Study Examines the Contact Center Market in Central America
August 01, 2007
Central America is becoming an important force in the global contact center arena. As a result, this area needs to be studied and fully understood by both companies considering the region for expansion and competitors to understand the dynamics now and in the future.
Zagada Institute studied this region and found that the Central America Nearshore market has shown impressive growth with its current 21,000 agent population expected to approach 40 percent annually over the next 24 months and to reach nearly 40,000 agents by the end of 2007.
The report also reveals that an estimated 95 percent of existing agents are bilingual and are ideally positioned to continue to serve the customer care needs of U.S. companies focused on the expanding Hispanic market. While this market currently exceeds 43 million, it is expected to return substantial growth over the next decade.
U.S. multinationals and outsourcing specialist companies are being attracted to the region due to the accelerated provisioning of bilingual agents across all segments of the Central American Nearshore market. Cost savings is a big driver and firms are reporting an average savings of 35 percent from their regional operations as well as on projects that are outsourced to Central American third party call center providers.
Levels of growth and service experience are used to categorize the region into three growth niches. The first niche is considered to be Maturing and includes Panama and Costa Rica. The second niche is labeled Contending and includes El Salvador and Guatemala. The final niche that includes Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize is considered Emerging.
In addition to the region’s expanding bilingual agent population, Zagada also identified additional factors that are supporting the growth of the Central America Nearshore market. These factors include stable parliamentary democracies; competitive telecommunication rates and coverage in key urban areas; extensive bilingual programs among the region’s institutes and universities; low cost and adequate physical contact center office capacity in key markets; and business friendly economic development agencies.
Strategic and natural challenges for accelerated expansion also exist for the area. These challenges include the timely development and preparation of sufficient bilingual agents to meet the growing U.S. company demand as well as the need to accelerate connectivity beyond major urban centers.
The study also found that while domestic and internationally focused agent positions will reach 40,000 by the end of this year, overall annual growth in agent positions will increase by an average of 38 percent over the next 24-month period.
Key challenges still remain for the region, but strong growth driven by consumer demand and the promise of cost reduction will continue indefinitely. While it is not expected to dominate the outsourcing market, Central America will be a formidable player.