Captive-Center-Pandemic

Your Captive Service Center Survived the First 100 Days of the Pandemic. Now What?

Early in the pandemic, ISG collected feedback from enterprise clients about their experiences with offshore services to see how everyone was faring. We were not optimistic, but the reports that came back were extraordinary. In late March, about ten days into the lockdown in India, ISG advisers rated the service provider response and service delivery from India at nearly 4 out of 5, with 5 being no change in services. They reported that productivity levels were 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 productivity levels. This remarkable performance was due to the instant response, resourceful problem solving – including in some cases “leasing” employee hardware and repurposing it with remote IT intervention – and deep commitment to service continuity for their clients.

For captive centers that are owned and operated by individual companies, the pandemic response was not as smooth. Investment in these centers over the past couple of decades has been significant, but the pandemic laid bare a lack of scale that proved to have a real impact. To respond to a crisis of this size, companies need deep logistical and operational expertise on delivering services globally. For example, they need to be able to acquire and secure lots of technology quickly, move services between global delivery locations and rapidly scale up training initiatives. These skills are not the province of a typical captive owner.

We saw this impact play out in captive call centers, where, in some cases, wait times increased significantly leading to frustrated customers. Enterprises in the Insurance, Healthcare, Hospitality and Travel industries experienced severe call volume spikes. Some call centers were forced to ask customers to return after 72 hours due to unavailability of agents, a practice that persists today even after call volumes have tapered off. Standard service levels like average handling time, first-call resolution rates, call abandonment rates and queues drastically degraded amidst lockdown. Many captive operations didn’t have the experience, investment or knowledge to enable their call center agents to work productively from home, and they have seen non-volume related impacts on quality, accuracy, conversion and customer satisfaction.

Read this ISG white paper, Your Captive Service Center Survived the First 100 Days of the Pandemic. Now What?, to learn more.

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About the author

Mr. Furlong is a Partner at ISG and has over 25 years of experience in assisting companies transform their general and administrative functions including finance and accounting, human resources, and procurement. He has expertise in formulating strategies and designing alternative service delivery models (Global Business Services, shared services and outsourcing), transforming processes, driving organizational change, and implementing emerging technologies such as advanced analytics, mobile solutions, cognitive computing and cloud based solutions.  Mr. Furlong leads ISG’s Business Advisory Services practice and serves on the Americas Leadership team.