The mounting popularity of contact center outsourcing has lead companies to explore new locations with untapped resources. Statistically, a good 30% of the top 100 global outsourcing companies are located in Central and Eastern Europe. The Balkan countries, following the example of their neighbors, are emerging as the promising destination for companies to outsource their services. In their annual research report for 2015, Tholons ranks Balkan countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia, to be among the top 100 outsourcing destinations. A recent trend shows that including the two previously mentioned, the Balkan countries are slowly climbing up the ladder in the outsourcing industry.
These are the 5 reasons that make the Balkan countries attractive outsourcing destinations:
1. Cost-effective destinations
Outsourcing a call center has already proven to be a cost-effective solution to companies which are looking to avoid extensive investments that an in-house department may incur. By contracting a call center in the Balkan region, Western European companies gain the opportunity to further lower the costs of contracting a call center partner due to the cheaper cost base of this region.Recent studies show that companies from Western Europe are able to cut costs up to 50% when they outsource to the Balkans.
The Balkan countries are known for their ethnically mixed populations and for the variety of languages that are spoken within their borders. In addition to knowing these languages, the typical student of the Balkan region is required to study at least two foreign languages, the first one almost always being English. French and German are a popular choice as a second foreign language which, if not compulsory, is highly recommended to students. Companies looking to outsource to a call center in the Balkan countries can expect to find agents who are linguistically competent and who have a better chance of conquering language barriers when communicating with customers.
3. Suitable for middle and small-sized companies
Most call center companies in the Balkans still employ a small number of employees. This means that they take in fewer clients, but give them their maximum attention. This approach is very suitable for small and middle-sized companies coming from Western Europe. They can rest assured that their demands are well taken care of without worrying that they will not receive enough attention.
4. Educated, skillful, and competitive workforce
The Balkan countries have recently experienced an exponential increase in highly educated workforce. One example is in the area of IT services. It has been predicted that the existing technically educated personnel in these countries will lead to an increase in IT outsourcing in the global outsourcing market.
Changes in education in the Balkan countries have resulted in more educated and skillful workforce that accommodates this demand. For example, recent law changes in Macedonia established secondary school education as compulsory which has in return increased enrollment in tertiary education.This has created a rich talent pool of competitive workforce and has led individuals to specialize in specific fields in order to further hone their skills.
5. Migration to and Cultural Similarities with Western Europe
One reason why the Balkan countries are slowly emerging as the new leading locations in the outsourcing industry lies in their geographical locations. These countries are in similar if not overlapping time zones as Western European countries like Germany and the other EU countries. Therefore, outsourcing to the Balkans maximizes time efficiency and reduces the cost for late night shifts like it is the case with call centers in India or other overseas destinations.
Also, as previously mentioned, a typical Balkan contact center agent would have had learned more than one Western European language throughout their education. In order to improve their language proficiency, most of them have visited and worked in Western European countries where their target language is spoken. For example, 40% of all agents in our contact centers have lived and worked at least three years in a Western European country. This makes our agents not only linguistically competent, but also familiar with the culture and business communication of the countries they have worked in.
The dynamics of global businesses are changing and call center outsourcing is following in tow. Western European companies are expanding their business horizons by slowly turning their attention towards the Balkan countries. As destinations which are proving to be cost-effective, efficient, and convenient, it is safe to say that the future of call center outsourcing lies in these countries.
What is your experience outsourcing in the Balkans? Anything else to add to this list?
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