Let’s talk shop. Let’s talk about other great places to build your next call center besides the USA, Manila, and Costa Rica. Barranquilla probably doesn’t pop into your head first, does it? We’re here to tell you that if you aren’t considering Barranquilla as your next destination, then you are missing out on a big win for your company. In this post, we are going to review all the misconceptions, the wonderful things, and the operational benefits of making this your next contact center home.
First, some background info …
Well positioned in South America, Colombia is a central location within the Americas. With a population of more than 48.6 million people, it’s the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Some of its major cities include: Bogotá, Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla. The economy in Colombia has been growing more than 4 percent In recent years, and agencies are considering it an investment-grade country. This must be why analysts such as Gartner have cited Colombia as an opportunity for offshore contact center service delivery. It’s also a relatively accessible country with more than 700 weekly direct international flights connecting it to every region in the world. There are also several daily connections ranging in duration from 8 hours (from Los Angeles) to as little as 90 minutes (Caracas). To top it all off, Colombia is in the middle of 5 time zones and it shares a zone with important business centers like New York, Toronto, and Miami. Coupled with investment, infrastructure and high education standards, Colombia is a stable and easy place to do business.
Why Barranquilla over the cities mentioned above?
As much as we love this location, it hasn’t always been the favorite amongst other international companies and we feel we owe it to you to share what we’ve learned about this great city. Barranquilla has a lot to offer:
Great Talent Pools
With a metropolitan population of more than two million, several major universities and more than 20 bilingual schools, Barranquilla has the right attributes for success. The local government fully supports the call center industry through the funding of an English program with 250 graduates per year.
Once you have spent some time in the city, you’ll understand that the working culture is one that you should strive to achieve. The people in this city are not only hardworking but they are also happy, laidback, and have a positive outlook on work/life balance. This is a great culture to have within your organization and lends itself to more productive employees and fewer work-related problems.
According to Study Language, while Spanish stands apart as the most common language in Colombia, the Ethnologue database lists a total of 101 languages for the country, including Arabic. According to this estimate, that makes it one of the most linguistically diverse nations in the Americas and the world. Barranquilla also has the largest bilingual population in Latin America. Due to their neutral accent, the people of Barranquilla are easily understood by speakers of all regions when speaking in English and Spanish — a major plus for international companies.
Barranquilla is a beautiful city just south of the capitol and only 1.5 hours from Cartagena, a major tourist city with access to 12 international airlines. With luxurious hotels and stunning landscapes, this city is a great location for both business and pleasure.
Barranquilla is also home to Carnival De Barranquilla. The festivities attract hundreds of folk groups, international artists and just about everyone in Barranquilla. During the carnival, which UNESCO declared a World Cultural Heritage Event in 2003, attendees revel in the city’s streets to the rhythms of cumbia and mapalé. Since 1903, the Battle of the Flowers parade has included characters such as the Momo Carnival King, María Moñitos and the Cayman man. It’s certainly an event you don’t want to miss!
Still not convinced?
There a few things that are probably making you second guess the switch to Colombia or Barranquilla and we’d like to address some common concerns.
Safety is a number one priority for your company and its employees, so it’s important that we bring all the facts to the table on this topic. The strategic location of Barranquilla on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean provides more stability, security, and access to fiber-optic networks and the Internet.
Over the last several years, the media has done Colombia a disservice in the way they portray the country and the safety of employers and tourists there. According to Barranquilla Life, the Mayor of Barranquilla has invested over $25 million USD into the city in the last two years in hopes to increase security. This investment resulted in hiring 1,200+ police officers, building new police stations within neighborhoods and installing 820 new video cameras in the Metropolitano Stadium.
Due Barranquilla’s location it has never been a dangerous city, not even in the worst years of Colombia’s history.
Let’s not beat around the bush — Barranquilla offers all the perks of bigger cities and surrounding countries, but at a fraction of the cost and without compromising quality. Everything from real estate cost to salaries are significantly lower in Colombia as compared to Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, etc.
With our own centers, SYKES decided that a free-trade zone is necessary to be competitive, but these are typically in unattractive areas. This will result in lower costs, thus achieving the lowest prices we can offer clients. We then carefully chose a building in a good area, free of flooding and with the right attributes to house a contact center. The building is also close to universities, malls and important avenues with public transportation routes available nearby for our employees. These features ensure that employees will work in a clean, vibrant environment with all the facilities and safety they need to do their jobs well.
So, what now?
There is a considerable amount of planning and resources that go into setting up a new contact center, but you don’t have to do it alone. SYKES has years of experience in the industry and has successfully implemented and operated contact center sites for clients all over the world. Our experienced management team has worked in Latin America for decades, many members of which are native to the region. This caliber of experience positions SYKES as a leader in international contact center management and provides our clients with the successful interactions that their customers need. In addition to our management team, our primary operations in Colombia include management in telecommunications, customer service, technical support, and technology.
SYKES didn’t reinvent the wheel in Barranquilla. We’re applying the proven methods and techniques that have served our clients well over the years. This includes the way we attract and recruit people, our training and development methods (including the SYKES Language Academy), and an operations culture that balances the needs of each program with those of the people working on it to achieve the right outcome.
We believe that you should have all the information to make an informed decision — so you can provide your customers with the best experience possible. We also believe that Colombia is a country worth looking at for your next contact center. Many international companies have chosen Colombia to be their region base, which is a testament to the hard work done to change direction, overcome the past, and pave the way for the future.
SYKES is a leading, global digital-marketing and customer-care outsourcer. SYKES provides differentiated, full lifecycle customer-engagement services to Global 2000 companies and their end consumers at key touchpoints. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, SYKES’ comprehensive suite of solutions addresses the needs of major companies around the world — serving such industries as communications, financial services, technology, healthcare, transportation and leisure, insurance, retail and energy.