An April 2020 Deloitte poll found that 32% of businesses believe the end of the pandemic will bring with it a reduction in outsourcing. Deloitte says that this may be due to the inflexibility -- perceived or real -- of hard contract terms imposed in response to the sudden changes that the crisis presented. Might this portend the long-anticipated BPO industry disruption?
The pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst of rapid transformation of the traditional BPO model. Business flexibility and agility are required to help organizations respond effectively to the ongoing global pandemic, and partnering those with the correct strategies can help businesses get back on the right track.
“Our ability to source, recruit, hire, train, engage and performance manage a large workforce globally in a work at home environment has turned out to be a real competitive advantage and we think it will continue to be going forward,” says Dave Palmer, Everise President.
Everise has long had innovation and transformation in our DNA, but for the entire industry to survive, there will need to be a broader mastery of these emerging trends.
1. Invest in new types of training and development programs.
When not located near one another, agents and supervisors tend to suffer from a gap in their respective perceptions of performance. This both negatively impacts KPIs and job satisfaction. BPOs need to invest in better remote training and supervision technologies able to bridge this gap.
A prime example where training needs to evolve is in the area of product support, which ideally allows agents extensive hands-on experience with the client's hardware -- both during training and beyond. This is simple in brick and mortar settings, but much more challenging for remote workers. Reinventing how employees train and achieve product depth requires investing in innovative recruitment and retention strategies.
2. Strong internal IT support is critical.
According to a survey of over 4,000 remote workers by 5th Talent, the top three challenges employees have with remote work are all related to technology support. Specifically, they cited that it was more difficult to get IT assistance with computer and system troubleshooting.
A related risk is that of data security. Cisco reports that nearly six percent of employees admitted to transferring files between work and personal computers when working from home. This practice can put a company's data at risk and create significant losses. Strong internal IT support can help companies monitor and support their remote workforce as well as implement secure work systems and protocols.
"Something many business may not have considered since moving remotely is the need to endow home-based work with the same level of data security inherent to centralized workplaces," Peter Butler told Parks Associates leading up to the Connections Summit. "This has sparked a need for smart monitoring able to programmatically prevent unauthorized actions – such as manually capturing on-screen data or allowing unauthorized individuals (often residents of the same home where the work is being done) from glimpsing such info," he added.
3. Robust agent monitoring and stringent consumer data protection compliance will play a central role in remote work moving forward.
In their report, Deloitte cautioned that, “being ’forced’ to allow their outsourced delivery team to work from home during the pandemic, clients had to make rapid decisions on highly important and sensitive topics such as security, data privacy as well as service obligations, without having full visibility of the impact of these decisions."
The move to remote work will require a harsh data security reckoning as partners are evaluated based on their ability to demonstrate:
- Compatibility of a solution across systems and devices;
- Flexibility of the solution to cater to various and bespoke alert workflows;
- Accountability of the solution to detect various non-compliant objects and people in the remote environment; and,
- Balance of the solution to cater to data privacy considerations of both the customer and the agent.
Providing a remote workforce with data security strategies and unobtrusive agent monitoring tools, like Smart Secure, can ensure that sensitive company and consumer data is always protected no matter where it’s accessed. It also promotes accountability among remote workers when accessing these data.
4. Work-at-Home is not a business continuity plan, it's here to stay.
Dave Nevogt, CEO of Hubstaff said, "Businesses are continuing to embrace at least some form of remote work, likely because they've experienced the benefits of greater productivity, less wasted time, and lower overhead firsthand."
Before the pandemic, 80% of BPOs had less than a tenth of their workforce in a home-based model. Financial services firm Baird claims that number has flipped in the current BPO landscape. In order to comply with safety regulations and promote employee safety, companies have adapted work-at-home strategies which will likely be the new normal for a long time.
According to 5th Talent, 46% of agents would prefer to work full time at home, while 94% would prefer to have some blend between the office and home. Either way, the mandate for an ongoing home-based option is clear. They also reported that work-at-home improved agent performance.
Business Insider Interviewed Everise Founder and CEO, Sudhir Agarwal, on this very topic, where shared these four trends and insights into how it has benefited employees and partners alike.
“We found that employee retention and the efficiency of employees is significantly higher when in the work-at-home environment. This translates to more experienced, better-trained agents, who improve customer satisfaction metrics. Together, these factors have aided our ability to increase employee experience as well as improve delivery and satisfaction for our clients. It is evident that the future of work lies in hybrid working environments"
Investing in a remote work culture ensures employees and companies alike not merely survive, but thrive. Everise made investments in remote work technology early on. In 2018, we launched our Home Experience solution, and have a strong foundation for which to continue growing our remote work solution.