The languages spoken by contact center agents have long been a point of consideration when an organization evaluates whether or not to do business with a particular company. The same is true for the consumer as they want to speak to individuals who not only speak their language, but speak it well.
The proliferation of Spanish speaking consumers in the United States has driven many organizations to look beyond its borders to contact center providers who can better serve this demographic. Many of these companies have turned to Latin American contact centers to fulfill this need. According to new research, Latin America has also become a location of choice for Spanish companies.
For those Spanish companies seeking to outsource their customer service operations, Latin America has proven to be a competitive location. These companies have discovered however, that the quality of the services offered is not as high as those provided by call centers in Spain. As a result, the number of centers set outside the country is increasing at only a small rate.
Alejandro Zurbano, president of ACE, the Spanish contact center association, noted that the main reason behind the decision to open call centers outside of Spain is similar to that of any organization seeking offshore outsourcing: to control costs.
Zurbano also highlighted that quality is essential for Spanish companies as they use contact centers to find out what customers think of their businesses. In 2006, the number of call centers outside of Spain rose from 9 to 20, accounting for just 3.4 percent of total turnover. More than 225 call centers remained in Spain. Experts agree that despite quality issues, the number of call centers outside of Spain is set to rise over the next few years.
ACE completed a study last year that found the Spanish call center sector generated turnover of 1.38bn euros, up by 10.4 percent. In 2005 however, the increase stood at 24.3 percent.
In 2006, the sector generated 58,677 jobs, compared with 61,400 in 2005. By sectors, the telecom industry was top of the sales ranking last year with 677m euros, followed by banks at 202m euros. The number of calls rose to 600 million, indicating that a target audience of 20 million people received an average of 2 to 3 calls.
It is likely that the quality delivered by Latin American call and contact centers will improve over time as the demand for such progress is high. Plus, in order for this region to compete with that of South Africa, the Philippines and of course India, they must have something more to offer than just price savings.