The Nearshore Call Center: Reflections on Call Center Week 2014

the nearshore call centerMission accomplished. As a first time attendee, I made the exhausting red eye flight home from Call Center Week in Las Vegas asking if my attendance was worth it. I had mixed emotions – the trip was productive in many ways, reconnecting with and meeting industry friends, colleagues, and competitors, current and potential clients, and listening first hand to a decent sample of the over 1,800 attendees on the latest and greatest of our industry.

Some takeaways to share and discuss:

1. There was an unbelievable sampling of buyers of contact center services and vendors of all types.

That said, the event is large and difficult to navigate. Both in terms of meeting people for the first time and finding contacts that one knows are there. Bigger is not always better; the event was not intimate and it was not an ideal environment to establish close communication.

2. There are more and more nearshore players participating in the event and trying to carve out share in the US marketplace. Likewise, there were a few outsourced Hispanic-focused contact center providers present. One might think that Callzilla is not in favor of that; on the contrary, this means that the segment is growing and healthy and there is sufficient business to be shared.

3. One thing that struck me is the relative lack of awareness coming from the US marketplace about the nearshore vendor community.  This represents both a threat and an opportunity for those companies like Callzilla that do operate from nearshore locations, and I believe the onus is upon us to educate potential buyers.

In the coming months we will be spearheading a couple of initiatives to foster dialogue about the nearshore call center opportunities to reach the US Hispanic Market.

- We’re advocating for internal Training and QA programs which will be more heavily influenced and driven by Gamification (which Callzilla introduced in January 2014). As we gain greater insight into how to introduce Gamification into Training, we know that agent motivation and engagement increase which have a directly positive impact on our results, and we look forward to enhancing our use of this tool throughout our operations.

- Another important distinction for nearshore call centers centers is preparing for ISO 9001 and 27000 quality certification. We estimate that by the beginning of 2015, Callzilla will be fully certified. Quality is so critical to our clients, and we have made the commitment to ourselves and our clients to ensure that every element of our operation is driven by pre-determined processes and procedures, which will enable us to more seamlessly align ourselves with our clients’ objectives and goals and to function as a leading results-focused service provider.

4. A recurring topic that emanated from large scale US outsourcers regarded their partnerships with nearshore call centers and their frustration with these nearshore call center providers over lack of results and productivity.

When I probed deeper to understand better, one company told me that they had opened up a project in a Central American country for B2B outbound sales and lead generation in English, and based on the lackluster results they were beginning to think that leveraging a nearshore call center partner was not viable. I politely asked my counterpart why he would task call center in a non-native speaking nearshore country with selling to B2B buyers in English. B2B Selling in an outsourced capacity is a service that very few are skilled at – even in the US. This company had unrealistic expectations for success for the center they hired and likely set that center up for failure.

Another example of “on-shore misunderstanding of near-shore” came from a vendor manager of a US company. I explained to her that Callzilla is headquartered in the US and we own and operate a nearshore call center that provides customer service in Spanish and English to US companies for their communications and interactions with US customers. Her response was that her company didn’t currently require service in Latin America. This misunderstanding, it turns out, is not uncommon. There are still many US companies that don’t understand that companies like Callzilla serve the US market transparently from nearshore locations across millions of daily contacts. Despite the growing emphasis on nearshore and an increasing pool of outsourced operations in the nearshore world, the US marketplace, surprisingly, is still immature in its understanding of the business opportunities in nearshore supplier markets.

The Roundtable on Hispanic Customer Experience

At Call Center Week, Callzilla led a roundtable discussion on Hispanic Customer Experience that was well attended by brands and outsourcers alike. Telecom, hotel & leisure, retail, e-commerce, and the health care industries were well represented at the roundtable. As mentioned in our previous blog, the Hispanic customer experience is like licorice; not everyone likes it or understands its importance, but those that do, REALLY like it and understand how important it is as the next great wave and trend in the customer care industry.

We’ll Be Back at Call Center Week Next Year

The organizing group at IQPC did a great job of working with Callzilla to facilitate our participation. Hats off to Will Jennings and Matthew Giampiccolo and others for their collaborative spirit and hospitality.

Callzilla will work hard to develop the new relationships forged at Call Center Week and we look forward to remaining an active participant in this event and other IQPC related events.

The summer will be quite busy for Callzilla with many planned visits to meet with prospective clients interested in Callzilla’s nearshore customer service solutions and with existing client visits with whom we will continue to build valued partnerships. And the World Cup is a fun way to pass some time over the Summer (as evidenced by our LinkedIn page – make sure you follow our page) – Just as committed as our agents are to supporting their home team, they are equally committed to supporting your customer service needs for your U.S. Hispanic customers.

Neal is Callzilla’s President and directly oversees Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Operations and Finance for Callzilla. Originally from Washington DC, Neal’s career allowed him to follow his passion for all things Spanish and his experiences living in Colombia enabled his immersion in the language and culture. He fully understands how culture affects the sales process and helps Callzilla’s clients to do a better job of understanding the nuances of this sometimes fragmented marketplace to better position their Hispanic call center programs for success Prior to starting Callzilla, Neal held positions in multinational corporations such as MCI where he oversaw their international wholesale telecommunications business and spent three years leading their Latin American marketing efforts in Mexico, South and Central America. During a stint at Wunderman Cato Johnson in New York he coordinated the agency’s international direct marketing business activities. Prior to that, Neal lived in Medellin, Colombia for three years while consulting for the Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers as well other multinational corporations.