As the customer experience (CX) is becoming increasingly critical in the contact center space, buyers and service providers must take a significant relook at their engagement model.
Indeed, changing market realities are calling out for greater:
- agility – to more effectively respond to changing buyer and process requirements
- innovation – to meet seamless and consistent CX expectations
- collaboration – to jointly work towards differentiated business and operational outcomes.
Over the past 12 months, Everest Group has had multiple conversations with contact center outsourcing (CCO) buyers and providers about what a more consultative, customer experience-oriented CCO engagement model might look like. Here’s our view:
What are some of the specific differences between the current and the envisioned engagement model? Let’s take a look.
Traditional model –Service providers have limited involvement in scoping requirements and shaping the desired outcomes. Thus, they are typically restricted in their RFP responses to mainly familiar core operational requirements and cost management issues.
New model – The new sales process aims to involve service providers earlier in the cycle through a collaborative solutioning phase, which can then shape an RFP that targets both operational gains and business objectives. This approach can lead to more targeted and impactful proposals that drive more value for the client beyond cost savings and core service level agreements (SLAs).
Traditional model – Delivering a seamless customer experience across multiple channels requires co-innovation between buyers and service providers. The present engagement model falls short of delivering this, as innovation conversations are limited to defined checkpoints rather than happening throughout the process.
New model – The new model will involve a formal innovation cycle that enables buyers to make forward-looking investments, and helps leverage the collective expertise of both parties for continuous innovation. This is an iterative operational process loop that takes into consideration current operations, development of various customer journey maps, identification of process gaps, and implementation of needed changes across people, process, and technology.
Traditional model – Although an increasing number of buyers expect their providers to proactively suggest out-of-the-box solutions that can directly impact their business, providers are often neither given the opportunity to, nor incentivized to, prescribe innovative solutions, due to the existing guideline-based RFP process.
New Model – The new model positions providers to develop a more holistic understanding of buyers’ overall CX challenges and opportunities, enabling them to better identify improvement opportunities. This, in turn, can lead to improved relationships and a rise in mutual trust, which ultimately leads to more productive, stable, and long-term partnerships.
Of course, the service providers with in-house consulting practices are better positioned than others to weather the disruption in the CCO industry. For example, Sutherland, Teleperformance, and Teletech have already displayed their intent to focus more on CX and move towards a more collaborative engagement with enterprise buyers.
To learn more about the evolving engagement model in the CCO industry, please read our recently released CCO Annual Report 2017: “Disruption is Here: The End of Contact Centers as We Know Them.” And, if you’ve initiated this journey towards the new engagement, or feel we are missing an important element in our view of this model, please email us directly at [email protected] and/or [email protected]
To enable the growing adoption of automation, CCO providers are offering more advanced analytics options to their clients. Investments in predictive and prescriptive analytics now make up more than half of all analytics investments.
Though comparatively low as a percent of the total, multi-region CCO contracts are on the rise as enterprises seek to consolidate their portfolios and ensure a consistent customer experience across regions.
As more Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) target additional geographies for growth, the number of multi-region contracts will continue to grow in the coming years.
Contact Center Outsourcing is becoming a key influencer of corporate customer experience strategies
Disruption in the contact center outsourcing (CCO) market is bringing an end to contact centers as we know them, according to Everest Group, a consulting and research firm focused on strategic IT, business services and sourcing. Recent Everest Group research suggests that the traditional approaches and scope of services that have defined CCO in the past are rapidly evolving into a new set of buyer expectations and service provider capabilities more appropriately considered customer experience services.
The key drivers of this evolution are:
- Evolving customer expectations – Digital-savvy customers are demanding service availability at their channel of choice, and they expect a fast and accurate resolution to their issues. Buyers seek service providers who can help them meet and exceed the expectations of digital-native customers.
- Changing buyer focus – Buyers are becoming more customer centric, with increasing focus on building a loyal customer base. Buyers expect service providers to participate in tailoring innovative customer experience solutions.
- Service provider challenges – Under pressure to deliver tangible business outcomes for their clients, service providers are seeking to make people and technology investments that will equip them to provide differentiated customer experiences.
