Companies have been outsourcing their call centers for decades to lower costs, increase productivity, and enable scaled-up customer support during peak times. It is so prevalent in the call center space that the term “Business process outsourcing” (BPO) is often used interchangeably with “outsourced call center.” In the last few years, the call center outsourcing industry has seen revenues crossing $140 billion. This growth is expected to continue, with Cushman Wakefield predicting 6% yearly growth up to 2020.
At the same time, major changes are impacting BPOs. Firstly, the impact of artificial intelligence is predicted to be extremely disruptive. For example, the outsourcing industry in the Philippines (the country with the most call centers in the world) is worried that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) will eat into the 23 billion-dollar sector. Secondly, in recent years there has been a growth in “reshoring”: Call centers are returning to North America, a trend driven by several factors including low wage inflation and an increased focus on customer experience. Finally, BPOs are weighing up the benefits of adopting a multichannel approach as siloing the different customer service channels becomes taboo.
While BPOs are no strangers to challenging times, the next few years promise to be particularly interesting for outsourced call centers.