With 34 years experience working in the outsourcing services market, the Argentine firm Martinez de Alzaga is constantly looking for ways to expand operations from its current position in the southern cone to include more of the continent. Key factors contributing to the success of the business are its flexibility, innovation and willingness to invest and to pay close attention to the needs of existing and potential clients.
“You have to facilitate: it’s what people are looking for when they contract outsourcing services. We work as facilitators; offering solutions both to the ones contracting our services and to the ones we are servicing,” stated Gabriel Gutierrez, Institutional Relations Manager, during an interview with Nearshore Americas.
The services currently offered by Martinez de Alzaga include customer service, payment collection, BPO, back office and telemarketing. At the moment they are working from Argentina and Paraguay, (where they work closely with their strategic partner Py Comunicaciones) but they also attend clients in Chile, Uruguay and Spain and have plans to expand into Peru, Mexico and Brazil.
Daniel Hasperue, the firm’s manager, states that being attentive to the needs of their national and international clients has proven vital. “We always try to listen to them and learn from them; adapting our way of thinking and our system to their needs and learning from their experiences.”
Hasperue notes that Latin American countries have both strengths and weaknesses, accentuated from one country to another. Take, for example, Argentina. Despite the fact that Argentina has been through four severe financial crises, outsourcing service providers have been able to adapt and survive thanks to their innovation and flexibility.
“You have to focus on the day-to-day running. We have seen adverse effects that have impacted on the business. But you have to make plans taking the downturns of the market into account. The business has evolved during the 34 years it has been operating, from both a technological and strategic point of view.”
Gabriel Gutierrez pointed to how upper management has not scrimped when it comes to investing in cutting edge technology. In fact, they recently invested around US$50,000 in setting up an infrastructure to incorporate cloud computing. “We also invest in the vast amount of information we manage. We process one million pieces of data a month, which, while this may not seem a lot when compared with other countries, for us it represents a large amount of information that we need to work hard to save and protect.”
As previously mentioned, Martinez de Alzaga works in association with the Uruguayan business Py Comunicaciones in order to provide outsourcing and BPO services to countries within the region. Currently, they have over 650 employees. According to the executives, Paraguay was chosen, not just because of its proximity to Argentina, but also because of the fiscal advantages currently offered by the Paraguayan government, the possibility of working under the Maquiladora regime when providing external services and the obvious advantages of having a tax rate as low as one percent.
“It was very forward thinking on the part of the business’ president [Gerardo Miranda],” said Gutierrez. “Many Argentine businesses didn’t go with Paraguay, mainly because they considered it to be an incipient market. They went further afield, looking to other countries, like Peru and Chile. Without a doubt, the support offered from the Paraguayan government played a key part in our decision to set up operations there.”
“Paraguay is growing, from both an economic and social point of view. We’ve discovered an expertly qualified and highly intelligent pool of human resources,” adds Hasperue. “Paraguayans offer added value and a high rate of return, not just from a financial point of view, but also when it comes to knowledge.”
Operating from Argentina and Paraguay, the firm offers services to Chile, Uruguay and Spain, with clients such as Mapfre, DirecTV, Nextel, Citi, Diners Club, Movistar, Telefonica, HSBC and Santander.
Martinez de Alzaga describes itself as a multi-Latin business that can quickly adapt to any problems that arise, as well as to the changing needs and expectations of the organizations it deals with. “We understand that we provide a solution for the region, particularly considering our current location, Argentina, with its economic fluctuations and re-adaptations and with the added help from Paraguay, providing value when it comes to costs,” stated Gutierrez.
Looking to the North
Martinez de Alzaga also has its sights set on the U.S. market. In fact, the firm is currently preparing to obtain COPC certification – a strict rating system for the call and contact center industry, establishing a set of high performance practices that help increase the quality of the service and customer satisfaction while, at the same time, reducing operative costs.
Gutierrez recognizes that if they want to enter the U.S. market they will encounter strong competition from rivals in Mexico and the advantages afforded by their proximity to the States and their proficiency with the English language. “We hope to offer a border-less service; to globalize the service. And we know that Mexico is one of our main competitors.”
However, the Institutional Relations Manager does not write off the possibility of joining forces with a Mexican BPO services provider in order to stake their claim in the United States market. “We have no boundaries when it comes to the type of services we offer,” he says.
Hasperue acknowledges that there is now greater collaboration between the Latin American countries and many are deciding to establish strategic alliances: “There is a more authentic social and business sentiment, targeting the areas of expertise of the Mexicans, Chileans, Peruvians and Argentines. We want the best for our areas of expertise and we are joining forces in order to get stronger.”
Hasperue also highlighted the fact that Latin American businesses no longer limit themselves to their own local market but have become global players. This has not come about without effort, as they have had to learn to communicate and collaborate and to improve on their own weaknesses. “We want to learn from this experience, carrying out a business prospecting and adapting to the Mexican, Paraguayan and Chilean markets, incorporating all we have learned in our day-to-day business. Our greatest desire is to be able to say we’ve learned something from all the countries in which we are operating.”
Finally, Hasperue explained how they also have their sights set on operating in Brazil. “We want to do it responsibly, respecting the Brazilian culture. There is no doubt in our minds, we will end up learning a lot.”