Brendan B. Read
09/05/2002; 12:45 am ET
In recent years site
selectors, consultants, outsourcers and economic development
agencies have been touting India and the Philippines as
low-cost and high-labor-availability alternatives to the US,
UK and Canada.
But the terrible events of
last year have made many companies leery about locating to
India (which has had military clashes with nuclear-armed
Pakistan); and to the Philippines, where terrorists allegedly
linked to Al-Qaida kidnapped and murdered Americans.
There is also growing concern
about dialect and quality from offshore locations that risk
turning off customers.
Site selection experts report
that American call centers are taking a new look at near-shore
locations that promise lower costs than the US, good service,
faster and more convenient access and fewer security risks.
These locations include Canada, the Caribbean (Jamaica,
Barbados, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago); and Latin
Many of these countries,
notably Canada, Mexico and Chile, also have strong domestic
economies and provide markets for American goods and services
that need call centers to support and sell to them.
But site selectors are
weighing the near-shore locations' benefits against their
higher costs, fewer qualified workers, and poorer education
levels compared with offshore locations.
King White, vice president of
Trammell Crow Call Center Services (Dallas, TX), says many
outsourcers are still going offshore. But the leading players
and Fortune 500 in-house operations are looking at near-shore
"That attests to a corporate
caution about going and outsourcing offshore," says White.
"But there is also a growing resistance to send inbound calls
to India due to dialect and quality control."
The Near-Shore Advantage
Geography, and ease and
safety of travel, have always been an important benefit to
Flights to Canadian,
Caribbean or Central American cities require two to four
hours, versus 18 to 20 hours for a transpacific flight. There
are many and often direct flights from several US cities to
these near-shore communities. Some Canadian locations are an
easy drive, train or fast-ferry ride from US metro areas.
But the post-9/11 security
and travel issues give a more important benefit to locating
call centers near-shore. John Boyd, site selection consultant
with The Boyd Company (Princeton, NJ), says additional
security checks and security breaches increase air travel time
Canada and the Caribbean are
politically stable. In the wake of 9/11, the US Administration
has sought and obtained cooperation from Canada and Mexico to
prevent infiltration by terrorists. The US regards near-shore
nations (especially Canada) under its security umbrella.
Some of the Central and South
American countries that were wracked 10 to 20 years ago by
political turmoil, Chile, El Salvador and Panama, have
stabilized and are actively seeking foreign investments.
But observers note that,
given the current political climate, even the minor issues of
near-shore locations, like the comparatively benign specter of
Quebec separatism, have gained significance.
"The [mere] mention of
separatism is all that it takes to drop a place like Quebec
from consideration," says Brian French, managing director of
NAI TeleCenter Services (Mississauga, Ontario). He adds that
Quebec, despite aggressive marketing and generous incentives,
is underrepresented in call center workstations for its
population compared with the rest of Canada.
Near-shore locations offer
workers at wages lower than the US' though not as low as
India's. According to Trammell Crow, typical hourly wages in
US dollars are $2.50-$3 in Jamaica and $5-$7 in Canada
compared to $7.50-$14 in the US. In contrast, India's typical
hourly wages in US dollars are just $1-$2.
But many call centers may
receive better value for the higher pay. Canada and Caribbean
countries, say observers, offer a superior customer service
culture and a greater cultural affinity to Americans. Many
parts of Canada and the Caribbean depend on tourism, mostly
As regards to cost,
education, living standards, infrastructure, stability and
call center sophistication, Canada is most like the US; the
Caribbean is most like India and the Philippines.
But Alton Martin, president
of Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC; Amherst, NY;
www.copc.com), a performance standards, testing and
consulting firm, says that comparatively few Caribbean workers
have college educations. The Philippines and India, by
contrast, boast 100% college-educated agent teams.
