Most Favored Offshore Locations Show Desire for Stability & Quality

The soon-to-be published 2017 Front-Office BPO Omnibus Survey provides some thought-provoking results for contact center outsourcers, ranging from digital engagement choices to operational challenges.  However, so far the data set that has generated the most chatter is that of enterprise executive favorability to specific offshore locations.  In 2017 and beyond, outsourcing clients clearly prefer quality and reputation in their nearshore and offshore deployments.  This trend has been pronounced over the past few years, and is likely to continue given the focus so many firms are placing on business continuity and quality end-user interactions.

The announcement of the most favored offshore locations during a widely-viewed webinar provided a clear line of sight into the thinking of clients and prospects of contact center outsourcers.  That Canada* emerged as the first choice among more than thirty locations should not come as a surprise.  It has long been a preferred nearshore destination for US enterprises and outsourcers, due to mainly to proximity and overlaps in commercial / popular culture between the two countries (notwithstanding a very favorable exchange rate).  Equally, India’s status as a strong second-place speaks to its legacy in delivering contact center excellence to consumers across the Anglosphere.

With Malaysia finishing third, followed by Portugal, South Africa and New Zealand tying for fourth and the Philippines rounding out the top five, clearly enterprises are most interested in working in offshore centers known for stability and strong reputations for customer experience delivery.

There were also many other locations that were also very favored by respondents, albeit within specific regions.  In North America, there was considerable interest shown toward countries in Central/South America and the Caribbean. And, while UK respondents were very enthusiastic toward Central & Eastern European destinations (as well as Malta), Australian enterprise executives appear predisposed to delivery points found within short travel distances.  Thus, vendors that can tailor appropriate nearshore options should do so as a competitive differentiator.

Several up-and-coming locations were cited by respondents as potential future offshore hubs.  Specifically, Haiti ranked relatively high among Canadian executives (no doubt due to its French / English capacity and low operating costs), while Macedonia performed well in the UK. However, there were some offshore locations that continue to face challenges in enterprise perception.  For example, only a few years ago Turkey and Egypt were among two of the most sought-after offshore destinations, yet today each country has limited favorability, almost certainly due to ongoing stability concerns.

Offshoring as a contact center business model has stood the test of time, and continues to grow as vendors located overseas drive remote customer service excellence. What will be imperative for outsourcers based in strongly-favored countries will be to maintain ongoing interest among clients.  For those in emerging locations, shaping enterprise perception about these delivery points will be crucial, and must be done in a coordinated effort with all BPO stakeholders on the ground.

* Canadian respondents participating in the survey were not allowed to choose Canada as an offshore option.