Gone are the days organisations careless about their customers ! Today the customer is the king,this is a popular cliché that has becoming a norm or watchword for many organisation and enterprises globally. For any organisation to stay afloat in an ever changing and highly competitive world we are in today, that organisation must device a means to either reach out to customer or constantly engage customers.
Thee need to engage customers and prospective customer has necessitated many organisation that have the capital and funds to establish customer service department or unit in their organisation. Such as banks ,telecom operators and other multinationals. The sole responsibility of this unit is to cater for the need of the customers and also answer enquiry. Most times this unit work around the clock and customers demand that their emails, phone calls and SMS message are answered and this should be done properly and timely. Though some organisations that are smaller might not have the capacity it to create this unit ,this might affect their operation expenditure(OPEX) .
These smaller organisations outsource these functions to third party known as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing ) or Contact Centres solution providers. What these BPO and CCSP do is to take away the burden of customer unit from these organisation and have it upon themselves to attend to their customers on their behalf. The BPO industry globally is said to run in billions of dollars annually. With countries like India and phillioeans taking a larger chunk
Nigeria, as a country have started understanding the need for customer engagement and after sales enquiries. This have seen many multinationals and indigenous BPO such as ConSol and Workforce to open business. This have also created employment for these BPOs in Nigeria . Though ,BPO industry can be said to be at it infancy with little or no clear cut regulation and government protection. What cannot be denied is that their have created and made impact especially to the organised private sector in Nigeria . The Nigerian government is yet to embrace this concept, only a few Nigerian government offices do understand the need for BPO Outsourcing and those that have in-house customer unit or are few ,like NCC and CBN.
This week has been marked as the Customer service week. Customer Service Week is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis. In 1992 the U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event, celebrated annually during the first full week in October.
The growing competitive business environment has positioned BPO as a key source of competitive advantage. India and China have dominated this industry but as the cost of outsourcing gets higher, companies are looking for other possible destinations. But in Nigeria ,this industry is nascent and faced with numerous challenges in Nigeria, the BPO industry has the capacity to be a foreign revenue earner. Now that the country is facing a turbulent times. The economy been in dire need for diversification,the BPO can be a very good source of revenue earner as it is being done in countries like India and Philippines.
The BPO industry employs a significant number of people in India, the Philippines and Latin America with thousands of people working in that section of the market. Essentially, Nigeria being a country with about 160 million people has such a huge potential with a very large employable population who are mostly graduates and speak good English, even better than India because our English is clearer and more accepted, even when we speak to foreign people they understand. With the penetration of telecoms, it opens up a whole new way for companies and service delivery organizations to interact with their customers and better service their customers, and also more importantly, get feedbacks from their customers. The contact centre also serves as a vital tool for public services delivery.
In the words of Abiodun Adeoye, MD/CEO of ConSol “I think the service industry has far more potential to generate FDI and dollar revenue to Nigeria. India generates over 60 billion dollars a year for the outsourcing industry.”He said.
Industry stakeholders have called for government support in terms of protection of the local players against the big foreign BPO in the country .
“Government regulation should protect companies like us. If an organisation is coming in to do business in Nigeria, they shouldn’t hold it 100 percent, it is necessary to see to this. There is nothing that these foreign call center outsourcing companies can provide in Nigeria that we cannot provide.” Continued Adeoye.
Nigeria is considered as having the potential to be a major BPO hub in West Africa but not much has been done by the government to harness this potential. The government is yet to come to terms with the immense potentials that this industry has. This is in terms of revenue and employment of labour . In a report , Tim Unwin former Sec General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Operators (CTO) stated “The BPO sector is increasingly being focused on by national planners for economic growth. India is one of the leading BPO destinations, while Sri Lanka has set a target of $1bn by 2015. Recently, both Ghana and Kenya launched studies to map out strategies to promote their BPO sectors.”
Issues like double taxation, lack of power supply and regulatory framework coupled with high cost of business had been noted to be few challenges impeding the full takeoff of this multi billion dollar industry. This has made multinationals to locate their BPO to other neighbouring countries like Ghana .
According to World Bank report ,low broadband, high cost of connectivity and poor infrastructure were among factors preventing Nigeria from entering into the global BPO industry.
Anthony Nwosu .E.