Outsourced customer care grows in EMEA despite downturn

Outsourcing firms handling call volumes from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) remain competitive and profitable with successful initiatives to contain cost during the global economic downturn, our research has found.

Outsourcing providers also cite competitive pressures and regulatory factors that may affect future, short-term business growth. The effect of the downturn seems promising for several vendors concerning both existing and prospective prospects.

Perceptions of loss of control over customer interactions are diminishing, as providers in this market deploy successful implementations, offer advanced services, and publish customer success stories.

Our analysis finds that the markets earned revenues of €10.7 billion) in 2008 and estimates this to reach €14.0 billion in 2014.

Despite the economic downturn, market participants in EMEA have high expectations for continued expansion plans with new and existing clients into 2009 and beyond. Outsourcers offer a multitude of benefits to their client base, including eliminating capital expenses, flexibility and access to qualified labor, multiple languages, reduced costs, advanced management techniques, and the opportunity to gain access to state of the art technology without massive financial outlays.

A number of market participants report that they have moved to align their sales forces better with clients’ demand for vertical expertise, especially in financial services, as well as telecom, travel and healthcare. Many providers are in the process of expanding their professional services groups in anticipation of consulting opportunities.

The most evident challenge in call centers is that of complexity. This includes increased diversity and complexity of products and services, the need for agents’ multi-lingual skills, consumer demand for speed and multichannel media touches, and increased emphasis on cross-selling and up-selling. EMEA providers report dealing with complex industry legislation and regulatory compliance issues.

In today’s environment, it is increasingly common for clients in EMEA to require ‘blended’ delivery models, using a combination of onshore, near shore, and offshore customer contact centers. The offshore option provides clients with lower labor costs and ’follow-the-sun’ service provisioning, especially for English-language call volumes, yet, hiring sufficient support for other European languages is a challenge for all providers.

Those providers offering multiple solutions and agent models, such as clients’ in-house agents, vendor brick-and-mortar agents, self-service options, and work-at-home or remote agents, are in a favorable position to take advantage of the market. Outsourcing firms that have CEO support to execute a solid security strategy, with an established internal security practice, will be well-prepared to meet these important client demands for data privacy, security certifications, and regulatory compliance.

Frost & Sullivan