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Assessing the Latin America Market for Call Center Outsourcing Options

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August 02, 2011

Assessing the Latin America Market for Call Center Outsourcing Options

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

In call center outsourcing news, Sitel’s Don Berryman, general manager of the Americas, gave a recent interview where he discussed nearshore locations, expansion plans, the ideal employee, plus how to build a good team, according to the industry journal Nearshore Americas. Obviously this is of interest to those involved in call center outsourcing, since Latin America is an increasingly attractive area for the industry.

When assessing a country for call center outsourcing, Berryman said, “The single-most important element is the employable workforce. That they are smart and we will be able to have long-lasting relationships with them. We assess the infrastructure, stability of government, the ease to get in and out of the country.”

He noted that they can train employees for the job, but they look to hire people who “think well, handle client situations, work on computers, have good typing, have good comprehension skills, or a certain skill set like technical abilities.”

And it’s not just fluent English speakers they’re looking for, Berryman said, noting that bilingualism is important in some markets such as “in Nicaragua where most of our products are for English-speaking clients. We went into Colombia to support our Spanish offshore clients and we found that we could service a number of North American clients from there.”

Discussing the Latin American market overall, Berryman observed that most countries have limited resources, as opposed to call centers in India and the Philippines, but that “Nicaragua and Colombia are outstanding, Chile is a little different because of the tax structure and cost of doing business. A number of our competitors have moved to Peru. We are mostly serving domestic clients in Chile. In Panama we have about 4,400 employees. It is very competitive with a low unemployment rate.”

He said operating costs in Nicaragua and Colombia are good, adding to their attractiveness. “Things like rent and telecom are good. The infrastructure in Bogota is good and the mass transit system, Transmilenio, is great for our employees.”

When asked which nearshore countries offer the most favorable incentives and investment climate, Berryman explained that none really offer many incentives to come into the country, but “Nicaragua made it very easy to get established. We have been in Brazil for a long time. Colombia has a good business environment. Chile – if anything – has become a little bit more difficult over time. The strength of the labor unions makes it a little difficult. But the employment and people there are really strong.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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