The Hispanic market is calling, and specialty call centers are answering.
Posted Jan 18, 2005
It is now conventional wisdom that leading U.S. corporations should be effectively targeting the Hispanic market based on its market size and disposable income. With Hispanic purchasing power of $652 billion and population numbers estimated to grow from 35.6 million to 102.6 million by 2050, senior management teams across consumer industries are prioritizing their companies' plans to acquire and retain greater Hispanic market share.
However, communicating with this market effectively to execute such plans is where many U.S. companies fall short. Fortunately, there exist viable and credible solutions. With the proliferation of customer support outsourcers in Latin America in recent years, U.S. companies are able to achieve the needed quality and scalability advantages on the call center front through access to large pools of university-educated, bilingual speakers. While in the U.S. companies struggle to hire and retain qualified bilingual agents, in Latin America there is abundant supply in select regions. There are many factors when doing due diligence, but the most critical is attaining a sustainable pool of available bilingual agents. Other key factors are value-added services, proximity to the United States, management experience, and corporate cultural fit.
Interestingly, the same trend witnessed with the proliferation of Hispanic advertising agencies in the last decade is occurring in the CRM industry. In 1996 there were only 14 Hispanic advertising agencies in the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Today there are more than 60, meeting the demand of the Fortune 1000 audience requiring specialty firms to best target this emerging market. It is now a given that using a specialty ad agency for Hispanic market strategy is smart business. The same trend is taking place in the outsourcing industry, as specialized providers are convincing Fortune 500 corporations that their Hispanic customers are best served with niche providers that can deliver a turnkey solution integrating contact center and professional services.
The operational advantages achievable through the right partnership provide the basis for performance, but specialty providers can offer differentiated professional services, leveraging their market expertise and strategic focus on the Hispanic market. The most successful Hispanic marketers are continuously learning how to improve upon their product development, acquisition, and retention strategies, and are cognizant of the central role the contact center can play in strengthening their execution plans. The right partner will not only exceed service level agreements, but also leverage their front-line position to gather valuable information learned from the customer and relay it back to the company, with suggestions on how to better target, serve, and retain the Hispanic market.
Following are two real-world examples of professional services offered by a specialty call center:
Recommendation to a client that they partner with a prepayment company to offer new payment options to Hispanic customers interested in their product. While agents still prioritize credit card sales for retention and recurring payment reasons, the outsourcer now offers a prepayment option to maximize conversion rates. Since these changes, the outsourcer's conversion rate for eligible callers has been more than 70 percent.
Recommendation to a client that they tailor their retention scripts to better meet the needs of the Hispanic market. Through a focus group the agents noted that the teenagers of the families were the main product users; however, the parents were the ones canceling the service. The suggestion was made and accepted that we should edit the scripts in the retention queue to discuss benefits of particular relevance to this market like family betterment and education opportunities. Since these changes the outsourcer's retention rates have been more than 55 percent.
The value of a contact center's front-line position cannot be overstated. Simply put, the call center should be the bridge between operations and marketing, particularly with the Hispanic market.
About the Author
Kit Cooper serves as cochairman and executive vice president for Hispanic Teleservices Corporation (HTC), a leading provider of outsourced customer support for companies serving the Hispanic market. Kit can be reached at email@example.com
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