Several high profile Australian businesses brought contact centres back on shore in 2020, keen to deliver better customer experiences and integrate the support division into business processes.

But don’t expect the recent trend – which include enterprise giants like Westpac and Telstra – to last, says Avaya, a leading provider of call centre technology.

“These changes are sometimes cyclical because of [executive] level changes, shareholder pressures [and] market pressures,” said Simon Vatcher, managing director A/NZ, Avaya.

“I think we will always see some level of flip flopping between price tension in the contact centre space at an agent level where people will offshore.”

Avaya provides contact centre platforms and communications platforms for support services and collaboration, after pivoting away from its hardware roots. The company said “almost every bank” in Australia uses its services.

During an Avaya media event today, Vatcher said the company has indeed seen more on shoring of contact centres in Australia recently, as businesses look to improve customer experiences and integrate support roles – and the valuable data that comes with them – back into the business.

In July Westpac announced it was moving 1,000 call centre jobs that are being carried out in India and the Philippines back to Australia, following drops in customer service and loss of valuable business during the pandemic.

Around the same time Telstra revealed its plans to have Australian agents answer all inbound calls from 2022, after losing capacity in its offshore centres due to COVID restrictions. Telstra plans to keep voice support in Australia and use agents in the Philippines and India for digital channels.

Location, location, location

Many of the cloud based technologies like Avaya’s mean it is becoming less important where agents reside or work.

“A lot of those outsourcers have already started adopting some of our cloud technology,” said Sami Ammous, Avaya’s VP of APJ. “So for them the move really is just a matter of where they place their agents.

“You tell your agents not to log in and out of a Manilla and to log in in Sydney or in Europe somewhere or even in the US where a lot of our outsourcing customers are, and then you’ll find that the technology is ready to serve you.”

But advances in the technology means there’s increasingly less manual integration work – where cheap labour becomes is a bigger consideration – and there’s more valuable data to be extracted from support services.

While Australian companies were quick to reveal their on shoring plans, Ammous say he’s seen little evidence of a lasting impact in South East Asia, where businesses have traditionally outsourced their support services to.

“We’re not really seeing much of that [on shoring] in our part of the world,” Ammous said.

“If I look at Southeast Asia, if anything … we’re seeing the reverse effect [of increased outsourcing to South East Asia]. But in either case, you actually need to be able to have the foundation and technology to support you to be able to do that.”

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