Over the past two decades, many Australian organisations have formed a large dependency on offshore contact centres mostly due to the fact that staffing costs are significantly lower than hiring staff in Australia. When the pandemic hit last year however some organisations such as Westpac and Telstra, decided to move some of their voice channels back on shore to mitigate risk.

As many countries around the world have been in lockdown, businesses that were offshoring contact centres in countries such as India and the Philippines, have had to adapt quickly and find other ways to manage customer enquiries. In line with an increased demand for local contact centres, the technological flexibility of being able to easily offer work from home opportunities especially during periods of lockdown, has made Australia more favourable than perhaps some of the developing countries.  In this blog we look at why some contact centres are coming home and what market factors are driving the shift.

History of Contact Centres:

Traditional contact centres were first popularised with large businesses as an easier way to communicate with customers and address customer service complaints. These contact centres typically employed domestic agents to help handle a variety of customer service needs.

However, over time as contact centres gained significant popularity, many businesses sought to cut costs by outsourcing their contact centres to countries that could handle customer service at a much cheaper cost than domestically. For the past two decades, this has been the standard procedure for many businesses when dealing with customer service interactions.

Changes brought about by COVID-19:

With such a heavy reliance on offshore contact centres, when the pandemic hit it caused not only a great deal of stress on global trade, but a variety of structural complications for businesses with large numbers of staff working in contact centres. The sudden lockdown of countries such as India and the Philippines meant that many staff could no longer work due to poor internet in remote villages and the lack of suitable working conditions at home.

Businesses who were entirely dependent on offshore operations such as Telstra were left with a large base of customers unable to contact any support services. This has been seen across a number of large and multinational organisations. As a result, Australia, with its flexible work from home conditions, good internet coverage and the ability for staff to work from home, even during lockdowns, has become a much more compelling option.

The Aftermath:

The pandemic has impacted the way many industries structure their operations. There has been a significant shift in the mindset of companies having realised that the expenses saved from offshoring do not always outweigh the performance benefits of keeping contact centres onshore.

Furthermore, the continuing trend towards a customer focused experience means businesses now more than ever are placing a significant focus on delivering high quality customer service. The advancement of technology has also helped facilitate this change by lending a helping hand to reduce the number of staff required to offer the same or better service onshore while providing more flexibility for staff.

This can be brought about by deploying innovative solutions to help ease businesses back to onshore operations and ensuring staff are trained in the areas of expertise they need to have.

Moving forward, it’s safe to assume that the movement towards bringing some of the inbound voice, contact centre roles back onshore and mitigating risk by having staff work from different locations will continue.