Mexico’s contact center industry remains one of the largest and most robust in Latin America – and partly as a result of its success, human capital is a prime issue of concern. Over 20,000 companies in the country have some type of contact center activities, according to María Eugenia García, president of Instituto Mexicano de Teleservicios (IMT). IMT was founded 20 year ago to have two major lines of action; the first one being to provide professional services which encompasses consulting, training, a certification program and quality control for companies. To date, IMT has trained about 36,000 people from different companies, and they do consulting work for 320 companies.
Mexico City Base
The biggest companies operating out of the country, reported García, include Telfex, Teleperformance, Atento, Televista, Atencion Telefonica, b-connect and Digitex from Spain. There are also many small to medium sized firms providing telemarketing, collection services and surveying.
Not surprisingly, at 43%, the majority of companies are located in and around Mexico City, almost 20% operate from Monterrey and the balance is shared mainly between Guadalajara, Baja California and Puebla. “We have a healthy distribution now, before 60% of the companies were in Mexico City, and companies are looking to have sites in different parts of the country,” said García, “Guadalajara is growing faster than it was before, and there is a real push by companies like TCS to create IT solutions there.” Contact centers are even opening in Cancun, known more for its party atmosphere, and a favorite Spring Break destination.
Although the perception of violence has had an effect on the contact center sector, García pointed out that none of the companies are closing, and new players have entered the market over the last two years. In terms of number of agent positions, the contact center industry is growing at a rate of 11%, a decrease from prior years which saw annual gains of 18%. García explained, “Growth was more conservative after the world economic situation in 2009. I think it is going to be difficult to reach 18% in the next two years; I can see 12.5%. All of the industries are beginning to grow quickly – we are in a consolidation phase.”
García stated that there are three main challenging areas that need to be overcome: “One is to continue training the people, increasing the number of English speakers and improving the level so we can be competitive with other countries.” After successful training, IMT would certify the students not only in English proficiency, but also in their competency to do the work. They are working with the government on the certification of different types of positions such as collections, customer service, supervisor and quality control.
There is also a concerted effort to hire staff that is older than 40, because –it is believed– they will stay longer and pursue a career
Another challenge is the effective promotion of Mexico, and showing the different advantages of doing business there. “Other countries have attractive incentives in terms of taxes and helping the industry, but we have the competitive advantage because we have the quality and quantity of people needed. But we need to work every day to be more competitive,” García said.
The third pressing challenge is improving the image of the contact center industry, “so people can feel proud of working in a contact center,” observed García, “if we change name to something like customer service or customer care,” more people will be attracted to the sector. There is also a concerted effort to hire staff that is older than 40, because –it is believed– they will stay longer and pursue a career. The main sectors being serviced are banking, finance, education, insurance, healthcare and government.
In July 2011 IMT conducted a survey of 75 outsourcing companies that could be viewed as being representative of the Mexican industry as a whole. Some of the key findings include:
Types of Services (some centers offer multiple services):
88% Customer Service
59% Help Desk
45% Customer Service
11% Help Desk
25% South America
19% Europe –mainly Spain
19% Central America
Some to Africa and Asia
88% Spanish Only
72% Bilingual – English and Spanish
25% Bilingual – Spanish and Portuguese
30% Bilingual – Spanish and French
These 75 companies account for 79,000 workstations and 117,000 employees, which has shown a 60% increase over the last five years.
Despite this progress, there is still much to be done, concluded García, “We need to work harder in terms of human resources, the image, and promotion of our offer.”