CCA, the leading independent authority on customer contact strategies and operations, hosted an inaugural event with heads of UK and Global OSP to debate the challenges and opportunities in today's economic environment.
The debate highlighted a common problem for many who said margins are constantly squeezed as contract negotiations focus primarily on price rather than the wider benefits outsourcing can deliver such as improved customer satisfaction, specialist expertise, innovation and operational enhancements
Jeff Smith, Chairman of global outsourcer Teleperformance, warned: "We are our own worst enemies within a business where the principal question we face is 'How cheap are you? not how good are you?' As an industry we've failed to establish the principal reason to outsource - it should be because it's better not because it's cheaper."
Attendees discussed how BPO are in a unique position to create world-class processes, invest in world-class technology and deliver a world-class customer service. Investment in skilled staff that would require higher wages but deliver a premium service at a premium price was also a focus for debate
Ian Cherry, Managing Director of outsourcer Ventura commented: "Improving the situation is within our own hands...There is a dam of opportunity for us but we have to focus more on longer term strategic outcome than tactical decisions based on price."
CCA Chief Executive Anne Marie Forsyth said:" For the last 12 years inhouse contact centre operations have had an 85% market share while the outsourcing share has remained static at 10-15%. Yet, business process outsourcing is more accepted as a business model and technology has advanced. We need to identify barriers to growth and develop tactics to improve relations between inhouse operators and outsourcers."
The debate was attended by representatives of leading outsourcers including Teleperformance, Capita, Ventura, Atos Origin, First Source, HeroTSC, Response, Stellar BPO, The Listening Company, Sykes and Fujitsu as well as the Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Alex Paterson.
Paterson said: "As a region, we will be the first in the UK to roll out superfast broadband which will make us one of the most digitally connected regions in Europe. With 33 very successful outsourced centres run by major players within the area and some exciting homeworking pilots, we are excited about the further opportunities this will present to the Highlands and Islands."