“We see traditional CCO approaches evolving quite rapidly to those focused on delivering customer experience services,” said Katrina Menzigian, vice president at Everest Group. “This is apparent in the rise of consulting and co-innovation engagement models, the adoption of sophisticated digital services to enable omni-channel customer engagement, and pricing constructs based on tangible business outcomes.” Another insight from the study is that services such as customer analytics, customer retention management and performance management—which once were considered value-added services—were included in almost half of the CCO contracts in the past two years. In other words, buyers have come to expect them as core delivery capabilities because they are required to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
With buyers and service providers looking to redefine contact center relationships and focus on customer experience delivery, the CCO market witnessed a subdued growth rate of 3 percent in 2016 to reach US$78-80 billion. Contributing factors in the decline in growth rate include:
- Rising technology adoption – Use of analytics and automation has reduced human effort, requiring fewer FTEs for the same work
- Geopolitical factors – Buyer apprehension due to Brexit, US elections, etc. led to reduced buyer activity
- Growth of non-voice interactions – Though larger in volume, non-voice interactions have lower costs
As buyers and providers become more mature and come to terms with the disruptions, the market is expected to resume growth at 4-5 percent by 2020.
These findings and more are discussed in “Contact Center Outsourcing Annual Report 2017 – Disruption is Here: The End of Contact Centers as We Know Them.” This report provides an overview of the CCO market, including market size and adoption trends, value proposition and solution characteristics, and service provider landscape.
Other key findings:
- The global contact center spend stands at US$310-335, of which third-party outsourcing accounts for approximately 25 percent
- Multi-region contract signings continue to increase as buyers look to consolidate their service provider portfolio across regions
- The delivery model is leaning towards balanced shoring, as providers look to achieve optimum balance between onshore and offshore delivery
- Technology investments in predictive and prescriptive analytics have risen significantly in the last couple of years
- CCO specialists have witnessed flat growth in 2016. IT + BPO players grew at the maximum rate due to their investments in analytics and automation.
- Enabler technology comprised most of CCO-related investments, amounting to half of the total investments. Analytics, automation and multi-channel tools formed the bulk of enabler technology investments.
***Download complimentary report abstract here***
Is M&A required for growth in the hyper-competitive, increasingly digitalized contact center outsourcing (CCO) market, or are there still organic growth opportunities available to service providers?
This is a key question we pondered when developing our recently released annual CCO Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix Assessment 2017 report. Before we address that question, let’s first take a look at the numerous changes that are impacting the (CCO) space:
- Customers are demanding a seamless and consistent customer experience
- Disruptive technologies are continuously redefining customer and buyer expectations
- Buyers are shifting their focus towards better insights and increased agent performance
- There’s a movement towards fewer but more meaningful CCO relationships, including vendor consolidation.
To address these phenomena, service providers continue to rely on acquisitions to bolster their capabilities in order to remain relevant and grow. Some of the large-scale acquisitions in 2015-2016 included those of EGS by Alorica, Minacs by Concentrix, and GoExcellent by Webhelp. Each of these acquisitions were focused on multiple pillars of capability enhancement – expanding geographic reach and delivery footprint, deepening industry focus, and boosting next-gen technology capabilities.
The following exhibit highlights the nature of these multi-capability, and other single capability, acquisitions that took place in the last 12-18 months, and how they are positively impacting the provider’s short- and long-term growth.
In addition to M&A activity – which delivers varying degrees of short- and long-term growth – many service providers are increasing their investments in multiple next-gen technology solutions. While these moves result in stronger client relationships that do grow over time, they don’t drive immediate revenue growth; this is often because these very solutions are around lower price point non-voice and self-service offerings which, inherently, challenge the providers’ growth rates.
Given the degree of competitiveness in the CCO market, we believe that M&A will continue to remain intrinsic to the growth of service providers and their capability enhancement strategy. But, as the market evolves and the competitive consolidation wave troughs in the next 12-18, service providers need to prepare themselves for sustained organic growth in the digitally-enabled business environment.
And, circling back to the question with which we opened this blog…organic growth is indeed still possible. Some service providers, such as HCL, HGS, Sutherland Global Services, and WNS, are registering strong organic growth driven by focused internal investments over the last few years. But the way forward for all service providers is to bring together a blend of people, process, and technology changes in order to transform themselves as strategic partners able to support their clients’ quest to achieve best-in-class customer experience.
