Industry Commentary

Impact Sourcing is Essential for Front-Office BPOs

By April 12, 2019January 10th, 2024No Comments

The outsourcing industry owes its existence to providers constantly striving to innovate around service delivery.  However, in order to sustain itself, new approaches that marry the benefits of efficient end-user management and corporate social responsibility in the form of impact sourcing will be a major element to the future of front-office BPO.  To date, this business model has been tested in a number of venues, and with very strong results.  As impact sourcing continues its march forward, not only is it incumbent on outsourcers to embrace the clear benefits that it brings, but these same providers should anticipate that their clients will expect this way of service delivery to be on offer as part of a broader offering where the triple bottom line plays a more relevant role.

While many in the contact center ecosystem have heard about impact sourcing from a 40,000-foot view, it is worth outlining what this business model actually means.  The Rockefeller Foundation defines impact sourcing as:

An inclusive employment practice through which companies in global supply chains intentionally hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise would have limited prospects for formal employment.

The express goal of this inclusive hiring methodology is to ameliorate the life chances of individuals from disadvantaged circumstances, and the front-office BPO space is well positioned to incorporate a non-traditional talent pool.

The heavy offshore footprint of customer experience delivery lends itself to impact sourcing.  Take the number of developing countries in which this approach to hiring would be beneficial to local communities, regardless of whether they happen to be in Latin America, Africa or the APAC region.  By working with community organizations that are motivated to find gainful employment for citizens motivated to work in skilled roles, BPOs will find that leveraging impact sourcing will certainly expand their addressable pools of talent from which to draw. But, more importantly, it will rapidly ensure quality of life improvements for those who are part of such programs.  To date, there are multiple examples of impact sourcing yielding very positive commercial and social results.  These include (but are not limited to) the efforts of Harambee in South Africa, and as recently reported in Nearshore Americas, initiatives in parts of Colombia as well.

But, the potential of impact sourcing is not exclusive to the offshore or nearshore.  Rather, as more locations in western demand markets come to terms with shifts in the economy away from manufacturing, dealing with wide-scale, structural unemployment will need to be a priority. There is no reason why outsourcers cannot use the impact sourcing model in targeted regions (be they urban or rural) that are facing these challenges.  Not only will it help the communities in question, it will also provide access to more opportunities for onshore delivery.

Outsourcers should not underestimate the desire of their clients to want a more socially-responsible manner of delivering service.  In the soon-to-be released 2019 Front Office Omnibus Survey, enterprise contact center decision-makers indicate that having a sound impact sourcing strategy was seen as a noted competitive advantage when choosing a BPO partner.  And while this sentiment was most notable in the UK, France and Germany, North American and Australian respondents also supported this view.

The fact is outsourcing executives should expect that there will be more need for corporate social responsibility in how they conduct their operations, and strategies will need to be formulated accordingly.  Alongside green initiatives and contributing to broader well-being in the communities from where services are delivered, the need for impact sourcing should not be underestimated.  This business model is the way forward, and progressive-minded organizations should embrace it.