There is one business area in the middle of the turmoil of COVID-19 and the tremendous effect it has had on the global workforce, for which the pandemic could end up leaving a positive outcome.
This is the business process outsourcing (BPO) market, where the pandemic has drawn a distinct line between the old and the new for it.
“If you are a BPO provider that’s still in that business then you’re in trouble. But if you are in the transformational BPO business, where you are bringing in innovative tools and technology, and you are adapting to new ways of working, then the future’s definitely very bright,” says Punit Bhatia, partner, GBS and BPO Advisory at consultancy Deloitte.
Meanwhile, Sudhir Agarwal, founder, and CEO of Singapore-based BPO firm Everise says the pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst of rapid transformation for all industries including the traditional BPO model. He further adds digital fluency, along with business flexibility and agility are required to help organizations respond effectively to the ongoing uncertainty.
Generally, the sector’s operations have been built around huge, single-location campuses, some housing in excess of 20,000 workers. Hence, it has been difficult to transition these workforces into home environments while still maintaining business continuity.
More Than Just Cloud Investment
In response to technological developments, global IT/ITES/BPO companies are steadily extending their service lines and creating new business models. The BPO industry, in particular, is expanding around mega technological developments such as big data, mobility, and cloud computing.
However, customer experience resilience demands more than just cloud technology investment to power a remote workforce. Agarwal says “This requires a shift in who you hire and building a culture that facilitates connection, even while people are apart.”
Additionally, he says the shift to remote work has had the result of diverting focus from hiring based on demographics to that of psychographics, which is defined as an individual’s preferences and aspirations – traits more difficult to quantify than demographics, but which are suddenly more important.
Delivering Consistent Experience Without Extra Cost
On the other hand, uncertain market conditions mean unpredictable customer contact volumes. Using AI-powered technology to help with self-service functions includes the efficient delivery of a consistent experience without overstaffing or overburdening agents.
“For example, one of Everise’s partners experienced a rapid 180% volume increase in calls and chat. Because we had our Conversational IVR and chatbot solution in place, Everise was able to contain and automate a large portion of the incoming volume, increasing agent efficiency in the process,” says Agarwal.
When engaging with a brand, consumers trust a rapid, productive, and personalized experience. In building the experience and in turn, confidence and loyalty, BPO will play a key role. In order to fully harness the benefits, however, it is necessary to create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) within the organization that offers standards of best practice for these functions.
The greatest challenge for businesses is to create a differentiating factor in a competitive market, but a company can only be set apart by customer experience. BPO will help companies refine and strengthen their journey with customer experience, forging the path to sustainable and successful business growth.