Contact center outsourcing, a market valued at somewhere between $78 billion and $81 billion, continues to grow, according to a report from Everest Group. The research also found increased adoption of automation among service providers, a practice that, according to the study, is reducing overall costs and will continue as the technology matures.
Incorporating automation into outsourcing solutions has a number of benefits, according to the study. First, it has led to a reduction of repetitive tasks, allowing agents to focus on solving complex customer problems, as well as bringing down the total cost of ownership. Second, automated text analysis and reply scripts can be sent to customers, reducing average resolution time. Third, automation systems can predict customers’ concerns and solve them before they become problematic. Fourth, by using automated processes to obtain confidential customer information, fraudulent activities decline. Finally, by using virtual agents to respond to queries that involve background analysis, agility can be improved.
The report also identified changes in end user preferences, with businesses demanding multichannel support, self-service, and personalized experiences, as well as prompt and accurate issue resolution. This has led to a shift in focus from cost containment to improving quality, as well as the adoption of a more balanced onshore-nearshore-offshore delivery model, according to the report.
Although this year saw outsourcing mainstays holding their positions, the appearance of new names suggests that other vendors might be exploring new ways to satisfy their customers.
Sitel secured a spot on the leaderboard this year with solid scores in company direction (3.5) and customer satisfaction (3.5), as well as in breadth of services offered (3.6). However, it posted a 3.3 in cost, indicating a need for improvement in that area. Nevertheless, the company last appeared on the leaderboard in 2014, suggesting that it might be back on track.
Last year’s winner, Teleperformance, scored a 3.7 in breadth of services offered this time around and was also solid in company direction and customer satisfaction, with scores of 3.5 and 3.4, respectively. However, these numbers represent a noticeable dip in performance compared to last year, when the company posted a 4.4 in breadth of services, a 4.3 in customer satisfaction, and a 4.1 in company direction. Moreover, Teleperformance had a low score of 3.3 in cost this year. Nevertheless, the company “has a very strong position in the telecom and technology sectors and a growing business with healthcare companies,” according to Ian Jacobs, senior analyst serving application development and delivery professionals at Forrester Research.
After jumping onto the leaderboard last year, TeleTech maintained that position this year, largely on the strength of a 3.8 score in breadth of services. However, although the company earned a 3.9 score in customer satisfaction last year, it managed only a 3.2 this time around. Jacobs notes that the vendor’s “strategic consulting is still expanding.”
Working Solutions, a newcomer to the leaderboard, earned its spot with a strong score in cost (4.0) and good scores in breadth of services (3.5) and customer satisfaction (3.5), though it lagged behind its competitors in company direction (3.0).
Convergys is this year’s winner, with strong scores across the board; the company posted a 3.7 in breadth of services, company direction, and customer satisfaction. The vendor first returned to the leaderboard in 2015, and last year it held that position with a 3.6 in breadth of services and a 3.7 in company direction. According to Jacobs, the company has a “very strong analytics practice” that “augments its wide reach,” and that “continued investment in the data science areas could act as a real differentiator for larger customers.” However, the vendor struggled with cost this year—it had the lowest score on the leaderboard (3.1)—and should look to improve in that area to sustain its success. —Sam Del Rowe
ONE TO WATCH
For the second year running, LiveOps just misses the leaderboard. The vendor, which specializes in the work-at-home model, had strong scores across the board, earning 3.7 in both breadth of services and company direction, as well as solid scores in both customer satisfaction and cost (3.6 and 3.5, respectively). However, as was the case last year, the company faces a significant challenge keeping up with its much larger competitors. Hopefully, its divestiture of LiveOps Cloud, its contact center–as–a–service business (which has since been rebranded as Serenova), will help it maintain focus.
[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, breadth of services, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]