by Rory Stark and Marcel Stroop | February 17, 2021
The Multi-Lingual Hub (MLH) approach is under pressure right now all across Europe. What are the issues they face and what does it mean for their customers? Rory Stark and Marcel Stroop ask if a perfect storm is on the horizon for this way of working.
There are 42 languages in Europe with more than a million speakers each, so it’s easy to see the appeal of the regional multi-lingual hub. It works for employees too, as any multi-lingual Berliners who’ve spent a few years mastering their kitesurfing in sunny Lisbon can tell you.
So why are there so many rumblings of discontent across the industry? Some of the issues, as you might expect, have been sparked by the pandemic. But there are longer-term challenges building too, a ‘perfect storm’ that’s already battering MLH hotspots like Sofia and Lisbon.
Let’s start with the obvious 800lb pandemic in the room. The Coronavirus undoubtedly played a hugely disruptive role in 2020. Plenty of MLH agents chose (or were forced) to go home when COVID-19 hit last year, hunkering down in their native countries while lockdowns were in place across most of mainland Europe. Travel restrictions are still in place in many countries and for some of those MLH agents, they simply haven’t been able to get back to their host countries to work.
Those agents who did stay have found it challenging to work from home when their contact centers were forced to close. Being sent home to work from the bedroom of the rented city flat that you share with a handful of friends (or strangers), is not the same as choosing to work from home in a dedicated remote setup. It’s little surprise that we’ve been hearing industry stories of isolated agents burning out, along with infosec challenges caused by the overnight shift to WFH.
Then there’s the fact that a BPO in a city like Lisbon is dependent on a 60km radius for its talent pool. It’s fighting in an already-saturated market – one that is depleted by pandemic restrictions on the movement of labor – to recruit and then retain multi-lingual talent.
If you’re one of the many hubs based in the UK, then you also have the consequences of Brexit to contend with, increasing your paperwork and costs in the short term and shrinking your future access to European agents in the longer term
Getting the right people. Hiring great people who know and love your brand is a tough ask when you’re trying to recruit from within a saturated talent pool. A task not made easier when it’s against a backdrop of pandemic-related uncertainty over restricted movement of labor.
Getting them at the right time. The increased scarcity of available talent means more vendors are chasing fewer people. Relocating people to these MLH cities take time (if it’s even allowed at the moment), and a traditional classroom approach to onboarding (typically taking around 6 weeks) means that there is a long recruitment timeline even when you can find the right people.
Lack of flexibility. Large contact centers are not renowned for their agility, perhaps understandably given their size and setup. Procedures and processes are often fixed and hard to change, along with traditional pricing models based on headcount rather than metrics like customer satisfaction.
We think a distributed operating model (DOM) like the one we use at 5CA, can help overcome some of the issues being experienced above. Here’s how:
Access to a global talent pool with the right skills. A distributed operating model isn’t constrained by geography when it comes to hiring. At 5CA we can employ anyone anywhere, with any skill, in any language. It means business continuity is guaranteed even through a pandemic. We’re also able to ensure quality: we scour the world to find ‘fans of brands’ who are already product experts: digital natives who don’t need to rely on scripted responses to get to the heart of the customer’s query.
Rapid speed-to-competence and deployment. A DOM enables the building of a large global talent pool, one that you can approach only when you need them, so that you can scale up a team at pace. It means we can get boots on the ground (and on their headsets) in days and weeks, not a few months.
A team that can flex with your business. A distributed remote-first team team that lives and works in the cloud is one that’s agile and responsive, and able to adapt quickly to the changing demands of its customers. Businesses faced previously-unthinkable challenges last year, and organizations have had to change fast to adapt. A CX partner with a distributed operating model can give you that flexibility.
If you’re interested in talking some more about the storm that might be affecting your BPO (and your business), then we’d love to talk to you about how we could make things better.
It’s never been more important to update your CX strategy for e-stores. Read our blog to learn the seven CX trends we predict will take off in 2021.
After the events of 2020, it’s no surprise that the whole world is gaming longer and harder than it ever has before. Mobile gaming in particular has had a stellar year, as millions of us have turned to our phones to stave off lockdown boredom.
Gaming is the world’s #1 lifestyle choice, played by more people than any other form of entertainment. We’ve had a ringside seat for its evolution, working hand-in-hand with our clients to support their customers as they enter huge, new immersive worlds.
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.
