Companies Embrace Outsourcers to Deal with COVID

The global contact center outsourcing services industry grew 15 percent between 2020 and 2021, thanks in large part to COVID-19 lockdowns and social distance requirements, according to Avasant, a global management consulting and advisory services company.

The pandemic made it difficult for companies to keep their contact centers operating at capacity, and outsourcing closed the gap, it said.

But, as companies look to move some of their operations to outsourcers, they should look carefully at potential partners, the consulting firm advises.

The first step is to recognize the changes that have come about in the past two years since the pandemic began. Among them, the company said, are customer expectations, and customer service is becoming omnichannel and cloud-based. Contact centers are also adopting hybrid work and using a contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) model to maintain business continuity and prepare for future disruption.

"The role of the contact center is changing fast, from being transactional to strategic, with more companies choosing an outcome-based approach," said Shwetank Saini, Avasant research leader. "Enterprises should choose a partner to reduce total cost of ownership, share the risks, and transform end-to-end customer service."

"With all the changes in technology, issues with security, and shortage of qualified staff, businesses and providers are being forced to transform their contact center services," said Sudip Roy, distinguished fellow at Avasant. "Those that are coping successfully are shifting to cloud and digital channels, more effectively managing talent, and adopting hybrid work models."

Avasant, in its "Contact Center Business Process Transformation 2021– 2022 RadarView" report, provided a number of other recommendations, including the following:

  • Businesses should accelerate the push toward contactless customer service and support. With customers preferring data-driven, personalized, and automated experiences, companies should invest in new digital channels and technologies and adopt an omnichannel customer service strategy for the long term. Digital customer service options, such as remote support, live chat, and do-it-yourself videos must be embraced, along with digital technologies like artificial intelligence, natural language processing, augmented and virtual reality, and cognitive, to improve customer metrics and service-level agreements.
  • Leverage cloud-based contact center software to support hybrid working mandates amid the ongoing pandemic. Remote delivery and work models, as well as a focus on stronger data privacy and security, have become crucial. Companies need to move away from on-premises call center solutions and embrace cloud-based contact center solutions for increased scalability, flexibility, and cost savings.
  • Providers must embrace digital technologies and optimize processes to remain competitive. Contact center service providers must redesign internal processes, strengthen partnerships, and co-innovate to revamp customer engagement models and move toward a digital-first approach. Service providers should become orchestrators for digital transformation, infusing new technologies into the contact center ecosystem, providing integration with other enterprises systems, and breaking down silos between customer service and other parts of an organization.

Avasant evaluated 34 providers using three dimensions: practice maturity, domain ecosystem, and investments and innovation. Of them, it recognized 23 who brought the most value to the market over the past 12 months.

  • It named Alorica, Concentrix, Sitel Group, Teleperformance, TELUS, TTEC, and Webhelp as leaders.
  • It named Atento, Conduent, HGS, Majorel, Sutherland, and Tech Mahindra as innovators.
  • It named EXL, Genpact, Startek, Transcom, VXI, and Wipro as disruptors.
  • It named CSS, Firstsource, Ibex, and WNS as challengers.