Here are Everest Group’s recommendations for CCO providers’ organic growth strategy:
- Move towards a consultative-led approach to engage with buyers as strategic partners, and understand key customer pain points and how to improve the customer experience through each one of them
- Evolve the client engagement model to a more agile and business outcome-oriented sales and solutioning model
- Invest beyond traditional enabler technologies such as analytics and multi-channel solutions, and focus on next-gen solutions such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence. If these capabilities cannot be built in-house, look at partnerships
- Redesign the agent talent model to achieve the right skill set by relooking at recruitment strategies and learning & development practices to ensure the agent of the future has domain and technology expertise.
The contact center services market is at an inflection point which is creating both challenges and opportunities for service providers. M&A has played a key role helping leading players counter market disruption, but is not a long-term growth path. They need to bring out changes in their outlook, and enhance their capabilities to position themselves as strategic partners for enterprises. How well and swiftly they manage these changes will determine, which providers win in the market, and which ones risk falling off the radar.
To learn more about the growth strategies the leading and contending CCO service providers are employing, please read our report, “CCO Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix Assessment 2017.”
Vice President of Research Sarah Burnett will be a key speaker at the May 10 conference hosted by Professional Outsourcing Magazine and Teleperformance: Can Your Business Afford Excellence?
The contact centre industry is more sophisticated than ever at its best. Personalisation, automation, and a more problem-solving approach are combining to make a better customer journey possible for anyone making contact with your organisation.
The difficulty is that the pressure is on to get costs reduced. The national living wage, the apprenticeship levy and just getting the right people into the job cost money. Outsourcing bodies and the clients need to work out how to re-engineer customer contact operations, taking advantage of automation and low cost locations, to ensure every stakeholder, and particularly the customer, ends up with the right deal. This event will focus on discussing the potential solutions to today’s challenges.
May 10, 2017
The Mayfair Hotel
London, W1J 8LT
Sarah Burnett, Research Vice President, Everest Group
Chris Sood-Nicholls, Managing Director and Head of Global Services, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking
This is an invitation-only event
The topic of productivity differences in contact center locations has always been of interest to enterprises, GICs, and service providers. In the last few months, there has been a significant increase in firms’ interest in leveraging an integrated global delivery model across offshore, nearshore, and onshore locations for their contact center needs. In addition, the looming prospect of higher barriers to offshoring/nearshoring is also shifting focus from a labor arbitrage model to one of productivity gains.
Against this backdrop, Everest Group conducted targeted research to assess relative differences in contact center productivity across locations, using agent efficiency as a proxy for productivity.
Our research uncovered an interesting finding: while there are location-specific variations, agent productivity does not consistently vary by location category (i.e., onshore versus offshore/nearshore). While agent productivity is influenced by multiple factors, only two – average call handling time and agent utilization – are largely location-dependent. Even after normalizing for other factors such as nature of business, work mix, and scale of operations, there is no evidence to suggest that productivity is higher in onshore locations than in offshore/nearshore locations.
Exhibit 1: Assessment framework for agent productivity in contact centers
The reason that productivity variations are not location specific is that both average call handling time and agent utilization are, in turn, impacted by drivers that largely do not vary consistently across location category. For example, both scheduling efficiency and training effectiveness are influenced more by center-specific policies and work environment than location category. Thus, it’s the interplay of these and multiple other drivers, which often negate and counterbalance each other, that are the key contributors to productivity variations, not the locations themselves.
Exhibit 2: Variation in location-dependent factors that impact agent productivity in contact centers
These findings have some important implications for firms:
- It is important to focus more on internal levers to improve productivity within individual contact center operations. Factors such as call volume, business cyclicality, skillset availability, and the firm’s overall policies and practices influence productivity more than location-dependent factors
- Furthermore, global work placement decisions need to incorporate multiple factors beyond productivity, including delivery cost , talent scalability, business/client preferences, and business/operating risks
- Finally, it is important to recognize that no single metric is sufficient to fully capture productivity. Rather, a holistic assessment that incorporates both efficiency and effectiveness (quality) and both agent and technology-enabled metrics is required
For a detailed analysis of this topic, please see our viewpoint entitled “Are There Productivity Differences across Contact Center Locations?”