Archive for February, 2013


The Philippines was considered the new frontier of high quality off shore contact center support operations, and for the most part it was.  It did not have the extreme accent India brought to the table, and found a culture that LOVED the U.S. and all our craziness.  But, with that love of our culture has also sped up the pace of the formation of a middle class in the Philippines, specifically Manila.

It may sound odd, but the middle class formation and growth is the kiss of death for call centers in countries like the Philippines.  The reason is that people begin to want more, and when a center is willing to pay $.10 – $.15 more they jump ship, many times still during training.  In the last six months I have heard from countless consultants and client’s beginning to complain seriously about the attrition levels in training and post training they are beginning to experience in their Manila sites.

These drastic increases in attrition has opened up some huge opportunities for other parts of the world, specifically in Latin America, the Caribbean, South Africa and yes even the U.S.A.  Many organizations like Discover Card, have decided to stop playing with the offshore model and bring it all home to the U.S.  This has allowed them to produce a HUGE marketing blitz technique, that looking at their stock prices seems to be working.  But, for some companies U.S. labor rates are just not possible to work inside of.  For these organizations I have been seeing an extremely growing interest into Latin America and the Caribbean, where labor markets are extremely plentiful and cost is very low relative to the U.S.

So what does this mean for the call center market as we look forward into 2013 and 2014?  In my opinion we are going to see one major shift, and one subtle, but impactful shift.

Major Shift:

Organizations are beginning to separate out different lines of communications between multiple carriers.  Many times this is being done strategically so they can place non-verbal support (Email, Web-Cat, SMS, etc…) in countries with great English grammar and technical abilities, but accent issues for the U.S. market (a.k.a. – India).  I see this trend growing, and you will begin to see countries like India get a resurgence of BPO once again, but not with voice support but non-verbal support.  As for the verbal support I see this beginning to move back to the country of origin, or to a near-shore support model, depending on budget availability for verbal support.

This shift will be a great opportunity for companies that have support centers in multiple countries, and the management abilities to control a program worldwide.  This way their client can take advantage of the specialization of the country and the labor costs, but not have to deal with managing multiple vendors.  But, as we know the list of companies who can support this environment is limited, and many organizations steer clear of them.  This then leads me to subtle, but impactful shift.

Subtle, But Impactful Shift:

One of my favorite sayings used to be, “No one ever got fired for hiring/buying IBM.”  In the call center market you could replace IBM with Convergys, West, Aegis, Stream, or a few other global juggernauts of the call center market.  But, looking forward I can see this saying, like in the IT world beginning to break down.  These companies do offer a great international support solution to their customers, but what they miss is the ability to be “boutique.”

In an era of customer service departments beginning to take on a look of marketing, IT, customer service and help desk; the old models are beginning to become extinct.  Today companies want a contact center that cannot just support their client’s but become their company and culture.  As any BPO executive knows this is MUCH harder than it may sound.  To take on a culture, you must have a culture in your organization that allows for sub-cultures to be introduced and allowed to grow.  This is something many of the big BPO companies have not been able to master, and honestly may never be able to.

So the subtle switch I see coming quickly is the introduction of the new IBM approach.  LOL!  I even chuckled when I had to write it, but it is true.  IBM a few years back finally realized that they really are not the experts at everything, and that there are people and companies who do things better than they do.  So their approach has become to focus on what they are best at, and to bring in other organizations that are even better at other aspects of the project to help.  What this means to the BPO market is the introduction of contact center management companies who can piece together and manage multiple centers for client’s to build the ultimate solution.

Just imagine the ability to run your DRTV program with a DRTV specialty center near shore, your web chat and email with a center in India or the Philippines, technical support through a boutique specialty center in the U.S. with escalation in India and finally customer service in a center in the U.S. and near shore to keep costs down, but provided that next level support.  Now imagine all this being managed by one company for you, so rather than making 5 – 6 calls to vendors you just make one.  This is the future in my opinion, and something we are already starting to see take place.

To Your Success & Prosperity!

Originally Published on Creative Business Mind Blog

Image Courtesy of http://www.SuperStock.com

Top sales executives will tell you that the reason they are successful is because while they are hunting their next big deal (Whale Hunting), they do not forget to continue to pick up the small accounts (Fish) along the way.  This practice is very well laid out in a book by Tom Searcy appropriately titled, Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company.  In it he explains how the mixture of small deals and large whales is how you build stability in your organization and make sure your hunters stay fed while on the hunt.

 

These practices are typically well understood by sales executives, but all to often lost on many business leaders.  What happens is a company will land one or two whales, then they get complacent or sometimes worse, get super picky about the deals they will take on going forward.  Now, I am not saying you should not be selective of the business you take on, but it is a fine balancing act that you must be ever evaluating to make sure it is inline with the continued success of your sales team and overall organization.  

 

Unfortunately many business leaders realize their need to readjust their threshold for new business to late, and watch their top sales performers move on to another company or find out that one of the fish they turned away became a baby whales for a competitor.   Both scenarios hurting their organization, because they stopped allowing their team to fish while they were on the hunt.

 

Remember fishing is like practice for the big hunt.  It sharpens the spears and skills of your sales executives so when a whales comes along your sales executive has the sharped tools and practice to drive their harpoon into the whale and make sure it sticks.  Without that practice their tools may get dull and their skills weak, so when they go for the close they miss and your team loses the whale.

 

So as your team begins to sit down to review Q1 sales results and look to Q2 and beyond.  If you see your top performers not being consistent with deals, you need to evaluate how much business you have refused.  If it is more than 1 or 2 deals, you may need to sit down and revaluate your threshold for new business so you are not missing those chances for your team to practice closing, or those future baby whales that look like fish.

 

To Your Success & Prosperity!

This article was originally featured on http://creativebusinessmind.blogspot.com/2013/02/remember-to-fish-while-you-whale-hunt.html