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How UK Businesses Can Benefit from Cross-Atlantic Outsourcing

March 9, 2023

UK businesses are facing some unique challenges, and many companies are looking to control costs. This has typically driven the decision to outsource business services, such as customer care. However, there are other ways UK businesses can benefit from cross-Atlantic outsourcing, including enjoying 23% less travel time than other outsourcing destinations such as South Africa or the Philippines. Cost-effective, flexible CX services can be delivered through the Caribbean and Latin America, a perfect middle ground. If you’ve never considered “Mid-Shore” outsourcing, here are some compelling reasons to do so. 

Solve the Skills Shortage  

The UK is facing an unprecedented skills shortage. In just this past year, there’s been a four-fold surge in job vacancies, with 100,000 fewer workers to fill them. Almost half of UK businesses say they don’t have enough qualified staff, especially with tech-related skills, or multilingual abilities, and this includes the contact center industry. With a shrinking labor force, the loss of many skilled workers during Brexit, along with a poor reputation for contact center jobs, UK businesses have been struggling to keep up with call volumes, resulting in a 563% increase in the average time to respond - leading to frustrated customers and lower satisfaction levels.  

The Mid-Shore Solution 

Compared with low unemployment rates in the UK, just under 4%, Latin America and the Caribbean (LACA) have much larger pools of talent, eager for jobs, with unemployment rates in LACA countries hovering between 10- 17%. People in these regions also tend to view contact center jobs as good, stable long-term careers, resulting in above average retention rates. This is particularly true at itel, where we offer many career development opportunities, training programs, and internal promotions that help us retain knowledge, experience, and industry expertise. We can readily source agents with tech-related skills, and proficiency in English, French, and Spanish, through our Colombia or Honduras locations. These are growing multilingual tech hubs with several internationally recognized universities and thousands of graduates per year specializing in technology.   

Feed the Need for New Technologies and Automation 

Innovation is not only needed to remain competitive, but the right technology can also help UK businesses save costs. In fact, 48% of C-suite execs think that AI will be very important in the coming years. This is because man hours are often quite expensive in Europe, and by automating certain parts of the contact center experience, it can improve efficiency and can reduce the number of agents needed. Over two thirds of contact center execs say that by routing calls through automated technologies and self-service channels, such as AI-assisted IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) or chatbots, they have been able to reduce costs and the number of voice calls. Technology can also enhance the productivity of agents by freeing them from mundane duties, so they can focus on higher value tasks, such as solving complex customer issues.  

The Mid-Shore Solution 

While most outsourcing destinations can provide basic contact center technology, such as data analytics, it’s the ability to use those insights to add new channels, new processes, and complementary technologies that will boost competitiveness and business growth. Latin America has some of the best developers, AI, and robotics process automation specialists to help you drive digital transformation throughout your customer journey. They are also more cost-effective than their European counterparts. Because of the closer proximity of Latin America than places like the Philippines, and a more reliable IT infrastructure than India, it is much easier to have closer collaborations with outsourced teams, either through virtual meetings or in-person visits. This allows better oversight over the development of innovative technologies and their integration into existing CRM systems.  

Counter Rising Costs of Doing Business 

Of course, we can’t forget about cost reduction. A recent survey by Equals Money showed that 75% of UK C-suite execs are concerned about current economic conditions and their ability to keep going. The cost of business and the cost of living keeps rising, squeezing both consumers and organizations. Following the pandemic, 92% of UK businesses faced cash flow struggles, citing rising energy prices, supply chain issues and reduced consumer demand. Over a quarter are seeing reduced sales, difficulty in meeting growth targets and employees requesting higher wages, which all bite into their bottom line. That may be why 91% are planning to take significant action to maintain competitiveness and protect their cash flow.  

The Mid-Shore Solution 

Many UK businesses (73%) say they will have to raise prices to manage increasing costs. Before choosing that option, you may want to consider the cost-saving benefit of cross-Atlantic outsourcing. The Caribbean offers cost-competitive wages compared to other destinations like South Africa and Eastern European countries. Outsourcers like itel also have all the mechanisms and recruitment channels in place to source new agents at scale, quickly and efficiently, which gives long-term savings on recruitment and hiring costs. As well, outsourcing doesn’t just save money, but time, which is another kind of currency - 3 out of 5 companies say outsourcing allows them to focus on core responsibilities, like driving growth or new sales.  

Lesser-Known Benefits of Cross-Atlantic Outsourcing 

Outsourcing brings in added resources, skills, and technologies, making your business more resilient, agile, and more competitive in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable global market. But let’s also not overlook the ease of doing business with mid-shore BPOs.  

Mid-shore BPOs are gaining increased recognition exactly because they supply business-friendly environments amid countries that are eager for, and encourage, the development of the outsourcing sector. Caribbean and Latin American outsourcers have a history of doing business with European organizations and many are British Commonwealth countries who align culturally with UK brands. They can tap into large cross-Atlantic labor pools and can help you source specific skills and expertise among educated job seekers, to help you scale for peak seasons across various industries.  

Believe it or not, countries in the Caribbean and Latin America have the necessary infrastructure to guarantee service continuity and reliability. In recent years, Caribbean and Latin American governments have made significant investments in IT infrastructure. This has been aided by our own recent $15 million Capex investments in itel facility upgrades, bringing all our centers up to world-class standards, with modern, attractive, and inspiring workspaces that encourage agent productivity and success. 

So, the question becomes, why choose far-shore or even Europe’s nearshore, when you can achieve 88%+ customer satisfaction scores and benefit from the same affordable rates, without having to go as far as India, South Africa, or the Philippines. It might be time to consider the merit of the “middle” road.  

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