Site selectors say the
Caribbean countries are suitable for low-end call centers such
as airline reservations, credit card sales, collections and
order taking. The Caribbean's low wages and loyal workforces
offer a compelling economic case to call centers in these
spaces. In the US, these centers tend to experience high agent
But, say market watchers, the
tradeoffs are power facilities, telecom networks and offices
that are more expensive, or built to inferior standards, than
those in the US.
Trinidad and Tobago has a
large ethnic Indian population, with many of the same cultural
traits as Indians, including poor empathy with customers, add
observers. As it lies just off the coast of Venezuela, the
nation also has many Spanish speakers, enabling a call center
to serve Latin American countries.
"Trinidad and Tobago agents
have good sales skills, [but] less empathy with customers than
those in the other parts of the Caribbean," says Philip Cohen,
a teleservices consultant based in Skelleftea, Sweden. "The
country now has a critical mass of call center expertise, with
nine call centers operating in 2001."
Canada's Unique Locations
Canada supports the same
range of call centers as the US: basic inbound and outbound;
high-end multimedia voice; on-line financial services; and
tech support. That's a greater spread than offered by other
near-shore and offshore locations.
Canada also has a large
multilingual population, centered chiefly in cities such as
Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Canada can therefore serve
customers in most parts of the world, unlike the Caribbean,
India and the Philippines.
But Canada also offers lower
business costs than the US with more available labor.
NAI's French reports that
only 1.5% of Canada's labor force works in call centers, which
is half the 3% level site selectors claim will saturate a
community for call centers. He reviewed a study that indicates
that 5% of the US labor pool is working in call centers.
Canada's unemployment rate
continues to be higher than the American rate: 7.5% compared
to 5.9%. But the US jobless totals are higher because the US
has nearly ten times the population of Canada.
Being next door to the US,
and drenched in US media, Canadians know more about Americans
than the residents of any other country.
more of an option for quality call centers," Boyd points out.
"They have a much more highly educated population and advanced
low-cost telecom networks, clear accent, and a strong history
of successful call centers."
Not surprisingly, Canada
remains a leading alternative location for American firms to
serve the US and the Canadian market.
According to Steve Demmings,
president of Site Selection Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba), new
and expanded American call centers created 80% of 12,500-plus
Canadian call center jobs in the first half of 2002.
But COPC's Martin questions
how long Canada will keep its cost advantage over the US.
Canada's costs are no different from low-cost US locations
once the exchange rate is discounted. (The Canadian dollar has
been climbing in value relative to the US dollar. Currently,
the rate stands at $0.64 US to $1 CDN, but it has been
"Canada is an exchange rate
play that depends on how wide the range is," says Martin. "The
labor cost savings in India, the Philippines and Caribbean
countries like Jamaica are real [and not dependent on exchange
But arguably so are economic
differences between Canada and the US that have kept an
exchange rate spread for several years.
Boyd calculates that the
Canadian dollar will remain competitive at 75 cents to 90
cents: the low end for basic call handling, the high end for
tech support and other high-value calls; and 80 cents for
"The Canadian dollar's rise
hasn't stopped call centers from locating there," he says.
"And it doesn't minimize Canada's labor availability and
Another issue with Canada is
the limited supply of real estate suitable for call centers,
especially in small cities where there is high unemployment.
There are few suburban locations that call centers, especially
The glut of large empty
storefronts resulting from the closure of Eaton's chain and
mergers of hardware chains has largely disappeared. New
buildings are difficult to come by (but not impossible)
because call centers typically lease for no more than five to
seven years; landlords and financiers need double that to
break even on construction costs.
Demmings does not think
property is an issue for American companies considering
He points out that Canadians
are more willing to work downtown. He says 80% to 90% of
Winnipeg, Manitoba's 12,000 call center jobs are downtown.
decision-makers have preconceived notions about Canada,"
Demmings says. "They believe that we have the same
crime-ridden unattractive downtowns and poor mass transit,
like in many of their cities. And they think our voice/data
infrastructure is poor. But that's not the case. Canada has
vibrant downtowns, good transit and people willing to work
downtown. And the infrastructure is excellent."
