What we learned from Raconteur’s special on the Future of Outsourcing
In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Raconteur published its special report on the future of Outsourcing. As one of the UK’s leading providers of outsourced telephone answering services, we were eager to see what the report had to say. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. The report covers all of the hottest topics in outsourcing today from Brexit, to Freelancing, automation and offshoring. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of key talking points from Raconteur’s Future of Outsourcing Report.
There was no getting away from this one. Just like every other area of the financial and political spectrum in the last few months, Brexit was the front page talking point for Raconteur. But what did the report say? Well for my money there were two main points of interest, the state of outsourcing in the UK immediately post-Brexit, and what outsourcing might look like in the future outside of the EU.
First off, Raconteur discussed the market immediately post-Brexit, and it was surprisingly positive. The report shows that the outsourcing market has got through Brexit seemingly unscathed. In the first half of 2016 alone there were outsourcing contracts worth a total of £3.91 billion were signed, which is a year on year increase of 19%. In the same time period, local government spending on outsourcing almost doubled. What this shows is that there is definitely a future for outsourcing, and that when small businesses do feel the pinch from financial shifts such as Brexit, outsourcing simple tasks like telephone answering or basic admin work is an easy way to stay cost effective.
The second interesting point Raconteur made was about the future of Outsourcing outside of the EU. While many people assumed that the UK leaving the EU might result in fewer UK companies outsourcing things like IT and Systems management offshore, the opposite in fact could be the case. Should fewer skilled workers be able to migrate to the UK following Brexit, UK companies might be forced to outsource within the EU to where these skill bases remain. It is an interesting possibility, and means that having a dedicated service provider in the UK could become an even rarer and more valuable thing to find.
The report from Raconteur had some fascinating things to say about freelancing, and the way the workplace will look in the future. Essentially, the number of people working freelance is on the rise, and rapidly at that.
There are currently 1.6 million freelancers in the UK, and it is continuing to rise. Raconteur states that the reason for this is that as new technology and business services like call answering make it easier to work remotely, lots of people are choosing to take this option. Specifically, many parents are choosing to switch to working freelance as it allows them time to work around childcare commitments, and also that many businesses are now choosing to work with freelance staff on a project to project basis in order to get the highest standards of specialists involved at every step of the business.
The perception of freelancing is also changing. Whereas once upon a time freelance might have only been the domain of creatives like graphic designers and copywriters, Raconteurs report shows that a huge 53% of knowledge workers would consider working freelance should the opportunity arise.
As more and more people do choose to go freelance, this will only accelerate the growth of outsourcing, as those freelancers in turn recruit accountants, bookkeepers, and telephone answering and diary management services to help them manage their businesses.
Offshoring vs Onshoring
The other big feature of the piece was the debate between offshoring and onshoring. It’s not much of a surprise that this featured really, as if you simply say the word “outsourcing” most people will envisage a call centre somewhere in India or the Philippines taking calls for big corporations like banks and phone companies.
The article from Raconteur though extolls the virtue of bringing customer service outsourcing back to the UK. The argument Raconteur makes is that no matter what you call it Backsourcing, Insourcing or Reshoring the benefit is greater than simply hearing a British accent, there is a shared cultural understanding, a knowledge.
When companies outsource their call handling to the UK, it means that when a customer phones up they are greeted by a person who they can talk with effortlessly, who understands their concerns and their frame of reference. This goes a huge way to providing a higher level of customer satisfaction. The report even goes on to say some offshore call centres have tried to replicate this by training their staff in British topics of conversation, but to no avail.
As one of the UK’s leading call handlers, and one of the few who can guarantee that every call is handled right here in the UK, this news came as no surprise to us, but we were extremely pleased to see that our belief in the power of the UK call centre is ringing true across wider business sectors too.
All in all, the report from Raconteur shows a future that will see outsourcing help the UK to transition from a world of 9 to 5 working in office blocks, to a place where remote workers and freelancers are supported by specialist service providers. We will see a workforce that is more agile, flexible and efficient as specialists do what they do best, and outsource non-essential tasks to expert service providers.
And, as expert providers of telephone answering, it is a development we will work alongside every step of the way.