The Europeans are coming, and with them, an acceleration in the CALA-Euro sourcing connection.
Though already attractive to potential clients hailing from the Old Continent, Latin American and Caribbean (CALA) countries are glowing with even brighter light in the eyes of European companies seeking to outsource business operations.
Such growing interest is not a simple matter of cost-cutting in a context of crushing inflation or a search for much-needed stability as war rages between Russia and Ukraine. There are several factors inherent to the CALA region itself (plus others that have arisen from recent company needs) which have positioned it as a potential competitor for BPO destinations traditionally preferred by Europe, such as South Africa, India, the Philippines and the Eastern European block.
NSAM took a look at what European clients and Nearshore vendors had to say on the matter, identifying the five main features fueling the CALA-Euro connection in BPO.
Those Time Zones
Latin American and Caribbean BPO vendors have made the best out of being aligned with the time zones of major US cities, becoming attractive options for investment and competing directly with BPO hotspots such as India and the Philippines for the attention (and dollars) of North American clients.
“I think you need to be on the Nearshore; I think there’s a massive opportunity”—Neal Sturrock, Global Operations Director at Foodhub
A similar phenomenon is happening in the eyes of European companies with growing ambitions to embark into the North American market. Countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Jamaica offer more comfortable spots for delivery of BPO services to the US and Canada, with time zone alignment being counted among the major perks in their favor.
“I think the time zone of this region is something to really take advantage of”, commented Neil Sturrock, Global Operations Director at Foodhub, a UK-based online food delivery platform that’s making inroads into the US market.
“I think you need to be on the Nearshore; I think there’s a massive opportunity,” he added.
The Need for Speed
Increasing demand for CX has pushed companies into a mad scramble to cover their talent needs as fast and as effectively as possible. Under such pressures, Europeans see in Latin America and the Caribbean an alternative source of talent that is conveniently close to one of the most attractive markets in the world.
“There’s no way we can accomplish that purely in the US, due to the situation with talent, due to the need of each early stage, and even developed, company to grow,” explained Nessy Ismet, Client Experience Director at Blueground, a Greek apartment-leasing firm headquartered in NYC.
The situation complicates further due to the changing landscape in CX. “Hardcore customer service” isn’t cutting it anymore. CX and BPO providers in general are expected to align with the culture,identity and mission of their clients.
“There’s no way we can accomplish that [scaling] purely in the US, due to the situation with talent, due to the need of each early stage, and even developed, company to grow”—Nessy Ismet, Client Experience Director at Blueground
“There’s a huge elimination that is happening in terms of tasks. Talent and skill level that is multidisciplinary, that can scale globally without any limitations of locations and language, but works towards a common mission, has become extremely critical,” added Ismet. “Companies change their roadmaps every six months, and you have to be able to adapt to that.”
The Caribbean “Angloshore”
Though less popular than Latin American giants such as Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica, several Caribbean islands are crystallizing into what experts have called an “Angloshore”, which is turning heads at the other side of the Atlantic.
“I can see there are sleeping giants in the [Caribbean] region at the moment,” commented Sturrock. “Looking at Jamaica, it is leading the way in the English-speaking Caribbean. We’re also going to see some of the smaller islands getting on the act.”
Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados have grown in popularity among BPO clients over the years thanks in great part to their native English-speaking workforce, which gives it an edge over other territories in the Asia-Pacific region and even in Latin America.
More importantly, several Caribbean islands fall under what is known as “Common Law Jurisdiction”. This means that their legal systems are –at least partly– similar to that of the UK and many of its former colonies, including the US and Canada, a perk that provides investors with much-needed familiarity.
A Wealth of Languages
Though not mentioned as often, European clients have grown to appreciate the diversity of languages in Latin America. Spanish dominates the territory, but there’s also Portuguese and a growing population of English learners. In the Caribbean, English is spoken natively.
“As a client, it gives me such choices. I got Spanish, Portuguese, English. As a client selecting partners, that gives me a lot of confidence that there’s a big pool to choose from,” commented Sturrock.
Given the weight of English as a tool for success in business, inhabitants of the region are well aware of the usefulness of being multilingual. With that in mind, several languages of European origin have grown in popularity among students in Latin America, with French, Italian and Portuguese being the most popular. Even Ukranian is on the rise.
A Chance to Spread Out
Experts have argued in favor of a location strategy that leverages new trends in work and delivery models to push towards diversification. Although chasing the workforce is what drives site location now, the fact is that remote employment and hybrid models give companies a chance to cast a much wider net in their hunt for talent.
European customers are coming to this realization, and several are choosing to venture into Latin America and the Caribbean in an attempt to spread operations and get the most out of the advantages of a diversified location strategy.
“What people are realizing now is that you can spread operations through multiple regions to get what you need to run your business properly,” said Yoni Epstein, Founder and CEO at Nearshore BPO firm itel. “The Nearshore is a place for guiding the future of CX.”