Predicting the future of the call center industry is no easy feat – it’s a complex and ever-evolving landscape.
At Outsource Consultants, we’re committed to providing informed insights, leveraging our experience with over 500 global BPO partners across various industries. This breadth of data gives us a unique vantage point to assess and anticipate changes in the industry.
Let’s start by revisiting our 2023 predictions, categorizing them as:
- Mostly Right: Pretty close, with a few minor misses.
- Half and Half: A mix of hits and misses.
- Mostly Wrong: We missed the mark, but not entirely.
- Dead Wrong: Well, nobody’s perfect.
Building on these reflections, we’re also ready to detail our 2024 predictions. Our insights draw from current trends, emerging technologies, and the changing needs of businesses and customers.
Let’s grade our 2023 predictions before unveiling our anticipated trends for the BPO industry in 2024.
Grading our 2023 BPO Industry Predictions
Prediction: Agent Morale is 2023’s Top Priority
In late 2022, we heard from new clients that a key concern for 2023 was partnering with BPO vendors adept at managing rising attrition rates. The call center industry was grappling with high turnover and absenteeism, prompting a shift towards prioritizing agent stability and morale. This change in focus led clients to make decisions increasingly based on agent satisfaction levels.
Both our client and BPO success teams focused consultations on how to improve work environments for agents, and, ultimately, the customers they served. Many juggled the challenge of maintaining existing morale while migrating more agents back to the office; while others simply wanted to ensure their agents stayed engaged.
Outcome: Spot On
Agent burnout was rampant in call centers throughout 2023, with 32% of centers not actively monitoring for it. In 2024, choosing BPO partners with proven records in agent satisfaction will be crucial for enhancing customer experience and agent proficiency, as satisfied agents tend to stay longer and provide better service.
Prediction: LATAM BPOs to Face Dual Challenges in 2023
We predicted that Latin American BPOs would confront a dual challenge: distinguishing themselves in a competitive nearshore market while managing profitability amid rising costs. The balancing act of innovating to attract and retain clients and streamlining to cut costs seemed inevitable given the uncertain market conditions.
Outcome: Mostly Right
This prediction largely played out as expected. BPOs often had to prioritize either cost reduction or quality service, depending on client needs.
However, this impact was less obvious across existing client-vendor relationships than we might’ve expected.
We attributed much of this success to the compounding effects of an established partnership. Often these existing relationships made pricing conversations easier because trust and an ongoing success were well established.
Prediction: Eastern European Call Centers to Offer Competitive Pricing
Despite the challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we foresaw Eastern European call centers working hard to reassure partners of their security and reliability.
We expected these centers to adjust their pricing to remain competitive with other nearshore options.
Outcome: Half and Half
For standard outsourcing services, Eastern European call centers displayed a pricing trend with some fluctuations, slightly higher than nearshore counterparts. While there was a noticeable price adjustment across the region, showing steadily decreasing hourly rates since 2020, Eastern European call centers did not fully bridge the gap between their nearshore counterparts.
It’s important to note, however, Eastern European call centers are often priced to support speciality languages and high-demand FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish), so cost considerations must be judged according to language needs.
Prediction: Rising Costs in Mexican Call Centers
We projected a noticeable uptick in operational expenses for Mexican call centers in 2023, anticipating higher costs to significantly impact their financial landscape.
Outcome: Half and Half
While our prediction of rising costs was correct, the actual inflation rate exceeded our expectations, growing more rapidly than we had anticipated. This outcome highlights the intricacies of economic forecasting and the ever-changing nature of global market conditions.
Tackling 2024: This Year’s BPO Industry Predictions
Prediction: Technology Investment Soars in Response to Labor Cost Savings
Why? In 2024, expect a strategic redirection of labor cost savings toward technology within the BPO industry. Forrester data shows that 68% of call center leaders aim to boost CX-led initiatives, and 59% are eyeing tech investments.
This isn’t just about saving money; it’s a decisive move to embrace AI and automation, enhancing customer experience through technological prowess.
Prediction: Kenya to Overtake South Africa as Africa’s Top Outsourcing Hub
Why? Africa’s BPO sector is accelerating, particularly in North America. While South Africa remains a key player, Kenya is poised to take the lead in 2024.
The reason? A compelling mix of price, performance, and ROI. Kenya’s emergence as the continent’s top outsourcing destination signifies a dynamic shift in the global outsourcing landscape.
Prediction: AI Falters in Mastering Agent Occupancy
Why? AI’s prowess in call centers is undeniable, but when it comes to the nuanced realm of agent occupancy, it’s still finding its feet.
Sure, it’s revolutionizing metrics like Average Handle Time and First Call Resolution, but the unpredictable nature of human interactions presents a unique challenge.
In 2024, expect AI to enhance various call center operations, but the art of perfectly balancing agent workloads? That remains a distinctly human domain. The live agent isn’t going anywhere – AI’s role is to augment, not replace, the human touch in these complex scenarios.
Prediction: The Rapid Shift from IVR to IVA Powered by AI
Why? 2024 will witness a dramatic transition from traditional IVR to AI-driven IVAs. These advanced systems offer dynamic, human-like interactions, transforming customer experiences across industries. From telecom to airlines, IVAs are setting a new standard in customer service, combining efficiency with personalized care.
2024 is the year when IVAs become the new norm, offering an experience so superior and intuitive that traditional IVR systems may seem archaic.
Prediction: English Fluency Challenges for Nearshore BPOs
Why? The nearshore BPO landscape is becoming more competitive, and a notable challenge is emerging: English fluency among agents.
As AI solutions take over certain roles, nearshore centers face a crucial decision: enhance English skills or risk losing ground in an evolving market that demands both technological aptitude and language proficiency.
2024 could be the year when English proficiency becomes the deciding factor in the survival and success of nearshore BPOs in the competitive global market.
Prediction: Political Call Centers Confront the Self-Service Trend
Why? The 2024 elections will push political call centers into uncharted territory. As younger voters demand self-service options, these centers face a pivotal challenge: evolve or risk irrelevance.
This dramatic shift towards digital self-service could fundamentally alter the landscape of political engagement, making traditional methods obsolete for a significant portion of the electorate.
What does call center self-service in 2024 look like in practice? Here are just a few likely use cases:
- Seamless Access to Election Info: Automated systems like IVR and chatbots to give voters access to crucial information about candidates, policies, and voting procedures.
- Voter Registration and Updates: Self-service portals to streamline voter registration, making it easier for voters to register, update details, or change affiliations. This simplicity can help boost voter participation, particularly among younger demographics.
- Feedback and Surveys: Automate survey systems that are essential for supplying political campaigns with valuable insights that influence campaign strategies and policy-making.
Navigating 2024’s BPO Challenges with Expert Partners
In the ever-evolving world of BPO and call centers, 2024 presents both challenges and opportunities.
If you’re looking for insights or wondering how these changes might impact your business, we’re here to help. At Outsource Consultants, we connect you with experienced BPO vendors who are adept at navigating these shifts. We’ll even give you a free cost analysis to guide you through 2024, helping you select the right partners and strategies for 2024 success.