Where in the World Are Outsourcers Going?
The largest contact center in the United States is operated by American Express in Phoenix, with 5,200 seats. Fidelity Investments operates a 4,400-seat facility in Westlake, Texas, and a 3,800-seat facility in Covington, Ky. Others in the top five in terms of size include Bank of America’s 3,600-seat center in Norfolk, Va., and Citibank’s 3,500-seat facility in Irving, Texas.
The top contact center expansions in 2019 were Progressive Insurance’s 2,000 seats in Cleveland and 1,500 seats in Tampa; DXC Technologies’ 1,200 seats in Conway, Ariz.; Allstate’s 1,300-seat facility in Irving, Texas., and TaskUs’s 1,200-seat facility in San Antonio.
Saenger adds that some areas of the suburban Midwest have also become attractive to contact center operators. These are areas with populations that are dense enough to meet contact center employment needs but far enough from urban centers that could draw away the talent.
“Unemployment rates are at historic lows in the U.S., which is creating a lot of challenges for call centers across the country,” writes King White, founder and CEO of Site Selection Group, in a recent blog post. “Employee attrition and wage rates are increasing as employers are fighting to attract and retain talent, especially in the more saturated call center labor markets. Minimum wage laws continue to push entry-level wages up further in many states across the U.S., including call center hotspots like Arizona and Colorado.”
“Every geography has its own nuances,” Petruk adds.
The most popular sites for nearshore jobs of late have been Central America and the Caribbean, the Site Selection Group reports. “Latin America has now become a serious contender in the site selection game over the last decade. Most of these [contact center] projects stem from the need to consolidate pan-Latin American operations and service customers in the United States [and other high-cost regions].”
Expansion into nearshore Latin America increased 53 percent over the previous year, according to Site Selection Group’s “Global Call Center Location Trend Report 2019.” The report finds that more than 25,000 jobs were created at 34 announced projects in Central America and the Caribbean.
Site Selection Group lists the top nearshore contact center projects of 2019 as Amazon’s 2,000-seat expansion in Costa Rica; Conduent’s 2,000-seat expansion in Montego Bay, Jamaica; ERC’s new 1,000-seat site in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Startek’s new 1,000-seat site in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
The Central American country of Belize has also grown as a preferred nearshore location, as Frost & Sullivan noted in a recent white paper, “Smaller by Design: Belize as a Premier Outsourcing Destination.”
“Belize’s opportunity to capture a large segment of the U.S. bilingual market is unprecedented and cannot be ignored. [Business process outsourcing] companies and their clients are standing up and taking notice,” says Michael DeSalles, a principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in the report. “Transparent BPO, the largest national service provider, is making significant strides to transform the trifecta of people, process, and technology into a competitive advantage for its clients. The country’s young labor market now supports over 4,000 in-demand contact center jobs in its fast-growth BPO sector.”
According to the report, agents in Belize tend to have outstanding English and Spanish communication skills, an affinity for U.S. culture, and the ability to sell to American consumers; in addition, contact center providers offer highly successful BPO talent acquisition and training programs.
Belize offers other benefits, according to the research, including the following:
- • two main fiber-optic network hubs—ARCOS and TELMEX—and a third under construction with high redundancy rates nationally;
- • sophisticated and reliable multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network infrastructures, which offer higher speeds and more accurate routing, with expansion capability;
- • a better price-value ratio and cost advantage when compared with the Philippines, another popular foreign contact center location;
- • political stability and stable foreign exchange rates;
- • government incentives to attract and retain outsourcing companies and aggressive in-country government-investment promotion to U.S. companies;
- • short travel distance from most major U.S. airline routes;
- • a time zone advantage, as it falls within the same time zone as a major part of the United States.