Contact Center Outsourcing Consolidation- Where Are the Benefits?

By: Mike McMenamin, Associate Partner & Director, Contact Center Services, TPI

In the past 3-5 years contact center outsourcing, a $60 billion market, has experienced significant consolidation. Here is a timeline of how the consolidation progressed:

1. Stage 1: (10 -15 years ago) –  Large buyers of contact center outsourcing services, i.e. Fortune 500 firms with more than 500 agents (many with more than 1,000), initially outsourced for cost savings and to reduce large employee populations of agents; moved work out to one or two service providers.

2. Stage 2: (5-10 years ago) – These same buyers realized that using multiple service providers created ongoing price and performance competition; workload was split between multiple service providers (sometimes as many as 10 based on their size).

3. Stage 3: (3-5 years ago) – As a significant portion of the work portfolio has migrated offshore and all major providers have established a global footprint of some kind, buyers have begun to consolidate their stables of multiple service providers.   They see and realize the benefits (i.e. knowledge transfer, global standard processes / tools / technology, improved global account management) of moving toward fewer and usually larger, more capable service providers. 

In this market, the Tier-1 service providers have been the beneficiaries of this move towards consolidation on large accounts.  The large telecommunications companies (Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon) have consolidated and now rely on two to three major providers, as opposed to 10 different firms in the past.  Firms like GM and HP (with > 5,000 agents) have also consolidated using a smaller number of service providers.  This allows the buyers to move their workload around the globe (onshore, offshore, nearshore) with a single service provider as their markets, demand, and business priorities change from year to year.