The old cliché, ‘what’s old is new again’ resonates when assessing Ireland’s front-office BPO value proposition. In a twist of fate, what was one of the original pioneering contact center destinations of the late ‘90s has once again become the focus of much outsourcing chatter, with many opinion leaders wondering if Ireland can re-emerge as a leading customer experience delivery point. If this is to occur, vendors will need to adapt to the realities of today’s Ireland, and avail themselves of a country where the value is found in service quality, rather than volume.
There are many reasons why outsourcing vendors are giving Ireland a second look. Its economy has turned around significantly in recent years, and its global competitiveness rankings continue to improve. In addition, Ireland’s youthful, skilled workforce is a major selling point for outsourcers. The country’s legacy in contact centers cannot be understated either; and while a large proportion of deployments are in-house, the noise being made by home-grown success stories such as VoxPro, both domestically and on the global scene, are a clear sign of a resurgence in Irish BPO confidence.
But, for vendors to take full advantage of Ireland as an outsourcing location, there must be recognition that the market of twenty years ago has evolved. Unquestionably, Ireland has retained large numbers of native-tongue foreign language speakers, and outsourcers can certainly leverage this labor pool for niche pan-European deployments. Equally, it remains a logical point of diversification for many UK firms looking to nearshore contact center work close to home. However, outsourcers need to look at Ireland in terms of other aspects of customer experience delivery. One obvious example is to use Irish agents for higher-value voice and non-voice end-user management, where outcome excellence is essential to developing brand loyalty. In addition, the considerable technology skills that are found in Ireland are also a major opportunity for outsourcing players. This is not simply from the perspective of front-office technical support, but also for managing more complex CRM back-office processes related to analytics, data management and automation.
There is another aspect of Irish contact center delivery that outsourcers should consider, specifically relating to English language offshore support. While the UK will remain an obvious market for these services, the chance to service consumers in Australia and New Zealand (two of the most expensive contact center markets in the world) from Ireland should be examined in detail. Not only do these countries share significant cultural and commercial similarities, but with executives in Australia and New Zealand eagerly looking for cost-effective native English language alternatives, Ireland is a potentially attractive option.
In the current global BPO environment, the renewed interest in Ireland for outsourced contact center delivery can only be seen as good news. As vendors continue to explore its potential, recognizing the how best to service consumers using Irish resources will be essential to long-term success. Thus, in order to maximize the value of BPO deployments in Ireland, the focus must be on higher-value services and new offshore markets.