2022 will be a huge year for brands in Spain. Consumer behavior is changing, digital transformation is accelerating, and economic recovery may pick up. As a result, there are game-changing customer management challenges and opportunities for brands.
Pedro Rodríguez Swanson, Chief Commercial Officer for Comdata Spain, gives a frontline view of the Spanish market and 7 key trends to leverage.
1. Rethinking the customer experience
As elsewhere in the world, the pandemic accelerated the pace of change in customer management in Spain. The mass consumer migration to digital seems permanent, and consumers’ interactions with brands look very different. For some brands, the only real interaction they have with their customers in the future may be through a contact center.
That requires a rethink of the customer journey and the type of interactions that customers want. This redesign must take into account some key characteristics of the Spanish market:
- As in other markets, there’s increasing demand for personalization and hyper-personalization. Brands must make better use of data and smart analytics to provide this.
- Spanish consumers want simplicity and fluidity in their interactions with brands. Any move to personalization should not add complexity for the customer.
- Supply chain issues with many products – from cars to consumer electronic goods – make it harder to offer consumers instant gratification. Brands must differentiate themselves through excellent CX, reinforcing other aspects of the customer journey to build trust and loyalty.
- Spain was the European economy hit hardest by the Covid-19 crisis, and its recovery, though now underway, lagged some of its neighbors. Some businesses in Spain are still focusing more on survival rather than growth, while those that are investing in new technology and CX want a strong return on investment.
2. Rethinking the workplace
Attracting and retaining talent in Spain will be a major issue in customer management. As brands compete on CX differentiation and greater specialization is required from agents, there will be growing competition for talent. Brands and customer management BPO providers must invest in training and retaining their staff.
A key part of the recruitment and retention equation will be how and where staff want to work. Work@home and hybrid models are here to stay (although Spanish employment regulations are likely to keep work@home at a lower level than in other European markets). This in turn means people are reviewing where they want to work: why live in Berlin or London when you could work flexible hours in a multilingual hub in Malaga with 300 days of sun a year and lower living costs?
But there’s no room for complacency about the attractions of working in Spain; employee wellbeing, satisfaction, and development must be a priority. Employers must implement hybrid models that combine in-person training and team-building with flexible, remote working options. In other words, from the workforce perspective, contact centers must move away from being centers of production to being experience centers.
3. Mastering the new technologies mix
Digital transformation will continue at full throttle in Spain in 2022, with AI taking center-stage in many brands’ CX. Achieving the best balance between automation and the human touch will be key to create long-term custom value, and a number of issues will influence this balancing act:
- Written channels will continue to grow in popularity. However, theories about the use of voice disappearing are unlikely to become reality: we believe that voice will remain the primary contact channel in 2022 or run a close second to chat.
- Mobile CX will be a priority. Around two-thirds (65%) of Spanish consumers engage with products via mobile, so brands must ensure that every interaction can be done effectively this way. Consumers do not want to (or may not be able to) revert to desktop for more complex operations.
- Omnichannel provision needs to step up. Even now, many brands in Spain still equate omnichannel with multichannel. But they need to go further, ensuring that all interactions across these different channels are linked seamlessly in the same matrix of information. Many need support to consolidate in this way.
- Smart real-time data – and knowing how to collect, store and use it – will be critical. The pandemic rendered historical data obsolete, so that what brands knew in early 2020 is probably meaningless in 2022. Customer behavior, times of calling, channel usage and so much more have changed radically in Spain, and brands need providers with the technology and analytics capabilities to help them understand the new and next normal.
4. The key sectors to watch
Though Spain’s economic recovery was relatively slow to take off in 2021, optimism is increasing in certain sectors.
One of these is fashion, with over half of Spanish fashion companies predicting the sector will return to pre-pandemic volumes and sales in 2022. Another is international travel and tourism – one of the lungs of the Spanish economy. It’s projected that tourism could reach 90% of pre-crisis levels by the end-2022.
Spain’s technology and start-up sector is also in good shape. Food delivery app Glovo is the Spanish tech unicorn that usually dominates the headlines, but it’s certainly not alone. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga are all thriving start-up hotspots and over 100 Spanish start-ups are well positioned to raise funding from global investors in 2022.
Another sector to watch is automotive & mobility, where electrification and connectivity are creating a new e-mobility ecosystem of energy, finance / insurance, software, and e-commerce players. Spain is one of the drivers in this global revolution.
All of these individual sector stories are important for brands and customer management because each one comes with challenges and opportunities. As consumers return to the market or adopt new habits, both existing brands and new entrants must differentiate themselves through the CX, often through digital transformation and innovation. They’ll need expert help to do this.
5. Best-shoring will be more important than ever
I said already that many brands in Spain are still focused on survival rather than growth. For these companies, investment and integration of new technology will be challenging, and costs will be absolutely under scrutiny.
In this financial environment, offshoring to Colombia and Peru will continue to grow; brands seeking to reduce costs will also look at Chile, Salvador and other Latam markets. From a nearshore perspective, Portugal, Romania, and Morocco will remain attractive locations for Spanish-speaking customer management.
But brands will need to balance offshoring efficiencies with consumer demand for seamless omnichannel services, personalized CX, high-value human interactions, and consistent native-language brand experiences. The most effective customer management providers will be those who:
- guide brands expertly through the best-shoring matrix – offering a choice of competitive locations and solutions to accommodate the brand needs
- offer standardized operations and processes across all their locations, ensuring consistent quality and delivery.
6. Adapting to the new Customer Service Law
The Spanish government has recently approved a controversial new Customer Service Law that will force large and public companies to provide their customers with a more personalized service, ‘so as not to be served only though a robot or through answer machines’.
The forthcoming law includes companies that offer basic services of general interest, such as water, energy, transportation, telephone services or financial assistance. It also covers companies with more than 250 workers that have annual turnover of €50 million or a business balance of over €43 million. The intention of the new law is for clients to be assisted by a person, if they wish, when they call with any type of inquiry or claim.
According to consulting firm Michael Page, the law will generate employment growth of 35% in the hiring profiles for this sector, with professionals with language and telemarketing skills most highly-valued. Also in demand will be soft skills related to communication and negotiation, customer focus, product and service mastery, and problem-solving.
7.Brands need to free themselves from the past
One point has cropped up again and again in the list of trends above: that everything has changed. As British author L.P. Hartley nicely put it, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
The list of issues facing brands in 2022 is dizzying: changed consumer behavior, technology transformation, an uncertain economic recovery, low domestic consumption driving them to expand internationally, a more mobile workforce, and obsolete historical data.
To deal with these new scenarios, as well as the new customer service law, they need agility – or rather providers who can deliver agility and are future-focused. That may mean looking at different providers. For example, Comdata recently launched an important multilingual operation from our new eco-efficient hub in Malaga’s exclusive Technology Park, supporting one of the planet’s leading fashion brands with over 150 native and near-native professionals for over 15 markets. That brand had been with its existing provider for some ten years, but three months in, the new Comdata operation is already delivering impressive results in terms of savings and efficiency.
Change is not easy, but in today’s market it’s a necessity. If there is one key trend in customer management in Spain in 2022, it’s the need for brands to rethink the customer experience, shed the baggage of the past, and get ready to do things differently.
Contact us to find out more
We’d love to talk more with you about the market in Spain and how we can help your brand flourish there.
To find out more, get in touch:
Pedro Rodríguez Swanson
Chief Commercial Officer
M +34 682 274 378