If there is one thing that strikes me as an important factor in delivery of customer experience to US consumers, it is the geographic options available. Over the past 25 years, Americans have been supported by agents as far away as India, the Philippines and South Africa. But as we aim toward a post-pandemic world, it is more important than ever to have alternatives that are both cost-effective and close to home. The reality is, managers of customer experience in the US are going to be looking for more convenient options around where end-users are supported. Outsourcing partners will need to respond in kind, if they are to remain viable over the long-term.
As the operator of an emerging contact center outsourcing company based in Central America, I freely admit that I come to this discussion with a bias. I deliberately set up shop in Honduras to be close to the US, while also enjoying the benefits of a location with good commercial real estate and some of the best English spoken in Latin America. That said, one of the things that I hear frequently from both existing and prospective US clients is that the nearshore simply makes sense, especially in the post-COVID19 era.
Consider distance. Air travel from the US to India or the Philippines could take as much as 24 hours. Even prior to the pandemic, this was not only tedious but it also amounted to a lack of productivity and time spent away from family. Moving forward, the risk of exposure to a virus will be even more pronounced—a gamble that US enterprise executives will seek to avoid. The benefit of CX nearshoring is significantly less travel time, and lower exposure to potentially-infected passengers during short flights. Given that some nearshore destinations are literally over the US border, international air travel could potentially be avoided completely.
Then, there is the changing demography of the US and how the nearshore is in a better position to respond to this dynamic. Realistically, the more traditional offshore locations are not linguistically suited to service the roughly 60-million Americans that count Spanish as their mother tongue. The beauty of the nearshore is access to energetic, bilingual talent that is readily available to service US end-users in either Spanish or English. And they do so to a very high standard, thanks to the cultural affinity that close proximity to the US affords. Nearshore agents devour American media. This yields an intimacy in their interactions with US customers. Cementing end-user loyalty will be essential in the post-pandemic world, so having nearshore delivery will be invaluable to US enterprises.
Finally, there is the issue of value. Supporting American consumers from the nearshore simply costs less than service delivery from a domestic US facility. But, the cost difference between more traditional offshore delivery spots and the nearshore is not that pronounced. Granted, the nearshore is a large region, and some countries will be more expensive than others. But, clients of outsourcers that have contact centers in emerging nearshore points of delivery with agents of high quality see the ROI very quickly. Interaction quality and lower costs with nearshore delivery are just too compelling to ignore. With CX budgets likely to be tighter than ever in the post-pandemic world, this value cannot be beat.