Honduras is holding its own in the Nearshore BPO space, as another US company, Gogo, a global in-flight connectivity service provider, taps into the country’s multilingual talent pool for its text chat support.
Most of Gogo’s incoming customer support comes from the US, but the company has a growing international presence, counting British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Japan Air, AeroMéxico, and GOL in Brazil among its clients. This requires a larger global support network, part of which is now in Honduras.
Jerry Oversen, Vice President at Gogo, tells us about the company’s experience with Honduran BPO, as well as touching upon the value of human agents over chatbots when it comes to text chat services.
Nearshore Americas: How is Gogo leveraging the support of external services vendors, both globally and on the Nearshore?
Jerry Oversen: As a global company, we have a lot of people here in the US who work from home, we have presence in Japan, and we also have this newer presence in Honduras, where we work with BPO provider StarTek to help with our live text chat service. They’re doing a great job for us.
A lot of the work is a combination of regular e-commerce, billing, login and registration, but also some light to medium desktop support, such as DNS problems, connectivity problems and device issues. Most of it is on e-commerce, such as usernames, passwords, and product queries.
Nearshore Americas: What have been your positive experiences of working with StarTek and its team of Honduran agents?
Jerry Oversen: One of the biggest surprises was the ability for them to serve clients in multiple languages. They have English, Spanish, Portuguese, and even French. The English skills and levels of cultural affinity are very high, particularly in the capital of Tegucigalpa – in many cases our customers have no idea with whom they’re interacting, or where they are. We’re getting a highly educated workforce too, with a high percentage of agents holding college degrees or in college working on them.
Obviously the cost benefits are best when compared to our other global locations, but the quality is on par with – or even better – than those other markets. For us, that’s absolutely critical, and we’d prefer not to have one without the other.
Nearshore Americas: Where would you like to see improvements in the service provided from Honduras?
Jerry Oversen: From a day-to-day operational standpoint, we’re extremely happy. The country has exceeded our expectations. Overall, we’ve seen the country’s infrastructure improve, such as the electricity supply. There is still a level of reliance on backup diesel generators, but we haven’t been impacted much by this issue of power downtime. Long term, however, they will need to address the issue further.
Nearshore Americas: What was the experience like when first deciding which vendor to choose? Did you have any interactions with the government or with business development agencies?
Jerry Oversen: We went directly to StarTek. We did site visits, talked to other StarTek customers who were working with them in the same location, all of whom were very happy. We were also able to talk to employees at the site, held roundtables, and found them to be very transparent, allowing us some deep access into their company.
I know from experience that you have to work with vendors on expectations, so we laid out some realistic expectations of what we wanted to see and how we wanted to spend our time. When we started looking, I knew their pitch was coming, so I made sure that we had an agenda that we wanted to pursue, and they were very responsive to that.
Nearshore Americas: In providing live text chat services, are you utilizing any AI or chatbot services, or is it purely agent-based? How are you training them?
Jerry Oversen: It’s purely agent-based right now. We have a trainer in Chicago who goes to Honduras for new employee training and refresher training. We do some “train the trainer”, but we’re much more comfortable doing it ourselves. We’ll probably stay hands-on instead of handing this over to the vendor, mainly because it’s worked for us well so far.
In my opinion, chatbots aren’t even close to being ready. No-one has really demonstrated any measureable ROI on the technology so far. I’ve seen companies sending a lot of volume to bots, but still requiring agents to oversee them the whole time. They still require guardrails that limit the tech to specific use cases, so I think it’s a matter of years before we see any real ROI.
What experiences have you had with Honduras BPO providers? Is the presence of a multilingual workforce enticing enough for you to consider it? Let us know in the comments.