World Cup influences how the service industry game gets played
A temporary increase in service demands during the World Cup could permanently influence the way local businesses engage with their clients.
Many businesses are boosting service capacity to cope with the additional demand expected during the World Cup period. Take into consideration the emphasis already placed by government on providing sufficient accommodation for the estimated 3 million foreign visitors that South Africa will be hosting over the next few months. The entire travel and tourism sector is expected to boom. Car hire companies, airlines and transport services, for instance, will be busier and bigger than they have ever been.
But what will happen to the added service capacity once the World Cup has come and gone? After the country returns to normal, how will these service providers remain financially viable without the heightened demand?
The answer is simple: service suppliers need to offer temporary solutions and short-term contracts during the World Cup period.
We are increasingly seeing this trend in the contact centre industry and it appears to be a tendency in most industries. Multiplying the number of call centres during the World Cup period is inevitable and there has been increased recruitment efforts and training available, especially for the booking of agents. On balance, there needs to be sufficient capacity to deal with the above-normal rate of enquiries that the service industry is anticipating.
However, service suppliers don’t want to invest in extra capacity during the long term. They are making provisions for a rise in call volumes, but are refusing to buy in to long contracts, whether it be for software solutions, hardware, personnel, or even physical space. Suppliers have been forced to meet these transient needs by offering flexible service contracts.
It is likely that this ad hoc and unconventional way of doing business will have a more permanent impact on the local trade industry going forward. Knowing what is possible, clients may continue requesting non-traditional service agreements.
Consumers have been enjoying flexible, short-term options from most of their service suppliers for some time now with shortened cellphone contracts, for example, and pay-as-you-go electricity. Evolving technologies such as cloud computing, hosted services and “software-as-a-service” have already greatly contributed to a change in the way some businesses consume services, but general take-up thus far has been slow.
The World Cup might shift expectations to such a degree that we will not be able to go back to the way we provided and requested services before. Businesses may just begin to demand ‘building-block’ or ‘modular’ services and software provision from their suppliers.
So although the extra capacity will not remain, a whole new way of doing business might. Businesses that have had to increase capacity temporarily may want to continue not to have binding contracts or vendor buy-in.
Furthermore, service suppliers will begin to look to structuring their contracts differently or giving more options in terms of buy-in. They will realise that they have to be flexible enough for changing consumer needs in order to remain ahead of the game.