The Latin American
New near-shore locations are
the predominantly Spanish-speaking countries, such as the
Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, and Puerto
Rico, a US Commonwealth.
Proponents claim that call
centers in their countries can support American customers for
25% to 65% less than American border communities can. Call
centers locating there can tap English speakers.
But the big opportunity is to
leverage these countries' and Puerto Rico's Spanish speakers
to serve the US' large and growing Hispanic population.
The six largest and most
prosperous Spanish-speaking countries in the region -
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela -
collectively have over 228 million residents.
According to the US Census
more than 35 million Americans in 2000 were Hispanic, up 57.9%
from 22.4 million in 1990. The total US population only grew
Mexico, which has 102 million
people and is a member of NAFTA, is clearly the Latin American
near-shore locations heavyweight. Like Canada, many Mexican
locations are easily accessible from the US by car.
Smaller Latin American
nations may appeal to call centers. The economy of the
Dominican Republic, a stable country with 8 million people,
has changed from agriculture to services, including
telecommunications and energy. Many companies occupy
free-trade zones. At least one outsourcer targeting the US
is successfully operating there.
El Salvador, with 6.4 million
people, markets a high (95%) literacy rate among urbanites.
The capital, San Salvador, has nearly one-third of the
country's population and a neutral Spanish accent.
Panama, with 2.9 million
people, offers excellent telecom infrastructure, available
office space, plus excellent schools and a strong banking
sector. Panama's biggest asset is its bilingualism, aided by
English-language instruction in schools. The country also
sports US cable TV availability - legacies of US possession of
the Canal Zone that ended in 1999.
SITEL (Baltimore, MD;
www.sitel.com) opened a call center in Panama in
January 2002. It also has centers in Colombia and Mexico.
"Panama is a great location
for English and Spanish calls from the US," says Dale Saville,
SITEL's executive vice president. "It offers very competitive
pricing and an excellent English-speaking workforce. It's also
a prime location for a regional call center to [service] calls
for all of Central America."
Puerto Rico, with 3.9 million
residents and a 12% jobless rate, is aggressively seeking
bilingual call centers. Similar to Canada's pitch, the
nation's backers argue that it has slightly lower costs than
the US. But, as an American possession, the island enjoys
access and security benefits.
"That Puerto Rico is part of
the US is a major contributing factor in companies considering
it since 9/11," says Boyd.
Puerto Rico's minimum wage is
the same as in the US: $5.15/hour. That's more than Mexico's
$3.50/hour, but less than the reported $7/hour in US border
towns, such as Laredo, TX.
Proponents say that more
agents are willing to work at levels closer to the minimum in
Puerto Rico - $6 per hour for customer service agents - than
in the rest of the US. Puerto Ricans do not pay income tax; so
they keep more of their earnings.
"The traditional destinations
of call centers serving US Hispanic speakers - Arizona, South
Florida and Texas - are suffering from inflationary wage
pressures," Boyd points out. "Puerto Rico has abundant,
affordable, high-quality labor."
How acceptable is the English
and Spanish to customers from these near-shore locations?
Are there sufficient numbers
of top-quality English- and Spanish-speaking agents at
affordable wages? And how strong is the cultural affinity
between them and Americans?
SITEL's Saville says that
Monterrey, Mexico, which is 150 miles from the US border, has
sufficiently bilingual workers. But parts of Mexico further
from the border may not.
exception of border areas, Mexico's agents lack sufficient
English fluency for our clients who ask for it," he says.
There are also questions
about the quality of English spoken in Puerto Rico.
"The English spoken in Puerto
Rico is more understandable than in India because the Puerto
Ricans know American idioms," says Engel. "But it is not good
enough. I would only recommend Puerto Rico to American firms
with predominantly Spanish-speaking customers."
And what about Puerto Rican
Spanish? Spanish speakers say the delivery is fast-paced, like
Cuban Spanish (Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish are to Hispanic
ears what New York English is to American ears); and it's
popular only where there are many Puerto Rican Hispanics, such
as in the Northeast.
