miércoles, 21 de mayo de 2008

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2008

Nicaraguan Call Center Industry - Nearshoring

The case for Near-Shoring

There are not too many accounts of satisfied customers serviced by someone on the other side of the globe, speaking in an unfamiliar accent.

Clearly, BPO has been affected by the "fatigue factor," and many US corporations are now actively shifting some or all of their customer care to locations nearer to home - physically, culturally, and linguistically.

Much of the BPO exodus from Asia lands in Central America, and Nicaragua is becoming one of the destinations of choice. The call center business in Nicaragua is in its infancy and booming for reasons that are easy to understand:

  • Near-shore location. Managua is three and a half hours from Atlanta and less than three hours from Miami. This means that US executives in the Southern States can attend meetings without having to stay overnight. Managua is well served by Continental, Delta and Taca, with connecting hubs in Atlanta and Miami. Travel is relatively inexpensive.
  • Same Time Zone. Sometimes a day is lost in dealing with contact centers in different time zones. Local management in Nicaragua, however, is available during US working hours, which means that both problems and opportunities can be addressed immediately. It also makes working in two shifts easier and less costly.
  • Unique Language Skills. Some 500,000 Nicaraguans have spent much of their lives in the US and have only recently moved back home. Many of them have grown up in the US, with English as their first language. There is a deep pool of bilingual talent in Nicaragua looking for employment, so that capacity is not a gating factor as it is elsewhere in Latin America, and scale-up is easy.
  • Cultural Affinity. Americans find Managua remarkably like "home." There is a strong natural affinity with the US, where many of the call center agents have grown up. If you ask Nicaraguans what it is they are best at, the answer is often "baseball and business!"
  • A Neutral Accent. The Nicaraguan accent is certainly the gentlest and most neutral in Latin America. It is difficult to "place" Nicaraguans, whether they speak English or Spanish. Their accent is equally agreeable to North and Latin Americans.
  • Value For Money. Despite the high level of education of its population, Nicaragua is still largely a rural economy, with one of the lowest wages in Latin America. A job in a contact center is an attractive proposition in Nicaragua, and attrition and phone-fatigue are unheard of.
  • The Hispanic Opportunity. At present, Hispanics account for only 6% of service calls, but it is the fastest growing part of the US population. The purchasing power of this part of the population is expected to rise at twice the national rate, to reach $923B by 2010. 50% of the Hispanic population in the US is under 35 years old, and 85% speak Spanish at home. Serving this population in its native language is both a challenge and an opportunity.