As 2022 beckons trepidation and optimism with the pandemic entering its third calendar year, CX actors must plan for what lies ahead. From a contact center management perspective, the coming 12 months could have in store many possible impacts. But, armed with no reliable fortune teller to hand, Ryan Strategic Advisory throws caution to the wind and forecasts five possible customer experience developments for the next 51 weeks. These predictions are based on anecdotal feedback, data trends collected in the past few months, and nearly two decades following the industry. They stand as a basis for debate for those interested in CX’s evolution through the coming 4 quarters. Thus, in no particular order….
- Mega-vendor consolidation defines M&A activity in 2022 – despite the pandemic, outsourcers were eager to buy in 2021. Webhelp’s purchase of Latin American powerhouse OneLink and Sitel’s acquisition of Sykes were among the biggest deals. In 2022, watch for large-scale M&As to continue as global outsourcers seek not only a defensive position against competitors, but also to ensure their ongoing relevance in the eyes of enterprise CX buyers. Out of sight, out of mind is a status no outsourcer wants in the hyper-competitive third-party services world in 2022.
- AI–driven automation takes on new life – the great resignation entails one of the toughest labor markets for employers… ever. Automated solutions that are empowered with the latest artificial intelligence offer a partial solution. With consumers steadily shifting to non-voice channels, finding technology that resolves basic interactions and handles more complex queries will be a priority for enterprise and outsourced contact centers in 2022. These solutions must also be equipped to learn from previous interactions to show continuous improvement in the line of fire with end-users. The race for talent shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon, and hence taking on front-line CX interfaces that go above and beyond will be paramount.
- South Africa, Egypt and Jamaica compete for 2022’s most-favored offshore CX delivery destination… Ryan Strategic Advisory anticipates a three-way battle for the coveted most-favored offshore delivery location in 2022. South Africa, the 2021 incumbent, retains significant value in the eyes of buyers. Notwithstanding societal upheavals 6 months ago in two South African cities, ongoing CX activity suggests that country is as effervescent as ever. However, Egypt (4th place last year) has upped its promotional efforts in key buying markets, with a value proposition based on multilingualism, quality, and scalability. Not to be outdone, Jamaica has managed to attract significant high-profile CX investment in the past several months, which includes Ventrica, Transparent BPO and Iterum Connections. It is notable that many of these providers are targeting the UK as a sourcing market for Jamaican service delivery. South Africa, Egypt and Jamaica are at the top of their respective CX games, with each having a strong shot at the #1 spot in 2022.
- … but Central & Eastern Europe will be 2022’s most coveted CX delivery region – outsourcers and their clients are desperate for affordable and quality-driven CX management destinations. Emerging locations must also be multilingual. It is for this reason that the upstart jurisdictions of Central & Eastern Europe, including (but not limited to) Croatia, Georgia, Serbia and Slovenia are poised to become offshoring success stories in 2022. Though not as scalable as more distant offshore points (or regional competitors such as Poland), these countries offer BPOs and their clients value-added functionality, high-quality talent, and increasingly pro-business commercial operating environments. And this demand will not only come out of Western Europe; watch for North American outsourcers to also make inroads in the region.
- Content moderation becomes a key BPO differentiator – one of the most interesting trends in 2021 was the need for enterprise CX managers to manage a rising level of consumer anger. Much of this has been directed through social media, causing considerable pressure on the front-line workers subjected to various abuses. As noted in a recent article by Ryan Strategic Advisory analyst Sean Goforth, mental health pressures are leading many firms to find social media expertise in the BPO community. Not only can this improve interaction delivery, but BPOs can work to maintain employee morale and avoid burnout. Watch for outsourcers to increase their capabilities and promotion around content moderation and trust & safety management in the coming 12 months.