Sunday, May 01, 2005

Off-shore call centres in Latin America

Excerpts from an article in Forbes by Kerry A. Dolan:
Banks, cell phone companies, airlines. Name just about any consumer industry and it's likely they've got a plan to woo Latino customers. Not surprising, given that the Latino demographic is a hot one, and getting bigger. Latinos are this country's fastest-growing ethnic group, expected to account for 15% of the population, or 48 million people, by 2010.

So it was only a matter of time before U.S. companies began applying the lessons of offshoring--moving services to cheaper, faraway locations--to their Latino customer base. Lately, a handful of big U.S. companies have joined the offshoring wave and opened call centers staffed with Spanish speakers not in India, but in places such as Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. Offshoring is still nascent in Latin America, but interest in the region is picking up, in software programming as well as call centers.

Nowadays, if you call American Airlines and want to make a reservation in Spanish, your call is routed to a Mexico City call center staffed by 300 reservations agents. Delta Air Lines serves its Spanish-speaking clientele from Santiago, Chile.


Mexico's proximity to the U.S. and the significant drop in real estate prices are two factors beginning to lure U.S. companies to send office work south of the border. Rent for space in prime buildings in Mexico City has fallen to $25 per square foot per year from a high of $50 a few years ago, says Azcue [Pedro Azcue, president of real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle's Mexican operations]. As the wage gap between Asia and Latin America shrinks, it's likely we'll see even more offshoring activity in Latin American locales like Mexico City.

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