"Puerto Rican Spanish is very
unlike Mexican-Hispanic, which seems to be the majority of the
US Hispanic consumer market," says White.
Is there enough demand for
pan-Hispanic (i.e., Spanish- and Portugese-speaking) call
centers to serve the US and Latin America, as opposed to
locating in US border cities that can serve English- and
Observers think not. Trammell
Crow's White notes that he has not seen as large of an influx
of Spanish-speaking call centers into Latin America as he has
English-speaking call centers moving to Canada.
SITEL, and TeleTech (www.teletech.com)
have set up operations in Latin America. But the
activity does not constitute a trend. The region, say
observers, has not sufficiently developed to attract a large
number of call centers.
When the market justifies
predominantly Hispanic-only call centers, the prime
competition will be between Mexico and Puerto Rico, say
experts. While Puerto Rico has a better education system and
infrastructure, Mexico's will catch up over the next five to
"Mexico is potentially the
optimal location in Latin America to service the US Hispanic
consumer," says White. "The populations in the leading cities
are large; the country's political system and infrastructure
are stable; and the access is great."
SMART MOVES WITH COPC'S
Despite the cost benefits,
many American companies are not ready to outsource outside the
US. There are three reasons: lack of awareness; a desire to
keep as many operations as possible in America; plus the
complexity that selecting a near-shore or offshore outsourcer
August's International Outsourcing article).
You can't drop by an
outsourcer located in Kingston, Jamaica as easily as you can
an outsourcer in Jamaica, Queens, NY.
To enable successful offshore
outsourcing, Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC;
Amherst, NY) launched in May 2002 SmartMove. The offering
comprises consulting services and software tools to identify
reliable, professional and cost-effective outsourcers.
SmartMove's toolkit includes
vendor assessment, methodology and measurement reporting.
"We've had many companies
contact us and say 'Our CEO wants us to outsource to India
because he read how cheap the labor is,'" says Alton Martin,
COPC's president. "They don't realize how complex outsourcing
is. And when I ask if they've ever outsourced before, many of
them say no."
Challenges and Opportunities
As Canada attracts call
centers, there are both challenges and opportunities in
finding the right location.
Several cities may be priced
out of the market for low-end call centers because many
similar call centers have located there. Site selectors cite
Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax,
Nova Scotia; London, Ontario; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, as
They also say corporate
headquarter cities such as Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary,
Alberta, have become too costly with too many other better
paying employment opportunities.
But these communities can
support high-end in-house and outsourced financial services,
tech support and sales centers. For example, Xerox opened its
second Canadian TeleWeb sales center in Halifax in April 2002
with 45 agents. Xerox's first center is in Saint John.
In November 2002, Microsoft
Canada will open its first Canadian-based Microsoft Global
Technical Support Centre (GTSC) with 50 reps. The center will
co-locate with a new headquarters in suburban Mississauga,
next door to Toronto.
The Mississauga GTSC will
respond to English-language support requests regarding
Microsoft Exchange Server software and the Windows 2000
operating system from Western Hemisphere customers. It joins
GTSC centers in North Carolina, Texas and Washington State.
But higher-paying in-house
call centers should look at locations that have attracted many
lower-end outsourced call centers. James Trobaugh, senior vice
president CB Richard Ellis Call Center Solutions Group
(Phoenix, AZ) says these call centers provide pools of trained
and experienced agents and supervisors.
"Outsourcers are tied to
wages in their contract," he points out. "They can't raise
wages to compete with labor from in-house call centers."
Locations near large cities
(like Toronto and London) are viable for many types of call
centers. They include Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston,
Kitchener-Waterloo, Peterborough, St. Thomas, and Sarnia.
Among cities, you might also consider Edmonton, Alberta, and
In May 2002, RMH Teleservices
opened a multilingual 400-workstation center in the Vancouver
suburb of Surrey. Convergys is expected to open its second
Edmonton center in September 2002.
