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By Alfredo Atanacio, Co-Founder of UassistME.COM, on Inc. 30 Under 30 2012, and an AGLN Fellow.
In 2021, there is no denying that there were plenty of disruptions for people-intensive industries. The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector was not spared from this. However, many forward-thinking BPO organizations have managed to turn this period of disruption into an opportunity to evaluate and reinvent themselves, allowing them to be future-proof and resilient. This makes you wonder, what types of changes can you expect to happen for the BPO industry in 2022? Based on my 12 years of experience in the BPO industry, I will provide my top predictions of what we can expect this year.
Prediction No. 1: Remote And Cloud-Based Call Centers
Because of the pandemic, many on-site call center locations have shifted to a fully remote setup in an effort to help keep their employees safe while still being able to cater to their clients. As the situation becomes better, call center agents are gradually easing back to the offices.
However, a survey to employees showed that 58% of respondents report preferring to be full-time remote, while 39% of respondents said they want a hybrid work environment. These statistics reveal that the majority of BPO call center employees likely prefer a flexible work environment. Because of this, BPO call center companies are expected to listen and make necessary adjustments in 2022.
BPO call centers have faced challenges when having their team fully remote, because the change has required ongoing planning and preparation. Most importantly, companies must be up to speed looking for innovative remote team management applications to find the best cloud-based tool that will help them optimize their operations and provide the best service to their clients.
In my opinion, shifting to either a fully remote or hybrid work setup can significantly benefit the company as well. Providing employees with their preferred work setup, whether it’s fully remote or hybrid, will help lessen turnover rates. At the same time, it can also lessen business operation expenses such as office rent and electricity bills that can help reduce the overall bottom line of the business.
Prediction No. 2: A Latin America BPO Boom
In the past, when you think of booming BPO industries, you might automatically think of Asian countries such as China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. This is why the majority of the BPO market is in Asia. But, for the past couple of years, Latin America has been gaining ground and positioning itself as a great place to outsource.
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One of the reasons why there’s plenty of interest in the BPO industries in Latin America now is because of internal domestic growth. That part of the world has always been known for its comparatively affordable labor costs, proximity to and compatible timezone with the U.S., cultural fit and good English language skills.
Before, labor arbitrage and rule-based transactions did not really have much value, but things are now changing. This is because many organizations are much more strategic when it comes to their outsourcing efforts, thus helping Latin American BPO to rise in popularity.
Prediction No. 3: Increased Demand For Bilingual (English/Spanish) Virtual Assistants
The majority of the careers in demand in the BPO industry are contact centers and software developers. As more BPOs open in 2022, there will also be a steady demand for these careers. However, it is expected that there will also be more demand for bilingual (English/Spanish) assistants.
Virtual assistants specialize in offering remote administrative services. Most of their tasks include making phone calls, scheduling appointments, managing email accounts and making travel arrangements. Bilingual assistants, in particular, are virtual assistants who can speak more than one language. In Latin America, most of the time, this means English and Spanish. With the growing Hispanic population in the U.S., this is very valuable to businesses in America. They can reach the Hispanic audience living in the U.S. and also expand their businesses to Latin America.
The demand for bilingual virtual assistants is expected to grow because organizations and people need affordable business services. At the same time, given that the world is now globalized, a virtual assistant who is able to speak two or more languages is more desirable.
There you have it; those are some of the predictions about the BPO industry for 2022. Most of these predictions show that there might be new emerging markets and players in the game. At the same time, it is safe to say that this industry is also expected to adopt a lot of changes to continue to be resilient despite the unprecedented problems that the world is currently facing.
At the end of the day, nobody really knows what will happen in the future, so the best thing to do is to define your target audience and mold your operations to serve them as efficiently and as effectively as possible.
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