by Rory Stark | November 25, 2020
The times, they are a-most-definitely-changing. As seasoned CX veterans know, plenty of the received wisdoms of third-party contact center management have received something of a battering over the last few years.
It might be the drastic resculpting that COVID-19 is still doing to the global economy, or just the increasing complexities of delivering world-class customer service across an ever-expanding range of traditional, digital and social channels. Whatever the reason, we’re seeing more and more acceptance of the need for more than one front-office service provider.
If this is an issue that’s landed on your desk then maybe we can help. We’ve commissioned industry maven Peter Ryan to give us a critical assessment of multivendor CX strategies – a clear-eyed look at whether they work, and the strategic merits (if one is implemented properly). His whitepaper is available to download now and (as you’d expect from Peter) it’s packed full of insightful analysis.
In the whitepaper, Peter discusses the seductive allure of simplicity for many executives, leading them to put all their eggs in one third-party provider’s basket. He also examines the deeper reasons for this, including the difficulties of managing standards across multiple vendors, as well as getting them to work harmoniously alongside each other, particularly when there are overlapping services.
After all, switching suppliers – or broadening out your mix to bring in another vendor alongside your existing partner – will bring with it upheaval, additional work and onboarding, alongside the obvious risks inherent in trying something new.
But the potential rewards of the multiple-vendor approach are many and varied, according to Peter’s analysis. Done right, the move to multi-vendors can bring with it improved business continuity due to diversified capacity. Far from difficulties being caused by overlapping disciplines, there are huge opportunities in benefitting from the complementary skills they bring (as well as encouraging your suppliers to compete against one another).
And what are clients looking to find in their dream vendor? Peter shares the results of a survey of 540 decision-makers across North America, Australia and Eastern Europe, and it’s a fascinating list of responses. From my point of view, the findings certainly chime with the pain points I hear about in my conversations across the industry. Here are my five primary reasons why I think being faithful to one supplier might be overrated.
How do you make sure you’re getting the best people to represent your business? Is there enough quality to go round and how do you know your single supplier has access to the best of it? How big is the talent pool they’re fishing in?
Many global BPO CX-outsourcing companies have relied heavily on multilingual hub destinations, where there is a significant talent pool available. These hubs provided a hugely successful model of recruiting native speaking talent from in-country, from where they would fly over the winning candidates, then house and support them as they settled in.
Covid has significantly reduced the workability of this model due to the travel bans, limiting the resource to a saturated marketplace within a small radius of travel. Barcelona, Lisbon, Athens, Madrid, Berlin for example, are all now struggling to recruit the right volume of languages in the current climate.
Many multilingual outsourced deals are usually 10+ languages across various live and non-live channels that reduce exposure to the risk of interrupted service, which is common with the traditional bricks-and-mortar solutions. Whereas today the different normal caused by COVID offers more resilient possibilities of a work-from-home setup.
Given the new normal in terms of an increasingly distributed workforce, we’ll likely see more and more empty multilingual hubs across Europe, similar to the retail bricks-and-mortar collapse in traditional retail.
CX outsourcers have talked continually about digital transformation from a channel perspective, but now the BPOs are being forced to fully digitally transform their offering. What will the impact be on some of the global MSA agreements, which were designed around a bricks-and-mortar setup but are now being delivered within a hurriedly-assembled WFH system? Can someone please pass the QBR Nausea Prevention tablets to the CX leaders and vendor managers who are managing these relationships daily?
Think of the agents that signed up for an office job on a gaming player support program, who are now alone, handling the player support from their bedrooms, or shared living space – if they share apartments as many brick & mortar contact center workers do. Part of the appeal of the job was social interaction and peer support. Now, many brick & mortar employees are craving daily face-to-face conversations, team-building activities, conversations by the water cooler, team chats and more. This way of working isn’t what they signed up for.
Although online video has been thrown to the forefront of the communications mix, it will never replace face-to-face for these people – it’s a seismic shift that they will not be able to adapt to. Increasingly, the impact on wellbeing of a workforce ‘thrown’ home is being raised as a key C-Level concern by CX leaders.
On the other hand, those that are intrinsically motivated to work from home continue to fare well. No dips in productivity, engagement, or performance; they are simply carrying on in their chosen work ‘habitat’, confident in their purpose and working in line with their aptitude and preference.
Any of this sounding familiar? Let’s talk.
Download Peter Ryan’s white paper on building a multi-vendor strategy
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