If you were not able to attend “CX Strategy: What now?”, our panel debate from last week, then here it is. An insightful, thought-provoking hour with industry gurus Mark Hillary, Stephen Loynd, Peter Ryan and our own Robert Van Diem. Here are some of the themes that really stood out for us.
I’m pleased to announce that I will be participating in a debate hosted by 5CA on October 27th. The title is CX Strategy: What Now? It’s going to be particularly topical, as one of the key things we will discuss, in the midst of this pandemic, is working from home (WFH) in the CX arena.
I’m pleased to announce that I will be participating in a debate hosted by 5CA on October 27th. The title is CX Strategy: What Now? I know that there are a lot of webinars and online debates these days, but I really think you should make time for this one:
Following on from National Customer Service Week, our Chief Customer Officer Rob van Herpen reflects on the journey that customer service has undergone in the last decade, and the role it plays within the wider scope of the whole customer experience.
I’m pleased to announce that I will be moderating a webinar hosted by 5CA on October 27th. The title is CX Strategy: What Now? I know you might be thinking “another day, another webinar invitation,” but as I’m chairing the debate I want to try making this one a little different. We can’t meet at conferences right now so the very least anyone planning a new webinar can do is to ensure it’s interesting and this one should hit the ball out of the park.
Gaming has been one of the few beneficiaries of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Global quarantine and stay-at-home orders preventing people from traveling, commuting, and socializing has resulted in a boom for the gaming industry.
Maximize the value of your VIP players and discover how work from home (WFH) support helps you add more value to your gaming whales.
Game launched? Check.
Player hype? Check.
Champagne? Crack that bottle, you deserve it!
But while it bubbles on your tongue, let me ask you this: Have you considered how to respond to players who need assistance or want to provide feedback? And when your player base grows (and let's be honest it will - your game is awesome), what will you do when those interactions start exploding in languages you do not speak? How will you manage the volume of requests coming in, but still provide the best possible user experience to your fans?
Yes…. Another thought piece on how COVID-19 is re-shaping life as we know it and what can we learn from it going forward.
With people stuck at home and shops closed, several industries, such as e-commerce, streaming entertainment, and gaming, are experiencing hyperactivity. The influx is driving revenues but also customer support needs.
Did anyone see that Assassins’ Creed Valhalla announcement trailer? Of course you did. Chances are you did not discover it on your own, but instead it appeared on your social media channels, most likely shared by a fan of the franchise or an influencer. At least that is how it happened to me. Game marketing truly has changed in the era of digital, community, and influencers.
In BPO, we often talk about how we deliver the best possible customer experience. We focus on training knowledgeable and empathetic agents, we run and rerun staffing simulations to ensure minimal wait times. These things are important, but, for the most part, once a customer is reaching out to us, it’s already a ding to the overall customer experience. Customers want an easy experience that works as it should and is intuitive.
Last month, Vice ran an interesting article by Jess Morrissette on how games marketing invented toxic gaming culture by promoting toxicity and harassment as value propositions for gaming. While considered perfectly reasonable at the time, games marketing has luckily taken a turn for the better.
One of the most interesting things about the gaming industry is that gamers don’t behave like customers. Sure, they have no problem spending like customers, but their devotion and passion makes them more like super-fans.
With more and more companies providing work-from-home possibilities, and children spending more time at home during school breaks, many tend to fill the time previously spent commuting or at after-school activities on picking up new or old hobbies. It comes as no surprise that playing video games is one of those favored hobbies.
The World Health Organization and almost every national government has encouraged everyone in non-essential roles to stay at home. With millions of people in self-isolation, there is a real need to ensure these people have something to do.
In this new day and age where no one spends more than 67 seconds away from a screen without at least a hint of anxiety, recruiting and engaging this new wave of job seekers is no less complicated than swiping right, get a match and then not really knowing how to open a conversation anymore (sound familiar?).
In today's business world, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who does not agree that Customer Experience is an essential aspect when building and maintaining a profitable business.
We’ve probably all heard of quality assessment (QA) before, where a quality specialist goes over agent interactions and checks to see if there are any possible areas of improvement or development...
The most successful companies make listening and understanding their customers a vital part of their business strategy. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
In this article, I’ll provide you with five tips to shape your customer service organization in such a way that you can prevent your customers from experiencing exactly this.
When you think about Customer Experience I’m willing to bet you’ll typically think about the experiences customers have when evaluating a product or service, choosing and buying it, and then actually using it.