Despite years of heavy investment into technology and personnel, customer experience (CX) outsourcers in the EMEA region are now up against the familiar challenge of negative industry perception, along with uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the sector’s future.

These were some of the key takeaways from the morning presentations at CxOutsourcers, a new mindshare event that provides insights into the mind of BPO and contact center service buyers.

Held in the historic royal town of Windsor in the UK, the event attracted more than 50 industry representatives, senior executives, analysts, and journalists from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, creating a unique opportunity for leaders in the global outsourcing industry to learn from peers and experts.

Prioritizing Risk and CX Economics

Kicking off proceedings was Mike Havard, Director at Ember Group, who adeptly dissected the challenges that CX outsourcers face in the uncertain age of Brexit, the client-side implications of which are vast.

“Outsourcing is about mitigating risk, reducing cost, or improving quality, but with Brexit looming, everything is about risk right now,” explained Havard. “Against that backdrop, outsourcers need to amplify their position for accepting and embracing the opportunity to mitigate risk for the client community.”

Havard also stressed the need to understand and communicate the “economics of customer service” when dealing with board members, as the language of financial impact is the only way to educate these decision-makers on the vital importance of CX as a business priority.

Robust CX Budgets Meet Perception Challenges

Following Havard was industry veteran Peter Ryan, who presented exclusive findings from his 2019 Omnibus Survey. This annual report is a compilation of insights from around 500 strategic enterprise decision-makers around the world, providing a unique view of the buyer’s mind.

The survey found that in-house CRM budgets were more robust than ever, indicating new flexibility in terms of investment capacity for people and technology. However, almost 75% of respondents have a negative opinion of outsourcing services.

“Changing the perception is going to be a big challenge, so a major reset of the messaging around outsourcing needs to happen,” said Ryan. “Third-parties need to be more compelling and more disruptive to get a foot in the door, all while being fully aware that the clients have more money to spend.”

Transformation Agility to Meet Future Demands

Sharing his findings in a report called “Bridging the Artificial Reality”, Rob Allman from Dimension Data pointed out that CX has become a key strategic driver for many companies, underlying the need for outsourcers to be agile enough to respond to increasing demand.

“There is huge awareness of the need to transform, but legacy approaches are not being replaced by the new,” he said. “There is real pressure to develop as thought leaders, provide differentiation to clients, and not be overly attached to what made the company great in the early days.”

The study—which included 2,500 participants from 80 countries—found that the top six factors expected to reshape CX within the next five years were customer analytics, artificial intelligence, digital integration, mass personalization, robotic process automation, and workforce optimization

In order for outsourcers to prepare for these factors, Allman suggests looking at “appropriate automation” and prioritizing quality over quantity, while also making Big Data small and actionable and never compromising on CX, or underestimating its value.

Echoing the messages from Ryan and Havard, Allman shared his concerns over negative perception and dissatisfaction in the industry. “There’s a correlation between the companies that do not prioritize CX and those that are not satisfied with outsourcers, so the focus should be on working hard to educate and get total commitment from stakeholders.”

By the end of the morning, it was clear that the most important message for outsourcers was to take new action toward improving industry perception or face the consequences.

BREAKING NEWS:

Omnibus Survey 2019 – Offshore location favorability. Top 5 global countries.

  1. Philippines
  2. India + South Africa
  3. Malaysia
  4. Egypt
  5. Morocco

“Outsourcers must be more compelling and disruptive to get a foot in the door, all while being fully aware that the clients have more money to spend.”

Peter Ryan