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Contact Center Risk Management Starts with Location Diversification

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the world in which we live is a pretty unstable place.  Whether it be politically, economically, or related to public security, a lot of things going on right now are causing uncertainty.  The impact that this can have on contact center operations should not be underestimated.  This is why I want to discuss what enterprises and vendors need to consider when developing the right offshore delivery strategy.  My personal experience tells me that to have the right plan in place is essential to optimizing resource management and end-user satisfaction.

As I write this, Catalonia has just unilaterally declared independence from Spain, threatening huge levels of uncertainty across southern Europe.  This comes in the wake of ongoing concerns about Brexit, which will conclude in roughly eighteen months. Constant tensions around dynamics in the Middle East and the mess that has become Venezuela are just a few other sources of instability.  The contact center sector has not been without its own challenges, either.  Just think back to the Arab Spring, which hit Egypt and Tunisia, two of the largest offshore delivery locations in EMEA.  And what about worries surrounding the never-ending  drug-fueled violence in Mexico, or the changes in the Philippines’ political environment?  Combined, these are enough to make cautious executives consider keeping everything related to contact center delivery onshore.

As a practical matter though, this is not an option. When taking into account the current low rate of US unemployment, high levels of contact center attrition, and escalating costs around property and labor, realistic CRM managers know that there is a clear need to seek alternative delivery in the nearshore or offshore markets.  They also understand that not every country that provides overseas contact center delivery is experiencing instability.

In my experience, the key to getting the offshore delivery equation right is diversification.  Like a wise stock broker that advises clients to have a balanced investment portfolio, any outsourcer worth their salt will counsel their enterprise partners to decentralize their capacity across multiple sites.  So, if something flares up in one location, work can seamlessly be transferred to another delivery point.  The end result is minimal business disruption, which enhances customer loyalty.

Enterprise contact center executives need to consider a number of factors in location diversification.  They need to first decide if they have the geographic reach to diversify their contact center delivery in-house.  If not, the question then becomes how can this be accomplished.  And while there is some potential to use automation, these solutions are still very young, and will only be applicable to a small number of interactions.  The key is to find a partner that has the portfolio of locations that will provide the right volume of agents, languages, and skills across delivery points. The provider needs to have risk mitigation strategies in place in order to make sure that the enterprise is not adversely impacted in the event of disruption. Taking a strategic approach that leverages different delivery centers and quality third-party partners makes geographic risk management a lot easier.

Written by Stephen B. Ferber