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How are CX service providers responding to pandemic challenges?

Key Facts and Highlights
• Over 88% of CX outsourcers have virtual business continuity plans that take into account work-at-home.
• 80% of BPOs are implementing some form of multiple, hybrid physical and virtual work models.
• Mental wellness programs are being implemented by 75% of outsourcers.
• Negotiating revised compliance and regulatory policies with clients for work-at-home is a key focus areas for 63% of service providers.  

The global COVID’19 pandemic sent industries into turmoil when surging infection rates forced state- and country-wide shutdowns. Amid stringent social distancing requirements and shelter-at-home orders, global contact centers and customer experience (CX) service providers faced a dual burden.

Clients turned to their trusted outsourcing partners to ensure business continuity, address mandated workplace capacity constraints and unlock capabilities in response to shifting consumer engagement and e-commerce trends. However, contact center operators also had to protect the health and safety of their workforces and adhere to government-mandated regulations.

Background to Research

Now, a new research report reveals the steps taken and industry best practices implemented by leading global contact center and CX outsources to navigate these unprecedented challenges.

The 2021 Global CxOutsourcers Business Continuity and Evolving Work Models Survey for Outsourcers is the second report in a three-part industry series by Knowledge Executive* and Ryan Strategic Advisory that surveys CX outsourcers. The first edition reviewed the needs and responses of investment promotion agencies. The third and final report (due out in June 2021) will survey global brands and enterprises.

This report in particular, includes important learnings and insights gleaned from the extensive quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews with over 60 global BPO and contact center outsourcers regarding best practice guidelines for CX outsourcing.

Key Takeaways and Findings

The major theme to emerge was the virtual-overnight shift to work-at-home operating models. However, most operators followed an augmented approach by maintaining at least some on-site operational capabilities in the physical contact center to allay client concerns around data security and privacy.

Innovation and adaptability were vital amid this dynamic business environment, with operators adopting hybrid working models, virtual business continuity plans and enabling technology solutions to transition entire workforces.

The Fundamental Messages

The unequivocal messages to emerge from the research is the distinct advantage held by operators that already had cloud-enabled infrastructure and omnichannel capabilities in place when the need to transition to work-at-home operations arose.

And the pandemic has effectively accelerated the digitalization of the contact center among those operators that had not yet embraced cloud deployment models and hosted solutions. 

However, for the most part, it wasn’t always a simple plug-and-play transition for most. The report uncovers key challenges faced by operators that successfully transitioned to at-home operations, such as quality monitoring, knowledge management in remote working scenarios, and the ability to effectively communicate, motivate and support remote workers.

Widespread retrenchments and layoffs due to the pandemic’s economic impact has also changed the nature of global workforces. Lower headcounts may prompt greater reliance on gig workers our automated interfaces (even among outsourcers), to deliver critical services or ramp up capacity on-demand, without permanently increasing salary costs.

The survey findings reveal that the gig economy is already impacting contact centre and front office BPO providers. In this regard, the most prolific trend already impacting operators is the need for collaborative virtual workspaces, according to 50% of respondents.

What to Look Out For

Based on these experiences, the pandemic continues to drive digital adoption within the industry. A range of cloud-provisioned omnichannel, customer engagement and CX solutions dominate strategies as operators continue to adapt to hybrid remote and on-site operating models. Mental wellness programs, consumer engagement and compliance/regulatory policies have had to evolve. 

More importantly, the survey also shares important insights and predictions for the post-COVID era. As mass COVID-19 vaccination programs gather momentum, the world can begin to think about life beyond the pandemic.

The third edition of the report – based on interviews with over 250 global brands and enterprises – will be released in June 2021.

Further Detail

The in-depth analysis of the extensive qualitative and quantitative research shared in the report provides operators and outsourcers with key data that can inform decisions regarding next-phase digitalization initiatives and the technologies that offer the greatest business value.

Moreover, the report can help operators avoid common pitfalls and consider potential challenges to expedite contact center digitalization initiatives and cloud transformation projects and deliver a better return on these technology investments.

Ultimately, the 2021 Global CxOutsourcers Business Continuity and Evolving Work Models Survey for Outsourcers can serve as a working guide and compendium of insights for all industry participants to utilize when planning and evolving their BPO operations, or when considering their future strategies in the new world of work beyond the constraints imposed by COVID-19.

Download your copy of the 2021 Global CxOutsourcers Business Continuity and Evolving Work Models Survey for Outsourcers here.

*Knowledge Executive is the research arm of Genesis Global Business Services.

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