GS: What are the main growth areas for this region?
DB:In the past few years, Sitel has experienced great growth in Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama. Additionally, Sitel has cultivated aggressive development with our English-speaking agents in Bogota, Colombia.
We have seen the Brazilian domestic market growing rapidly, and business opportunities are expanding by 20-25% a year. In fact, Sitel opened a state-of-the-art facility located in the city of Sao Paulo in January 2011, doubling our capacity in Brazil, and bringing Sitel’s total employee count in Latin America to over 11,000.
Managua, Nicaragua continues to explode with growth, focusing on the service of English and Spanish-speaking U.S. consumers. As an innovator, Sitel first entered Nicaragua in 2008 to provide customer and tech support for Fortune 1,000 companies in wireless, consumer electronics, media services, banking and other financial product lines. Three years later, we continue to expand in this area due to the location’s unique ability to offer culturally aligned, multilingual talent for a wide range of U.S. consumer markets. Today we are the largest contact center provider in this country. And with the ongoing support of organizations such as ProNicaragua, as well as the established free trade zone regime, Sitel sees the continued investment as a sustainable win-win for our client base and employees.
GS: How does your client feel about your chosen destination in Latin America?
DB:Sitel has an expansive footprint in Latin America. Choosing one specific location can be an interesting dynamic—when Sitel recommends specific locations to our clients, many have preconceived ideas about certain markets without experiencing the destination firsthand. But, as we tour the markets with our clients, and they are able to see our skilled staff in action, plus the existing clients we are servicing in those regions, the perceptions are immediately replaced with a much different reality.
Colombia is a great example of a market that clients tend to have perceived opinions, mostly generated from news stories about crime or corruption.
However, once they experience the real Colombia, its outstanding workers and the vibrant infrastructure, they are able to shape a more accurate depiction of the true opportunity.
GS: How has this destination helped you offer specific advantages to your clients?
DB:The biggest advantage for our clients is convenient travel time and time zone alignment. It takes a full day to travel to the Philippines or India, and clients are forced to work a night shift to align with the North American workday. So, call centers and business functions requiring work to be completed during US business hours lend themselves to a working location in this general time zone.
GS: What challenges are you facing? If any, what are your barriers to increased investment?
DB:Sitel is always on the lookout for oversaturation in a market where we are competing for resources with our competitors or local providers. However, an interesting development is surfacing where our clients desire to enter markets that we see as slightly oversaturated. This may be happening because of regional promotion directly to our clients or even the loss of expertise within the contact center industry. The key is creating a great work environment and offering incentives like continuing education to become the most desirable place to work in these areas. But, at the same time, you need to consider other markets so you don’t saturate an area. We work with our clients to provide an honest assessment of the situation.
Gs: What’s the methodology followed at a company like Sitel?
DB:Great talent. Agents and front line supervisors are the foundation of our business and Sitel always builds our operations from the ground up.
We have an outstanding real estate group at Sitel, and they do a great job of analyzing these locations and markets. In some cases, we are looking at the quality of people, quality of education and the support in the call center. Other times, Sitel looks at the role of government to see if they are active in terms of subsidies, credits or opportunities for job training in preparation for positions in a new call center. Sitel believes it’s not just the quantity and quality of the people; it’s also the participation of the government on a local and national level that can elevate a destination’s capabilities.