Industry Commentary

BPOs Must Focus Their Environmental Credentials in 2020

By January 13, 2020January 10th, 2024No Comments

Now that the New Year’s celebrations are over it is important to be honest about the challenge of the decade ahead: climate change is real, and its impact on all aspects of life will only become more apparent.  With frightening images dominating nightly news broadcasts, the outcry for action on climate issues has reached a crescendo.  This should not be ignored by members of the contact center outsourcing community, many of whom are taking the initiative to do their part in the battle for environmental delivery.  However, what is abundantly clear is that more efforts are needed in this regard. In the 2020s, enterprise buyers will be increasingly focused on their partners’ green credentials.

Even the most jaded cannot ignore the images of Australia’s wildfires, so pervasive through the holiday season. It is only the latest sign that rising temperatures are taking a toll on the planet.  Couple this with growing concerns about pollution related to plastics, a rise in environmental activism across so many countries, and a new, ecologically-motived commercial environment is the result.  But this trend is not limited to individual consumers.  Outsourcers need to realize that this is also very much a dynamic among B2B buyers, that they expect their suppliers to have the right environmental provisions in place.  Sourcing contact centers is no exception.

Consider that the most recent iteration of the Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey highlighted the extent to which environmental credentials are important among the most important buying factors when enterprise executives choose an outsourced customer experience partner.  It is telling that when broken out by country of the respondent, the ability to provide green contact center delivery was among the top 5 most important attributes that an outsourcer can bring to the table. In Canada it was third-most important; in France it was second.

What can the outsourcing community do to ensure greatly compliance with environmentally-friendly contact center delivery?  To be fair, many providers have already made significant progress in this regard. They understand that this is something that both clients and their employees are taking to heart.  However, elements that should be considered for those looking to make more of a green footprint include implementation of more virtual working capacity (thereby reducing the number of employees on the roads), removal of plastic food / beverage containers from contact centers, and considering only facilities that are constructed to environmentally-friendly standards.

Environmental, social and governance criteria is not a fad.  Take the announcement of JetBlue at the start of 2020 that it would become the first carbon neutral US-based airline starting in mid-2020.  The investment required to make such a shift in delivery of travel services is complex, but consumers are demanding it. At a more institutional level, the announcement by BlackRock that sustainability will be key to its portfolio decisions going forward was very encouraging. This is exactly the mindset that outsourcers in today’s market should be thinking about.  Commercially, it just makes sense given the priority that so many buyers appear to be placing on existing and prospective partnerships.  Investing in the right green technologies, processes and facilities will ensure at the very least consideration for new contracts or the renewal of existing ones.

But, from a broader perspective, doing the right thing for the environment is never a bad plan.  With the precarious nature of the ecosystem, every little thing will help in the fight against climate change. No matter what the size of the outsourcer, each player must do its part.