Outsourcing Options South of the Border
With the increasing number of companies locating their call centers in countries like Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, Latin America could be the next call center hot spot. Yet recent studies have shown this might not be the most popular decision among consumers.
A recent study by Datamonitor, "Opportunities in Caribbean and Latin America Call Center Markets 2007," identified Latin America as the world's fastest growing call center market. Still, consumer sentiment toward offshore or nearshore outsourcing could be cause for concern. A recent study commissioned by research firm Service Support Professionals Association and Tech Strategy Partners concluded that consumers aren't happy with cost-saving support efforts, namely offshoring and nearshoring. About 50 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed found the service skills of offshore representatives to be poor, while 45 percent discourage vendors from offshoring completely.
"Consumers aren't necessarily supportive of all that vendors are trying to do to provide customers with cost-effective support," says Rahul Sood, principal at Tech Strategy Partners. "Vendors are in a real fix. They know customer support is important, but they're not able to generate any revenue from it."
Which leaves the question, will the cost savings realized from outsourcing to Latin America be worth the investment? The answer does not solely depend on proximity and cost. With published reports already stating that the Hispanic market is the fastest growing market in the United States, companies that serve this market by offering bilingual services and a cultural connection to this growing cohort naturally stand to benefit the most from a Latin American presence.
"Latin America is still something of a secret," says Esteban Kolsky, research director at Gartner. "While many companies are beginning to outsource to that part of the world, it is still relatively a ways off from becoming a big market in call center locations--but it is growing."