APAC set for six million contact centre agents
Last year was a good one for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) contact centre market with contact centre seats growing by 8.4 percent – relatively higher than in other regions. A strongly performing domestic contact center outsourcing industry represents the next stage of growth in the region and is poised to keep the market buoyant.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the markets had over 3.7 million agents employed in 2012 and is expected to employ over 6 million agents in 2019.
APAC will continue to experience the highest growth in the global contact centre outsourcing industry, driven by booming domestic markets that are bolstered by increasing demand from the telecommunications and banking and finance (BFS) sectors.
"Historically, offshore revenue has been the key driver of the Asia-Pacific contact centre market, and in 2012 contributed 39.6 percent of the total market. Cost savings, a large and relatively low cost labor pool, strong infrastructure, language proficiency and experience of serving western world customers make many Asia-Pacific locations preferred offshore destinations for contact centre outsourcing for American and European companies," noted Frost & Sullivan Research Manager Krishna Baidya. "A growing focus on quality customer service is, at the same time, resulting in domestic contact centre outsourcing escalating in the region as well."
"Demand from local Asian economies is expected to have a high impact during the entire forecast period. Rural BPO is getting attention and offering a viable option to pursue, especially while serving domestic customers," Baidya elaborated further.
Customer service enhancement received greater attention in 2012. Contact centres across the region have increasingly started to leverage the available technology and new business models to gain better operational efficiency and cost advantages. Capital investments on improving agents' interpersonal skills and domain knowledge registered an increase in recognition of the fact that professionally skilled and experienced agents are valuable assets for enterprises.
"The contact centre service segment, including consulting, implementation, management and agents' training services, has become important for vendors and system integrators," remarked Baidya. "More professional agents are set to be recruited and trained in the future to enhance the overall service quality of contact centres."
While being preferred contact centre outsourcing destination meant good news, some concerns – including market saturation, anti-offshoring outlook in many countries, and emergence of alternative locations, increasing attrition rate resulting in swelling costs as well as concerns of quality of services – still remain.
"Traditional third-party outsourcing relationships based on cost and labor arbitrages have become passé," concluded Baidya. "Providing customer service at a lower cost simply won't win more wallet share or new customers anymore. End-to-end support and overall value proposition to customer's business will be key in nurturing customer and provider relationship going forward."
Value Creation For Customers Drives Growth Of Contact Centre Outsourcing In APAC
In 2013, call volumes and top-line revenues in the contact centre outsourcing market is expected to gain further momentum in Asia-Pacific as need for customer services reaches new level. The region continues to be the most attractive destination for contact centre outsourcing.
At the end of 2012, the Asia-Pacific contact centre outsourcing market registered near double digit growth and is expected to generate nearly U$33.0 billion in revenue by 2018, registering a CAGR of a 9.9 percent during the period. Six millij agents by 2019
"Historically, offshore revenue has been the key driver of the Asia-Pacific contact centre market, and in 2012 contributed 39.6 percent of the total revenue. Cost savings, solid infrastructure, and language proficiency make many Asia Pacific locations preferred as offshore destinations for contact center outsourcing," said Krishna Baidya, Research Manager for ICT, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific.
Contact centre outsourcing will continue to expand and grow in the foreseeable future as organisations focus on their core competencies as well as the increased attractiveness of multi-year contracts with experienced outsourcing companies that can deliver exceptional service levels at a lower cost.
"In addition, the fact that companies today seek out workforce solutions that can expand and contract in relation to business objectives and client call volumes will drive the contact centre outsourcing industry," Krishna continued. "Increased client acceptance and trust in utilising near shore and offshore agent resources for customer care outsourcing is also a driving factor."
While phone-live agent continues to be the primary customer contact channel for most verticals, Frost & Sullivan sees robust growth rates for the social media channel, the SMS channel, and the chat channel in the near to medium term.
"As part of Proactive customer care (PCC), we are likely to see significant growth of automated outbound notifications in the near future," said Krishna. "Outsourcers will focus more to offer clients ‘blended' delivery models using a combination of onshore, near shore, offshore, home agents and automated customer contact capacity and technologies."
The nature of the relationship between customer and provider becomes even more important today because consumer expectations for excellent service delivery are extremely high, regardless of the vertical segment. Clients are constantly re-assessing contact centre priorities in order to stay in tune with the market and remain competitive.
Krishna added, "Traditional third-party outsourcing relationships based on cost and labour arbitrage have become passé. It's our belief that providing customer service at a cheaper rate simply won't win more wallet share or new logos anymore. It's a value-add proposition that is going to keep the relationship alive."