Some trends come and go. In the domain of CX, experienced customer management executives are adept at discerning the difference between a flash-in-the-pan versus the need for important structural changes in approach.  One emerging trend relates to how new entrants to key demand markets should choose their delivery points. It is becoming more apparent that clients in the West are prioritizing third-party partners that have a physical onshore presence in their locations. This should not be underestimated by prospective offshore outsourcing entrants.  Indeed, it will prove more important than ever in 2022.

Change typically means disruption, jostling one from comfortable habits and requiring effort to think outside the box.  This is certainly the case among many BPO operators based in a variety of offshore locations, which have new geographic commercial targets in their respective lines of sight.  In the past, an overseas outsourcer could successfully enter a new country in Western Europe, North America or Asia with some slick promotional materials and a solid offshore or nearshore delivery point.  This approach no longer works.  Providers in locales near or far that are serious about new market penetration should plan for some type of physical onshore presence.

Across sectors, clients are looking to work with BPOs that have domestic capacity.  Part of this owes to a renewed interest in business continuity, and with that goes recognition that a well-diversified delivery platform should include onshore operations. But also, quality assurance is on the minds of many CX decision-makers in sourcing markets. For this buying segment, having agents working in a supervised domestic facility is confidence building.

The question then arises: Why can’t this domestic work be handled exclusively by home-based agents?  Ideally, this would make overhead management much more palatable for new entrants in a geography.

In reality, evidence suggests that enterprise executives are looking for a domestic market commitment from their potential CX partner. Nothing proves how seriously a new BPO entrant is to a country than for it to open a physical contact center.  Moreover, clients visiting their partner’s onshore CX site enjoy greater accessibility, which is doubly helpful given ongoing travel restrictions.  Finally, there is the agent consideration. As the pandemic draws to a what is hoped will be a close, more front-line staff are anxious to spend at least part of their time in a physical contact center so they can be around peers. The potential to recruit enthusiastic site-based quality staff onshore should not be underestimated.

The idea of opening a facility in an expensive Western location may be discouraging to many in the BPO space, but a costly, large scale investment reminiscent of 1990s-vintage contact centers need not be the case.  Rather, the smart money is with those that prioritize smaller sites. Compact operations can act as the BPO’s commercial window to the national market.

To be effective, such facilities should emphasize a desirable location that is easily accessed by agents and clients. They need also to underline a positive and vibrant atmosphere that drives better interactions with end-users.  Such an environment will not only land top-quality talent, but it can also serve to retain existing employees, and even see this community recommend that workplace to their friends.

The bottom line is a physical onshore presence is necessary to be taken seriously in today’s key CX demand markets. This was encapsulated recently with the decision by Jamaica-based itel to open a site in Jeffersonville Indiana, to secure a US high-end fashion retailer as a client. Recognizing this domestic fact of life and making the right planning moves now will reward bold players in the offshore BPO community.

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