Fri | Jan 22, 2021

BPO heart-breaker - Workers sent home after client closes account

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:19 AMMark Titus/Gleaner Writer


Davon Crump, chief executive officer of business process outsourcing outfit Global Outsourcing Solutions Limited (GOSL), will probably never forget the look of despair on the faces of some of his employees when they were told that the COVID-19 crunch had effectively closed down the accounts they oversaw.

“It was heartbreaking and very difficult for us to have that conversation, where the client has decided that they cannot hold up their business, so we had to send them home,” Crump told The Gleaner.

“Without those accounts, we were not in a position to keep them on the books, but I am confident that the sector will rebound.”

The BPO sector has been one of Jamaica’s bright streaks in recent years, amassing an army of nearly 40,000 workers, with thousands of square feet of building space still emerging from the ground in the high-growth industry.

But COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has caused the engine of global commerce to slow, with many economies sputtering.

The workers at GOSL are now facing an uncertain future, perhaps for months, depending on how quickly the deadly virus is contained. Crump declined to disclose the numbers axed.

“I expect that our sector will bounce back even greater than before and quicker than any other industries in Jamaica because outsourcing is far more resilient,” said Crump.

“I believe we will eventually see business resume in those countries that are feeling the hit now, and they will be doing everything to ensure that their economies bounce back, and we will be looking out for these and other such opportunities that will be on offer.”

While not identifying the North American clients who have pulled the plug, he said the accounts were associated with the hospitality, travel, and food industries.

The travel industry has been hit by turbulence, bringing down with it the global tourism sector with mass closures of hotels and leisure and adventure operations.

One travel-related client has filed for bankruptcy and will not reopen even when things turnaround, Crump disclosed.

“It is going to be very difficult for firms that only specialise in collections because no money is available, so no one will be paying during these difficult times, so one of the lessons we can learn from this is that we must be more diverse so we can stay alive,” he added.

A former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Crump transitioned into the call-centre market in 2011 with 35 workers. He said that that challenging initiation might be a perfect template to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I ventured in the industry in the early stages of growth,” recalled Crump. “We saw that it was going to be a boom in Jamaica, that it would be a great investment,” he said.