Industry Commentary

Standards Need to be a BPO Offshore Location Differentiator

By August 17, 2020January 10th, 2024No Comments

Customer experience management has changed massively over the past two decades, and this evolution will continue.  When considering how best to position a location for front-line delivery, the growing number of offshore and nearshore countries seeking to plant their respective flags in the BPO space need all the advantages possible.  While it is obvious that ensuring a stable operating environment is important, and has been pushed by most (if not all) credible delivery points, the ability to differentiate on the basis of quality is vital. It is in this spirit that driving contact center standards should be on the radar for countries in the offshore or nearshore that want to grow their outsourcer footprints.  With a likely re-jigging of how BPOs consider their offshore choices, being able to offer a national level of operational standard is a major advantage.

To be clear, an offshore or nearshore location’s advantages are important in how outsourcers make their site selection choices.  The idea of a BPO’s clients tolerating overwhelming amounts of delivery capacity housed in a small number of jurisdictions is over.  Rather, enterprise decision-makers, guided by prudence, will want their outsourcing partners to be more broadly situated. Think risk mitigation and geographical diversification. Conceptually, this diversification will lead to redundancy, which amounts to protection should a delivery center suffer a disruption.  But, the need for more service points will also be balanced with demand for quality.  No self-respecting buyer of front-line BPO will tolerate their partner being situated in a jurisdiction that has a reputation for bad service or poor operations.

This is where the concept of contact center standards comes into play.  The idea around standards is straightforward – operators in a particular location would adhere to performance levels that would take into account service quality, security management, environmental considerations and operational best practices, among others.

Consider the compliance that many outsourcers already follow with regard to recognized certifications, such as PCI or GDPR across Europe.  Ideally, a jurisdictionally-driven set of standards should provide compliant local operators  with a greater level of confidence from overseas buyers who will appreciate a focus on quality.  Equally, for economic development agencies eager to win new investment from outsourcers, this could be crucial in reassuring the presence of an existing industry that is focused around solid on-the-ground operations.

The question then revolves around how best to implement and manage a jurisdictional standards dynamic.  The objective would be to incorporate a practice that affords maximum quality, without being disruptive to existing operations.  This will mean close collaboration between industry representative bodies and membership in order to ensure a smooth roll-out, and also to select what type of a standard is to be applied.  Certainly, there are trans-national ones, such as ISO (see ISO 18295 Parts I and II – Customer Contact Center Standards) that can be used. Alternatively, different jurisdictions may choose to develop their own home-grown versions.  This approach would consider local nuances in parallel with leveraging the best elements of different standards that have been applied in other parts of the world.

The key to such an initiative will be broad local market buy-in alongside transparency.  If a industry’s providers will not participate, it would be near impossible to use locally-adhered standards as a competitive advantage. And, in order to have the right impact compliance must be auditable by outside impartial third-parties.  Anything less will not be taken seriously by buyers in Western demand markets.