Has 2020 Killed The Traditional BPO Industry?

31st March 2021

When you think about the traditional Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) model it’s easy to just summarise it as a contact centre and the processes that sit around managing a customer service operation. Of course, this is a simplistic view on the modern customer journey, but even this simple view on managing customer service has been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. Is our traditional view on managing customer interactions now outdated?

To start, there is the sales process. Customer service specialists need to build a business-to-business (B2B) relationship. This has traditionally been a long, slow process involving a lot of travel and personal contact. All this has been changed by the pandemic, forcing B2B sales into a new digital reality that was unimaginable in 2019. Many believe the change is now permanent – B2B sales teams have seen how efficiently they can engage with clients and prospects remotely.

But across the industry there have been many dramatic changes. Contact centres are now really just a network of distributed agents all working from home. This has led to a change in resourcing – it’s possible to hire agents from anywhere, rather than expecting them to commute into the office each day. This has also led to the exploration of new commercial models, such as Gig CX.

Add all the emerging CX technology into the picture and we are no longer just talking about contact centres. A modern customer service operation will need expertise in data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Automation, and the ability to generate content that can improve customer self-service.

Can the traditional BPOs adapt to this new world? They managed an emergency response to the crisis in 2020, but now we are looking at a very different future. Most industry analysts believe that BPO is never going to return to the way that it worked in 2019, so can the specialists make these changes permanent and their service better than before?

Traditional contact centre specialists are facing a world in which Alexa, Siri, and Google will play an increasingly important role in answering customer questions. Intelligent chatbots can further assist customers who can’t find the information they need using search. Only the toughest problems are ever going to go to a modern contact centre agent.

So how do they embrace this new world of BPO? The smartest and best agents will not accept minimum wage. These need to be customer service specialists with a detailed product knowledge that is better than Google. Contact centre agents are no longer there to handle simple questions – they need to be experts.

Do the traditional BPOs recognise that this post-Covid business environment is actually a watershed? Will any business that is planning for a resilient customer service operation ever want to hire a BPO that bases thousands of agents in a contact centre the size of an aircraft hangar?

If you could design a post-Covid BPO then how would it look? Would it embrace Gig CX and home working? Would it embrace flexible hours? Would it embrace the hiring of specialists with deep knowledge of the products being supported? What would you prioritise if you could design the BPO of the future?

Davies Consulting has teamed up with the work-from-home specialists Sensee to create a virtual event that will attempt to answer these questions and explore whether the industry is moving on, or is still expecting a return to ‘normal.’

Watch our  webinar session in partnership with Sensee, ‘Has 2020 Killed The Traditional BPO Industry? And, if so, what’s coming next?’ – click here

Author: Mike Havard, Group Director, Davies Consulting
Email: Michael.Havard@davies-group.com

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