Offshore outsourcing grinds to a halt as UK gets serious about service

16th Feb 2015

It’s official: UK businesses have shifted the goals posts in terms of the value they place on the call centre and the importance of customer service.

Not only did a number of high-profile UK brands repatriate their contact centres in 2014, but according to new data from arvato UK, just 8% of outsourcing contracts signed by British firms went offshore across the year too.  

The UK Quarterly Outsourcing Index, an in-depth examination of outsourcing practices in the UK, found the revived demand for repatriation and UK outsourcing was due to a “growing demand for multichannel customer services”, which was a common thread in 62% of contracts in 2014 compared with 40% in 2013.  

The report also found there were £238 million of new CRM contracts across public and private sectors in 2014.

Debra Maxwell, managing director of arvato UK, said: “Outsourcing has mistakenly become synonymous with offshoring, yet our research demonstrates that UK delivery is continuing to play a fundamental role in the industry as customer requirements become more sophisticated.

“This sophistication is perhaps most easily recognised in the field of customer services. Traditionally typified by voice and email communication, in 2014 it became the norm for these functions to be integrated with more sophisticated digital services like web chat and social media management.

“Offshoring will always have a role to play in meeting certain business’ needs but the demand for more sophisticated solutions, combined with salary inflation in traditional offshore locations, means UK-based delivery is set to continue to dominate.”

The need for more multichannel customer service control was summed up by recent data from Business Systems that showed that social media enquiries within contact centres are set to account for up to 11.5% of customer service interactions this year.

Web chat functionality is also on the radar of most contact centres, with 32% of customer service professionals ranking live chat as the most desirable solution requirement for their contact centre this year.

BT’s customer experience futurologist, Dr. Nicola Millard, stated last year that the rise of such non-traditional channels would eventually mean businesses would have no choice but to place call centres at the centre of their organisational processes.

“A lot of businesses are beginning to realise that the contact centre causes discussion as to whether it should be reinvented as the ‘relationship hub’,” she said.

“There is an acknowledgement that it’s becoming the beating heart of the organisation. It’s where all that critical communication from customers comes in; and everything that is coming through this hub has content in it that tells a business what customers are thinking about, what they’re feeling, what’s working, what isn’t. Managers and senior executives will certainly be spending the next few years focusing on how they can adapt the role of the contact centre and the importance placed upon it.”

Based on arvato UK’s latest research, it appears British firms are beginning to fulfill Dr. Millard’s prophecy.

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