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UK customer service outsourcing rises sharply in 2016

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2nd Aug 2016
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Spending on outsourced customer service has risen sharply in the UK in the first half of 2016, up to £706m from £62m during the equivalent period in 2015.

Research from the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index states the increase is due to the pressures on business to deliver more multichannel support options for customers.

83% of UK customer service outsourcing contracts were multichannel in the first half of 2016, compared to 50% in 2015.

“UK brands are increasingly alive to the fact that it’s no longer acceptable to dictate to customers how and when they should make contact,” says Debra Maxwell, CEO of CRM solutions for Arvato.

“As companies seek to provide a seamless customer journey, outsourcing providers have responded with contact centre models that integrate traditional phone and email support with newer channels, such as web chat, video and social media. Our research shows this is becoming the norm in the UK market, to the benefit of consumers.”

The outsourcing industry grew to £3.91 billion in total in the first six months of 2016, representing a 19% year-on-year rise and seemingly bucking a trend of customer service departments being re-shored.

Expert and director of GRS, Paolo Marcattilj said earlier in the year that many firms were taking to ‘nearshoring’ their service requirements, to ensure their outsourcing was “much ‘nearer-to-final-customer’ and ‘easier-to-manage’ versus far-shoring”.

Despite this, some argue that certain customer service channels shouldn’t be outsourced at all, with an inefficient reliance on telephony services causing resources to be drained in the wrong places.

Data from Dimelo highlights that 77% of all customer service budgets currently go to telephone support despite the demand actually only equating to 22% across all channels.

“I question when a company says they have no budget or little resources to offer round-the-clock social customer service,” consultant and customer experience expert, Michel Falcon told MyCustomer earlier in the year.

“After all, if they have a budget for traditional marketing tactics – ones like print, radio etc. – they have the opportunity to take a portion of their yearly marketing budget to service social channels.

"It really comes down to prioritising your efforts and understanding the opportunity cost of serving your customers in the channels that they want to be served in. A company must speak for themselves and protect the brand with their own resources. After all, no agency is going to care for your brand reputation and customers as much as you do.”    

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