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So, we had the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant report for BPO Contact Centres released a week or two ago.

But how much attention do organisations actually pay to it? Is it a bit like awards, in that it means more to those in it than those not in it? 

There are some great CX BPO organisations not on that list. Although the criteria to start with is 20,000 agents and $500m revenue, so it will only look at a very particular section of the overall BPO space. It is also very American focused, and some cynicisms will always remain about the commercials involved as to how this is put together and its true independence.

How important is this to clients? Not one person in the years I’ve been involved has ever asked where are they on the magic quadrant. The ones I have been dealing with on three RFP’s in just the last nine months had never even heard of it.

So how relevant is it to clients? If it isn’t relevant to clients, then what’s the point of it? There will occasionally be a client that has massive scales and wants to move 2,000 or 3,000 seats, or more, but they happen very infrequently, and many clients now don’t want to be with big players. Others want to be with big players specifically, so they are not a dominant client. 

Clearly however, if you want to mobilise 2,000 or 3,000 seats, there are only a certain number of players in the market that can handle that kind of scale and have that sort of capacity, but realistically, with track and trace now tailing off, how many of those contracts are out there in the market?  I know of one well known provider who hasn’t won a new client for two years.

What was definitely true a year or two ago with the gold tier BPO providers is that you are not just buying bodies and agents per hour now. They have very complex digital and CX Technology offerings. However, my experience from the RFP programmes I have run for clients over the last nine months, is that the mid-tier, middle market players, have just as good technology offerings now, and actually have more agility, whilst still offering a more boutique level of service, to those clients who need and want it. They all actively shied away from going with a magic quadrant business.
And where is the CX Transformation coming from?  Experience shows us that at the magic quadrant end of the market, and I quote directly from one of them “well it’s all about productions isn’t it”…there are still too many of them focused on numerics, with seats to fill, and judging success on seats and scale.
The real success stories are often coming from further down the scale in the market, with the ability to be agile, flexible, and tailor the service to what clients and their customers actually need. As one client said to me last month “I feel with them, we will have to fit into their way of doing things. With that provider, they will adapt to us”   
Whilst clearly the businesses at the top end of the market are strong in many areas, what the Gartner report did still expose however is weakness across nearly all of the players with engagement and retention, and length of tenure. This remains the Achilles heel of the entire sector, and the industry should come together and work more closely to address what remains a fundamental flaw in many operations and cultures.
So, the real question remains, who is, or can, deliver the innovation and differentiation that is really needed and demanded by clients and their customers in what has become an increasing commoditised and homogenised market? 
As is often the case, start with ‘why’.
There are still far too many BPO execs measured and incentivised on seats and scale. It is time the ones that actually matter to clients and their customers to be more front and centre and celebrated.

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