Last year I wrote an article about our nearshoring operation in Crete. I detailed how Nordic clients are served in Crete by native language speakers, attracted to the location by the interesting job opportunities and the sun. Especially the sun.
I have subsequently been thinking a lot more about nearshoring as a strategic choice. In my earlier article, I detailed five key drivers that influence a nearshoring decision: cost, security, processes, regulation, and flexibility. All this remains true, but in the past year I have seen a strong preference for nearshoring compared to long-distance offshoring, and there are some distinct reasons why the nearshore multilingual hub model becomes a very attractive option when compared to offshoring.
- Finding the right partner and location: whether you are nearshoring or offshoring you need to spend time considering both the right location and partner, but the risks are greatly amplified when your partner is on the other side of the world. It’s harder to build a working business relationship and you may need to regularly travel long distance to monitor their activity or expatriate some of your team to their location. All this is extra expense and increases the difficulty of working together.
- Culture: it’s a sensitive issue and different types of customer contact centres have different needs, but whenever customer empathy is needed (sales) or the information exchange is sensitive (financial products) customers will always respond more positively to agents who are from the same, or a very similar, cultural background.
- Time difference: it’s hard to do business with anyone who is on a very different time zone. Emails go unanswered for at least a day and calls can only be scheduled in a short window each day. Often the reality is that both teams work unsocial hours that are not good for either.
- Misunderstanding business processes: it’s hard to lift a process from one location and to make it work smoothly in an entirely new location, but when processes do break down in a nearshore environment a team can travel to fix the problem inside the day, or by the next morning at worst. In a long distance offshore arrangement it can take a couple of days to get people on the ground who can really help.
- Data security: The European Union has extremely tough penalties for companies that misuse customer data—the GDPR regulation has been enforced since May 2018 and takes existing security up several notches. It’s a serious consideration if you want your customer data to be managed outside of these regulations.
In many cases offshoring can work. There is a big difference between calling a contact centre because your printer is not working and calling to ask your bank for a mortgage. In the first case, you focus is just on whether the person on the line has the expertise to fix your problem. In the second case, you are deeply aware of the personal information you are sharing with this person—the type of relationship is entirely different.
When building a solution that requires complex customer interactions, a nearshoring option will almost always produce better results and a nearshore multilingual hub is a great solution for companies that need multilingual support inside a region.
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Image: Ben White via Unsplash