How The Pandemic Affected The BPO Industry

Posted on 13th May 2022 10:01 AM

Covid-19 has put the world at a standstill, and BPO companies are fighting the complexities brought about by the said pandemic.


The last quarter of 2019 brought unexpected news that would later change the lives of everyone on the planet. The Covid-19 put the world at a standstill. By 2020, it was already clear that this is not only a health crisis but a worldwide economic tragedy as well. As states and governments raced to avoid the virus from spreading fast, industries down to small businesses suffered unprecedented blows. The BPO industry, despite the quick recognition and the prompt response, also took a severe hit mainly because of restrictions implemented to secure lockdowns. Even today, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies are hurting but still rapidly adjusting to rise and recover.


Covid and the State of BPO Companies

When Covid-19 hit the pandemic stage, the entire retail market/ distribution channel shut down, and businesses that rely on BPO companies for related services no longer have the need for them. Many companies supporting these kinds of business verticals shut down eventually. Those that cannot make quick adjustments are suffering huge losses, including telemarketing businesses. 

No matter how big or small a call-center company is, the issues are virtually the same. In a matter of weeks, companies found themselves caught between protecting their employees and protecting the client protocol that disallows remotely working from home (copyrights infringements and sensitive data are among the significant issues of customers and clients demanding "Force Majeure" and business suspension). 

Since the implementation of lockdowns, the BPO industry and other businesses have been suffering profit losses and treading carefully, even with the vaccine already available in most parts of the world. Even with the easing up of specific protocols, the BPO industry is still far from getting back on its feet towards full recovery. Many are operating on short-term contracts and setting priorities on important clients to stay in business and hopefully survive another fiscal year.


BPO: Adjustments for the New Normal


With travel restrictions and fear of the virus spreading, BPO companies quickly turned to work-from-home setup. However, logistics and other technicalities proved this to be costly and arduous for many businesses. Even today, the BPO industry is still hurting from this new normal but fighting to improve all aspects of the work-from-home model.

The work-from-home mode saved a lot of BPO companies from totally shutting down. But they presented so many challenges; a number of them are currently still hurting the industry. One aspect that made the work-from-home setup problematic, especially during the early months, is the connectivity. Unstable Internet connections, remote access to systems, and equipment are just some of the major concerns.

 Another thing is quality of work and integrity risks. With minor or no supervision at all, one of the issues confronting the BPO companies with the work-from-home setup is the poor output quality. While monitoring apps and platforms allow remote coaching and trainer intervention, they cannot fully substitute for real-time and physical monitoring. And clients are getting anxious with this setup simply because many work-from-home setups make their business prone to data security risks. With these glitches and woes, BPO companies are still expected to suffer losses and other repercussions of the work-from-home setup.

 Prospects for Many BPO Companies

 While there is no doubt that "herd immunity" can be achieved with the fast rollout of vaccinations programs in many parts of the world, BPO companies still need to confront specific real-time effects and developments of the ongoing pandemic. With that being said, the future of BPO companies and the industry now rely on transitioning from full office operation to empowering work-from-home offices and mobile set-ups. 

Innovation in the digital processes, platforms, equipment, and data security requirements for remote access are keys to ensuring client satisfaction and support for services and businesses. Business continuity will rely on establishing integrity on output, service, and security. A BPO company that can commit to a "Covid-resistant" business in all aspects of their operation will gain the upper hand and ensure their business's survival. 

Needless to say, the continuing pandemic is an opportunity to re-invent BPO companies. It is also a reminder to re-examine the industry and better prepare for crisis scenarios similar to this in the future. Overall, the BPO companies are hurting, but brilliant solutions to adapt and recover are remarkable. So far, the industry is putting up a good fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.


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