaches, security continues to be a top priority for clients as well, ISG noted. Providers, the report said, must continue to invest in holistic security options to protect customer data.