As executives aim to find a new balance between shoring delivery models, it is abundantly clear that the capacity to source new locations that drive quality and value is paramount. With this in mind, the extent to which buyers and BPOs have been prioritizing Central and Eastern Europe over the past several months is nothing short of stellar. In fact, few regions across the globe are better equipped at providing the language skills, CX talent and business-friendly operating environment that Emerging Europe brings to the table.
However, in an age when the world is becoming somewhat flatter, no one should underestimate how some of these markets are becoming saturated. Invariably, this leads to challenges around higher input costs and tighter labor pools. This is where the opportunity to leverage newer destinations that are rapidly emerging to the forefront of CX delivery can be an opportunity.
Queue the theme to a popular 1970s martial arts movie – Enter Serbia.
While Serbia may not be best known for its CX and BPO space among the chattering classes of global customer management circles, this is quickly changing. Despite the country not having the same notoriety as perhaps Poland, Bulgaria or the Czech Republic, this is a temporary blip. Numerous factors place Serbia in a pole position relative to its regional neighbors.
Among the most obvious has to be government support. The extent to which Serbia’s administration has been able to tailor incentives to the outsourcing community has been admirable. Equally speaking, the focus on infrastructure development has ensured network connectivity, electricity and transport that rivals countries in western Europe. There is little reason to believe that this is likely to change any time soon.
Then there is Serbia’s talent pool. This location has rapidly become known for its capacity to provide the BPO community with agents that bring niche language skills (tending toward German and English), as well as an almost instinctive capacity to support complex CX interactions. To be clear, this is not a low-value, high-transactional customer experience market – rather, Serbia is positioned to support higher-value, higher-touch end-users.
What may be surprising is the extent to which Serbia has already established its BPO credentials with some of the world’s most well-known brands that are operating from the country. Among those supporting end-users in other parts of the world include Sitel and Transcom.
But, no one should underestimate the burgeoning local outsourcing scene in Serbia either. In fact, the solid base of this industry has been built by local entrepreneurs that have established CX operations within the country to support end-users in Europe and North America. What immediately strikes first-time BPO visitors to the country is the extent to which locally-owned / operated providers like Contact Service or Trizma are name checked along-side the global players. A locally-driven industry has always been the hallmark of a strong contact center sector in any offshore or nearshore location, and in this case, this is a box that Serbia ticks nicely.
This is not to say that Serbia’s CX stakeholders do not face challenges as they seek ongoing global consideration. The country still faces considerable push-back from buyers and outsourcers that have lingering perceptions about political stability. And, with so many different choices across the European nearshore, standing out from the crowd takes effort and resources. That said, these are also challenges that have been faced by countries in the American nearshore (notably Honduras) and that have been overcome in short order. Savvy CX watchers should look now at Serbia to ensure a foot on this country’s outsourcing ladder, while they still have first-mover advantage.