Industry Commentary

COCCO Highlights UK Outsourcing Anxieties and Opportunities

By June 19, 2017September 17th, 2021No Comments

The inaugural Conference for Contact Centre Operations (COCCO) that took place last week in Reading served a number of useful purposes, the most obvious being the assembly of industry thought leaders, customer experience clients and solutions providers.  However, equally important was the event’s ability to encapsulate how UK front-office BPO stakeholders view the outsourcing market in the near-to-medium term.  And, while new business and technology models are clearly a source of excitement, unanswered macro-level questions leave many in the sector with a sense of unease.

Without a doubt, the mindshare present at COCCO 2017 was crucial to the event’s success.  Among the key topics that sparked interest included a keynote address by Guy Clapperton on the role of social media as a means by which to drive consumer loyalty.  Equally, the subject of contact centre solutions powered by artificial intelligence and automation discussed by thought leaders Sarah Burnett and Andrew Burgess afforded attendees with a good sense of how customer experience delivery can benefit from cutting edge technologies.  A raucous panel discussion debating what contact centre work in 2020 will look like drew informed opinions from industry veterans Simon Foot, William Carson and Declan Maguire, while Ryan Strategic Advisory was pleased to have provided a discussion on future UK customer experience delivery offshore alternatives.

But, very importantly COCCO 2017 did more than simply address the key elements of contact centre management and industry-level trends; it also served to highlight the trepidation so many in the UK customer experience industry are contemplating at the moment.  This was encapsulated in a presentation delivered by Adam Chester, Head of Economics at Lloyds Bank, in which several macro-level challenges were analyzed (including instability following the recent UK election, concerns around Brexit negotiations and employment growth in the face of stagnating productivity).  Given the discussion among delegates following this particular presentation, it was obvious that both providers and clients are concerned about the near-to-medium term future of British third-party customer experience delivery.

And, these same stakeholders are prudent to think pragmatically.  For instance, the impact of a further diminished Pound Sterling could prompt many British enterprises to suddenly rethink their offshore and nearshore strategies.  Equally, could the existing UK labour force cope with a sudden upward jolt in demand for domestic delivery?  And, to what extent will the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect next year impact enterprises and outsourcers?  From a technology angle, can cash-strapped UK enterprises truly afford to invest in new channel, automation and AI solutions?   These were among the most important questions raised during COCCO, and while perhaps they may be uncomfortable points of discussion, it is best that they are on the table rather than be swept under the carpet.