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January 2009 | Volume 27 / Number 8
From The Analysts Desk

Report Finds Continuity Planning Important Trend for Top Performing Contact Centers

By Susan J. Campbell,
Contributing Editor, Customer Interaction Solutions

Contact center leaders often have more on their plates than most. Not only do these professionals have to ensure that their companies or divisions perform effectively, they also must do so within reduced budgets and cater to a consumer base that may or may not be interested in pleasant interactions.

One thing the contact center has very much in common with that of other businesses is the need to establish a business continuity plan. According to a recent Dimension Data report, such planning is the second top trend among forward-thinking contact center IT professionals. At the same time, many centers still have not prepared for system failures.

“Contact center productivity decreases by approximately 11% for every hour that real-time reporting is not available. In addition, service levels are significantly compromised when reporting systems go dark,” said Tom Hubbard, CEO of Inova Solutions, in a company statement. Inova Solutions (News - Alert) is a contact center real-time reporting company.

“Call center professionals must be educated on mission-critical technology and high-availability solutions before there is a problem.”

Responding after the fact can often result in poor service delivery for the customer, high stress situations for agents and overall loss of productivity and downtime. Customers and agents can be lost in the mess, yet all could easily be prevented.

Report Shows Strong Growth Anticipated in Caribbean Contact Center Market

The worldwide contact center industry will be interesting to watch over the next few years as the dynamics are sure to change dramatically. While domestic companies once turned to offshore outsourcing to reduce the cost of customer service in order to strengthen profit margins, this outsourcing is now a move to try and stay in business.

Not all companies are finding that moving customer service operations offshore is a viable or financially sound move. Many companies have made the move back to the U.S. with their customer service divisions simply because the indirect cost of creating frustrated customers was offsetting the promised financial gains from operating in a lower cost region.

This is not to say that every offshore location will deliver less than excellent service for domestic companies. Many offshore contact centers can in fact deliver better service than their U.S. counterparts. Dissatisfaction is instead often born of the impression that offshore support creates in the mind of the consumer — creating a less than satisfactory experience, no matter the quality of service.

For many domestic companies who have found that offshoring to the other side of the world to be out of their bounds of their progressive strategies, another trend is emerging — that of nearshoring their customer service operations. According to a new report, the Caribbean is one area of keen interest.

The Caribbean Contact Center & BPO Report 2008-2010 is a newly updated report published on the Caribbean region by the Zagada Institute. This report shows that the Caribbean agent positions now number roughly 66,000 and is expected to exceed 101,000 by 2010.

The report also indicated that just over 90 percent of this growth is a result of service suppliers fulfilling projects for Fortune 1000 and large U.S. corporations. The report provides significant detail to show the factors driving the high level of satisfaction that U.S. corporate customers and their clients are reportedly receiving from Caribbean vendors across regional markets. The concept of nearshoring is gaining more and more attention as it can provide many of the same benefits that are offered by offshore locations, yet provides a closer proximity to corporate headquarters. This geographic consideration creates a perception of greater control over operations — whether it is actually true or not — and helps to drive satisfaction for the corporation.

As the economic situation continues to deteriorate, it is unclear as to the direction of the global contact center industry. One thing is for certain, companies that are able to survive will need to continue to support their customers and will need to do so as cost effectively as possible. For many, offshoring or nearshoring provides the logical answer.

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