BPO Technology trends: Blessing or Curse?
Many BPOs that have built the core of their businesses on the provision of human labor or Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) are wary of automation and its outcome. After all, if your fees are based on headcount, then introducing labor-saving technologies (AI powered in particular) into a customer’s operations can negatively affect your bottom line.
However, though it may seem counter-intuitive, some of the world’s leading BPOs are betting on technology adoption. They recognize that technology is here to stay, and have made the strategic choice to embrace innovative technological solutions. By turning a potential threat into a secret weapon, BPOs utilize the power of technology as a strategic differentiator, as well as an additional revenue source and growth engine.
The value of BPOs embracing technology is underscored by Accenture’s High Performance BPO Report, which highlights that BPO relationships which deliver true business value use technology as a source of innovation and advantage, rather than to simply provide the delivery infrastructure. The research indicates that 69% of high performers consider technology provided by the service provider to be an important component of the BPO relationship, compared to only 27% of typical performers.
Driven by a need to improve the ever-evolving customer experience at scale, the customer care industry is rapidly moving to more digital, multichannel, self service first, automated service practices.
These new practices rely heavily on technology and its proper integration and implementation, from data handling and advanced analytics to process adjustments, training and more. This need represents a massive opportunity for BPOs to partner with leading technology companies in order to deliver these services to their customers, as well as to develop the expertise necessary to address tomorrow’s demands.
Gartner’s data underscores this opportunity. Gartner reports that the worldwide customer management BPO market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 5.2% (CAGR 2016 through 2021). By 2021, Gartner estimates the market will increase in size to approximately $46 billion.
Capturing the opportunity
The 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey by Deloitte revealed that clients now expect enhanced and specialized services from outsourced consultants. We’ve underlined three primary goals and considerations for why and how a contact center BPO should plan its tech adoption strategy.
Own the end-to-end customer journey
As self service and automated processes become predominant in the customer care world, many customers struggle with their implementation; successful adoption is rare.
Successfully integrating automation and AI-powered self service as a part of the customer journey presents a significant challenge, as these capabilities are heavily reliant on data flow to and from the contact center. In order to achieve a holistic view of the complete customer journey — which is critical to a customer-centric strategy — the process must be managed by a unified team.
Embracing technology provides BPO with the opportunity to own the automated self service part of the process. Providing a proven end-to-end solution that enables their customers to create a unified customer journey – across many touchpoints – drives better engagement and a stronger reliance on BPO services.
Create higher value services with tech-based expertise
Significant barriers to successful adoption of call center technologies are lack of updated business processes, long implementation cycles, and a shortage of experienced business transformation leaders to take charge in a fast moving environment.
Sophisticated technology brings with it the inherent need for more services. To ensure the automation processes run smoothly, companies require expertise in implementation, management, process optimization, training, data storage/analysis, and much more.
BPOs are positioned to dominate this space. By gathering best practices from multiple industries and use cases available to them, BPOs can become leaders in new technologies and their implementation. As drivers of other areas of the customer management process, BPOs are well positioned to lead the integration of customer service technologies.
BPOs can then create high value expert services that can ensure the deployed technology truly serves as a value multiplier for the company. Higher value services and personnel not only translate directly into higher revenue opportunities for BPOs, but also enable BPOs to differentiate as an innovator in a competitive marketplace by offering services that enable customers to be more efficient and improve their performance.
Engage with new high margin revenue streams
Technology sales is a higher margin business than human labor. BPOs, whether playing middle man, or entering the technology domain through investment and acquisitions, are diversifying their offerings and enjoying increasing returns. Simply put, the more you sell, the higher your margin.
Technology sales also generate additional service opportunities, upsells, longer term contracts, etc. – all direct revenue generators.
The growing scale of the customer care market requires greater reliance on technology through automation and AI-based technology. While naturally wary of its negative impact on first line revenues, technology has emerged as a blessing in disguise for BPOs. Offering technology-based added value services to customers allows BPOs to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace, create new high margin revenue streams through technology sales, provide an end-to-end solution throughout the customer journey, and ultimately deepen customer reliance on BPO services. The more experience BPOs have with implementing technologies, the more in-demand and attractive they become.
The next step for the visionary customer management BPO leader is to identify the opportunity in their field. Based on their particular domain, customers and use cases, they should identify the technological solutions that are most applicable and are most likely to provide the most value. Then make the necessary investment to become leaders in implementing those technologies.
By taking a leap of faith and leading the market, BPOs can elevate the role of technology into a business enabler and source of competitive advantage, while increasing their footprint, share of wallet, and stickiness with customers.