The European nearshore continues bringing bold opportunities for CX investors.  Over the past two decades, as interest in Central & Eastern Europe has grown, new destinations in the region have emerged as prospective sites for customer management deployments.  One of the most recent pledges to the CX fraternity is Slovenia.

Slovenia offers several competitive elements.  However, what differentiates this destination is the value that it strikes.  Any firm looking for a European delivery point that offers accessibility, language skills and functional expertise, needs to have Slovenia on its shortlist.

Undoubtedly, countries across Central & Eastern Europe have found their niche in the CX world. Since the heady days of the early 2000s, when Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic emerged as go-to nearshore points for customer service delivery into Western Europe, the appetite for more of these regional unicorns has grown.

In turn, the contact center dynamic has steadily shifted further south and east within Europe’s nearshore. Today, more executives consider the former Yugoslav republics as desirable options. For those seeking deployments up to 1,000 full time CX employees, Slovenia is potentially attractive.

One reason for this has to do with Slovenia’s language skills.  In this country, there is an emphasis on English, which is taught from a very young age. Slovenia’s geography is also conducive to German, thanks to its position along the northern border with Austria. Similarly, Italian is readily available along the western frontier with Italy.  This provides CX operators in these regions with near-native fluency for two of the toughest languages to source in Europe.  Given this, it is little surprise that Italian respondents to the 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey by Ryan Strategic Advisory ranked Slovenia as their most favored offshore CX delivery point.

Another selling point is Slovenia’s accessibility. In the 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey, respondents from across major demand markets indicated that nearshore capacity is an important advantage for an outsourcer to possess.  In Slovenia’s case, flights of under 3 hours to major commercial centers across Western Europe offer a clear selling point for executives that are less willing than ever to spend hours on long-haul visits to contact centers.

Stability also adds to the country’s CX attractiveness.  According to Spirit Slovenia (the Slovenian investment promotion agency), the country’s inflation has been less than 2% in 2021, thanks in part to its use of the euro, while GDP growth levels have remained sustainable.

And multilateralism has been at the heart of the government’s policy orientation since the early 2000s, highlighted by Slovenia’s membership in the EU, NATO and the OECD.

But, in a sea of nearshore CX options in Central & Eastern Europe, what differentiates Slovenia from its regional neighbors?

Perhaps the most important answer is the balance that the BPO community has already struck between cost and quality in Slovenia.  Admittedly, with a population of just over 2 million people, this is not a country where large-scale, transactional customer experience operations can thrive.  Rather, the key in Slovenian BPO is higher-value niches. Almost half of the youth population are studying at university, so there is a clear opportunity to recruit problem-solvers with the linguistic and functional expertise that command premium prices.  Already, a number of locally owned providers (such as ECHO Contact Center and Linea Directa) have taken the proverbial plunge by setting up their own delivery centers across Slovenia. This proves the value of investment for prospective global operators to enter this market.

This is not to say that due diligence can be overlooked.  The country’s EU membership makes it prone to labor migration of educated talent, which has been a CX bug bear across Europe’s nearshore. As well, a rapidly diversifying economy means educated and multilingual Slovenes can pursue careers in sectors beyond customer experience. If not treated or paid well, contact center onboarding and retention could prove tough.  But, for those firms looking to expand in Central & Eastern Europe, considering Slovenia is essential.

Photograph attributed to Pedro Szekely under Creative Commons licence