CXFiles Podcast: The Road To 2021 And The New Normal

The latest episode of the CX Files podcast features the CEO of Transparent BPO, Scott Newman. Amongst many topics, Scott and I picked up on a theme that has been gaining traction in recent months – the return of multisourcing.

This was a popular topic 5 or 6 years ago. Gartner kept on publishing papers explaining how the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry would work far better if clients could use multiple partners. Some of the BPOs have worked alongside their peers and rivals for many years, but the Gartner message was that this should be normalised and I don’t think that ever really happened.

However, the subject has emerged recently because of Covid-19. As agents are now mostly working from home and smaller BPOs proved to be more agile than their larger cousins, some analysts have been asking if companies should be partnering with a major BPO to provide the backbone of a customer service strategy, but augmenting that backbone with a more agile partner.

I asked Scott what he thought: “Major players in the hospitality space have already adopted that deployment structure. But this was happening before the pandemic. Six or seven years ago, clients were looking for cost savings – that was the only driver. They were often forced to go with a single supplier just to create a master contract and reduce costs.”

Scott added: “But with no challenge or competition there was complacency and a lack of innovation. What happened was that the customer experience was ultimately the area that suffered. I think they realized that it’s not just about cost savings. And now we’ve seen, over the last five or six years, companies run back to onshore and nearshore. Every provider brings something different to the table. They have their own core competencies, and they can provide value. And I think, again, these Champion/Challenger models are healthy when they’re done correctly.”

Scott explained to me that he is now seeing a much stronger focus on partnership. When clients asked multiple BPO suppliers to work together in the past they would often fight over territory and even sabotage tasks allocated to their peers. Everyone was always seen as competition. There is now an acceptance that each partner brings something different to the table and it works better for all the suppliers if they work together.

Looking ahead to 2021, Scott mentioned some of the variables that are making it hard to plan long-term at present: “I know clients have already kind of made their strategies, but how that will actually play out with COVID, and whether the US specifically can get it under control and whether a vaccine comes – I mean, there’s a lot of unknowns at this stage.”

Scott mentioned three important points though and it’s worth recalling them here:

  1. Security needs to be WFH focused: all security standards need to be focused on supporting a widely distributed workforce – this is now a long-term change
  2. Employee experience: new management processes and communication tools need to be deployed as this type of business requires a new approach to both culture and management.
  3. Client behaviour and RFPs: clients will remember who was not agile enough to help them in the 2020 crisis – there will be some really interesting RFPs in the near future

These are some great pointers and thoughts about the BPO road into 2021. You can hear the complete interview with Scott by clicking the link below.

Click here to listen to the latest episode of CX Files, featuring Scott Newman from Transparent BPO or just search for ‘CX Files’ using your favourite podcast app.

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