The summer months can be quiet in the CX market. Granted, interactions often spike as consumers ramp up vacation plans, which certainly has been the case this year, as seen with the chaos associated with travel. However, during this period outsourcing players tend to avoid big strategic moves. This consensus was shattered with the recent announcement that the German remote-working specialist yoummday will acquire legacy European nearshore operator ICON.
The deal marks the latest in consolidation activity that has taken place in the third-party CX ranks over the past several months. Ambitious outsourcers know they need subject-matter expertise, capacity, innovative business models and new geographic delivery/demand territories, a realization that has spurred a spate of acquisitions since even before the pandemic.
In the case of the yoummday / ICON deal, numerous aspects are worth unpacking. The first of these relates to complimentary ways of delivering customer experience. Since 2016, yoummday has used the remote-working model. Today it has more than 6,000 qualified entrepreneurs that leverage a proprietary platform as the basis for service delivery. Conversely, ICON has been in the traditional bricks-and-mortar CX delivery game since the beginning of the 2000s. Over the years, its executives have developed a robust working model that has been instrumental in the firm’s ability to attract clients across around the world. Combining these two approaches to CX delivery offers the new entity – and its clients – the chance to leverage one or both ways of working, with each mode backed by solid and proven processes. This plays well to existing and prospective buyers that are anxious to drive business continuity through diversified CX approaches.
Then, there is ICON’s subject-matter expertise. In the past two decades, ICON has established itself as one of the leading BPO CX operators covering the B2B consumer space. Unfortunately, this segment is often neglected by many outsourcers due to its smaller agent volumes and often more complex requirements. But by championing this part of the CX management market, ICON has carved out a margin-friendly niche in which it truly excels, supporting some of the biggest brands in the B2B context.
yoummday also benefits from ICON’s burgeoning support of consumers of electric vehicles (EVs). As governments get more serious about curbing fuel consumption and with consumers turning to EVs in large numbers, this segment is gaining more traction from a customer management perspecitve. ICON’s decision to stake its claim as a leading provider of CX services in the EV space means an immediate advantage in winning clients from across the green vehicle ecosystem.
And, then there is the matter of ICON’s position in the European nearshore, specifically its base in the Czech Republic, which is widely seen as favorable by customer management professionals. This was highlighted in the previously mentioned 2022 Front Office CX Omnibus Survey, in which enterprise contact center buyers in Germany ranked the Czech Republic as their most-preferred offshore delivery point; among UK survey respondents the Czech Republic was in the top 10.
Finally, ICON’s homebase of Prague is a true competitive advantage. Prague is one of Central & Eastern Europe’s most popular destinations (and was also ranked as the region’s Most Business Friendly City by Emerging Europe) which makes it easy to attract prospective and existing clients for site visits. Further, Prague’s large ex-pat community also means a significant level of multilingualism that yoummday can tap into to satisfy ongoing client requirements.
At the end of the day, industry consolidation is a fact of life and unlikely to abate anytime soon. yoummday has made a strong strategic choice by acquiring ICON, which has a solid legacy in the CX delivery space. By combining these two firms into a new entity, the cards in Europe’s ever-competitive contact center sector are being reshuffled. Outsourcers in the region should watch developments closely.