Industry Commentary

BPO Hidden Offshore Gems Part 2 – Pristina

By January 20, 2021February 14th, 2024No Comments

This is the second part of a blog series focusing on hidden offshore outsourcing delivery gems by Ryan Strategic Advisory. It analyzes Pristina, in Kosovo. 

CX leaders and their clients are actively hunting for European nearshore alternatives to the region’s mature—and often saturated—delivery points.  Luckily, there are options, and indeed a number are credible new BPO destinations.  Pristina in Kosovo is among the most interesting, attracting third-party investors anxious to leverage the city’s vibrancy, ever-improving commercial climate, and niche language skills.

Looking back in time, CX delivery in Europe’s nearshore was traditionally serviced from Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.  However, the contact center hubs in these Central European mainstays have over time become heavily invested with outsourcers, necessitating a re-think in where to locate new facilities.  A bevy of alternatives that would have been unlikely BPO candidates a decade ago has emerged.  Witness the rise of Pristina, with forward-looking BPO providers already finding a path to make this city a CX nearshore center of excellence.

Admittedly, Pristina is not the largest European nearshore city for CX operations.  Some recent estimates place its population around 200,000 inhabitants. This makes it decidedly less scalable than centers such as Bucharest, Warsaw or Sofia.  That said, a smaller population is not necessarily a drawback, and in the case of Pristina so far it has provided BPO operators with sufficient volumes.  This means drawing on the city’s youthful demographic in a sustainable manner.

It is this young population that truly makes Pristina attractive for BPOs. More than 50% of the city’s residents are 35 and under, with an average age of 28, making it arguably the youngest population of any European capitol.  Feedback from contact centers operating in Pristina indicates that this demographic yields abundant talent when it comes to recruiting those with the right skills to service consumers in Western Europe.  That skill set includes education and technical savvy.

Such technical know-how is driven by world-class network connectivity.  There is nearly 100% internet penetration in Kosovo, with nearly all demographics frequently online.  This has fostered a tech-savvy, digitally-driven labor force.  These are crucial success factors as both home-working and non-voice customer support continue to grow as nearshore CX business models.   

Languages are another differentiating facet for Pristina.  To be clear, Pristina will never be a multilingual hub on par with Cairo, Athens or Lisbon.  Rather, it excels in two languages: English and German. English is a pervasive second language for Pristina’s youth, consistent with other locations in the emerging European region. This trend helps those CX providers that need a niche English alternative in the face of pressure for geographic diversity and business continuity. 

As to German, this is another language that can be found in ample numbers across Pristina.  Kosovars have a reputation for strong affinity with the German language and culture. As a country Kosovo counts a significant number of German speakers, of which a substantial proportion of these reside in Pristina.  Those operating nearshore contact centers there cite the ability to recruit fluid numbers of those speaking the language of Goethe.

Factor in accessibility via direct air links to a growing number of important West European destinations alongside improving infrastructure, and Pristina has many of the elements required to form part of a diversified European delivery platform. It has already caught the attention of global providers that include Webhelp and Teleperformance; others are said to be considering a move there also.  The key to Kosovo’s capital is recognizing that it is a niche play; it is not a city that will accommodate large-scale contact centers. But, so long as this is kept front of mind, BPOs have an excellent chance of succeeding in Pristina.