Why, post-Brexit, optimism for the CEE region is growing with Bulgaria now emerging as one of the top BPO destinations

This article provided by Teletech

It has now been more than a year since the EU referendum in the UK and the post-Brexit future appears to look very optimistic for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

As the Financial Times reported last month; “Nowhere in the world have expectations for growth changed so rapidly and positively as in Central and Eastern Europe.  The consensus forecast for economic growth in the region this year is now 2.5 per cent — 0.3 percentage points higher than four months ago. Expectations for 2018 are even brighter at 2.6 per cent, 0.1 percentage points higher than forecast at the start of the year”.

A recent survey of more than 500 international decision makers, carried out by the multi-national financial services firm, EY, found that the CEE region ranked just behind the U.S. and alongside China in terms of investment attractiveness.

CEE has established itself as a sophisticated BPO market, capturing projects of high value content with unrivalled language capability and cultural advantages.

Kerry Hallard, CEO of the Global Sourcing Association (GSA), said; “In the UK we are a major outsourcing and offshoring nation – Brexit will drive additional opportunities.  UK companies that need access to additional skills will turn to outsourcing and offshoring, and I believe the CEE region could be a big, big winner of that.”

“We are witnessing an outstanding growth and transformation of the call centre outsourcing industry. In scope, scale and complexity, and with a significant shift towards value added and innovative service to make the customer experience better.”

In a recent survey* of contact centre executives from Deloitte, customer experience (88%) and service improvement (73%) are the top priorities for contact centres.

This and post-Brexit optimism for the CEE region make it very exciting times indeed and helps to explain why Bulgaria is now one of the top BPO destinations.

Various sources in the last few years have ranked Bulgaria as one of top locations in the world in terms of attracting direct foreign investments in the outsourcing sector and ranked it, first in Europe.

However, more recently, the BPO Index 2016 ranked Bulgaria as one of the top “pioneering” locations.  Bulgaria is named as a market “generating a lot of interest” and one of the 5 most attractive in the world in terms of conditions, risks and costs, not to mention its proficiency for languages and connectivity.

Bulgaria is recognised as the technology hub of South-East Europe, and has the potential to become the “Silicon Valley” of the BalkansAlexandre Martins, GM & VP EMEA Operations, TeleTech

Peter Ryan, Principal at Ryan Strategic Advisory and says; “We were witnesses to the birth of the Bulgarian BPO market, and since then we have observed its exponential growth every year.  There are ample reasons why Bulgaria is emerging as one of the most interesting delivery points in the European nearshore.  The country’s multilingual labour force cannot be understated, nor can the investment that has been made in key elements of infrastructure.  I have long been of the view that the multiple urban centres in Bulgaria set it apart from so many locations where there is only one point of delivery.  This means a more stable cost base over the long term, which benefits the outsourcers and their clients. Going forward, I have no doubt that Bulgaria will continue to be among the most sought-after countries for European contact centre delivery.”

Source: Ryan Advisory-UK offshore location favourability-Oct 2017

So, what is making Bulgaria a top outsourcing destination?

With its unrivalled multilingual skills, highly educated and motivated workforce, and competitive pricing, Bulgaria is now a first choice for outsourcing customer service and other functions.

Miloslava Grigorova, joined TeleTech in August 2015 as a Blended Tier 1 agent supporting Italian and English speaking customers on behalf of Logitech.  A native Bulgarian, Miloslava speaks four languages including Bulgarian, English, Italian and French, and received the Employee of the Year Award in 2016.

“During my training I fell in love with the Harmony remotes and wanted to gain a deeper knowledge in the product. The transition came naturally to a Tier 2 associate. Since then I’ve been working as a Tier 2 technical support specialist and I’ve been enjoying it since the very first moment”.

Vitor Manuel Cerqueira Magro Lopes decided to move to Bulgaria for a whole new challenge. Of Portuguese decent, Vitor made the leap of faith despite the language and cultural differences.  Having also joined TeleTech as a Tier 1 associate representing Logitech, he speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English.

“When I joined Logitech, I was still not aware that this experience would change me the way it did. I grew as a person, I grew as a professional, as a colleague. I have been here for a little over a year now and I feel more motivated to be a part of this project as the time passes by.  I am extremely happy.”

Why Bulgaria?

From our experience of being one of the first CX outsourcers in Bulgaria we have seen various clients bridge cultural barriers and increase customer satisfaction via the ability to support campaigns in all European languages, significantly lowering operational costs and enhancing the customer experience.  The first call resolution rate is also much higher due to the technical skills our agents have.

Indeed, according to the BPO Index 2016 report everything points to Bulgaria for a company looking for in an outsourcing destination, especially for its connectivity, large talent pool of professionals, a strong educational system that excels in engineering, and a strong presence of multinational companies in the region.

TeleTech’s contact centre in Sofia is a shining example of the demand we are seeing for the region.  Established in 2004, the 950+ seat facility has highly-educated and loyal workforce with an excellent literacy rate of over 98%, supports some 24 languages, and caters for a mix of leading European and Global brands from Communications and Media, Financial Services and Retail industries.

TeleTech’s contact centre in Sofia.

Our wealth of experience and expertise over the 13 years we have been in Bulgaria has shown with attractive prices versus performance, a young motivated and flexible workforce, and a high level of commitment to projects and overall relationships with clients, Bulgaria is interesting both for outsourcing and for investment.

In addition, there is a close cultural affinity and similar mentality to US/Western Europe, and geographically is only a 1-2-hour flight away for most European travellers.

Bulgaria – facts:

  • Bulgaria is one of the LARGEST MARKETS in Central and Eastern Europe
  • ECONOMIC GROWTH in Bulgaria is among the highest in the EU and is forecast to remain similar in 2017 and 2018
  • STABILITY FACTOR in the area: Bulgaria has been a member of EU since 2007
  • 1st in the EU for maximum speed of internet connectivity and 2nd in the EU for high speed broadband adoption
  • Maturity and robust growth of the BPO and contact centre sector, with over 30,000 people employed in the industry
  • Excellent language skills in all major European languages – 45% of the Bulgarian population speaks at least one foreign language, and 85% of student’s study English
  • A highly-qualified, motivated and flexible labour force – 50% of the population holds university degrees
  • A large talent pool with strong aptitude for IT and traditions in the engineering industry
  • Cultural proximity to the Western business world in terms of business attitude and ethics
  • Geographical proximity to Central and Western Europe, and EU member states

Bulgaria – the technology hub of South-East Europe

Bulgaria is an outsourcing destination of choice and is fast establishing its position as home to more offshore and nearshore centres. Considering the recent Brexit announcements and the additional opportunities that this is driving, today it represents a sizeable and differentiating opportunity as a BPO destination, especially for UK brands.

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