British Columbia, shunned for
years by companies that did not like the pro-union left-wing
NDP government that was thrown out in an election last year,
has the most potential for new call centers. Only 0.5% of the
province's workforce is employed in call centers according to
French. BC's unemployment rate, at 8.7% in June is higher than
the national average.
That number may grow
substantially as demand for BC lumber dries up with the high
tariffs the US placed on Canadian softwood. Spurred also by
steps to restrict unionization and to free up management by
the new center-right Liberal government (see box on page xx),
more site selectors are looking at the province.
"Many of those companies
would not have inquired two or three years ago," says NAI's
Ranking high on site
selectors' lists besides Vancouver (which has a large Asian
population), are Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George.
Victoria is especially
attractive to a broad range of inbound call centers because it
has a tourist economy catering to Americans and a workforce
with strong customer service skills. There are also no major
call centers in that region, which has over 300,000 residents
and a large university population.
also has a varied supply of suitable space. There is a vacant
but never opened call center in the busy downtown. The
Vancouver Island Technology Park (www.vitp.ca) located on a
suburban campus, has over 100,000 square feet available.
Cities in the province of
Saskatchewan are also re-emerging on site selectors' maps,
chiefly Saskatoon and Regina. Saskatoon has over 210,000
residents. Regina, the province's capital, has about 187,000.
"There are a lot of people,
neutral accents, plenty of real estate, but higher telecom
costs, and there's little competition in Saskatoon," reports
Opportunities also exist for
US- and English-speaking customers in Montreal; in nearby
southern suburbs, such as Chateauguay; and in the Eastern
Townships bordering on Vermont and New Hampshire.
Hull, across from Ottawa,
Ontario (the national capital), though more costly than
Montreal, accesses Ottawa's large pool of technically trained
Call centers are also going
to remote, small and rural locations. For them, the benefits
-- affordable, loyal and quality labor - outweigh the long
distances. (Many locations require two or three plane
transfers and/or rental cars.)
"Four to five years ago
companies wouldn't even consider Thunder Bay, for example"
says Brent Bayduss, a senior consultant at Trammell Crow. "Now
they're taking a hard look at [these communities]."
French recommends looking at
small cities in New Brunswick, west of Fredericton and near
the US border. These include Florenceville, McAdam and
Woodstock; plus Bridgewater, Digby, Kentville and Truro in
Site Selection Canada's
Demmings recommends looking at small Manitoba communities
include Dauphin, Lynn Lake, Pinawa, and Portage La Prairie.
Pinawa, the smallest of the four, has technically trained
workers through a nearby nuclear research facility.
Cranbrook, BC, which has
about 20,000 residents, could also support a call center.
CBRE's Trobaugh reports that a WalMart opened there. The
store's manager told him it had been flooded with applicants.
(Minneapolis, MN) found caches of English-speaking workers in
the rural high-unemployment Gaspe region in northeastern
Quebec. In June 2002, the company opened a 250-workstation
call center in Caplan. Other English speakers live in nearby
Bonaventure and New Carlisle.
"We liked going where no
other call center is," explains ACI Chief Operating Officer
Dana Olson. "The Quebec government has been very supportive.
For example, they arranged and subsidized air charter service;
air access was a major issue for us."
Call centers are also more
willing to tolerate and work around accents to obtain workers.
Newfoundland has long been known for a fast, singsong accent,
and for having Canada's highest unemployment rates.
ICT Group (Newtown, PA)
announced earlier this year it would open a third Newfoundland
center, in St, John's, the provincial capital and largest
city. Convergys also has a large call center there.
"The availability of
affordable workers [in Canada and the US outweighs] previous
location inhibitors, such as accent," explains NAI's French.
Call centers targeting
French-speaking customers should consider locating in Quebec
or in western New Brunswick cities, such as Edmundston, Grand
Falls and St.Leonard, recommends Boyd. They offer superior
French-speakers than eastern Ontario, central and eastern New
Brunswick and Manitoba.
"Our clients are becoming
more selective about where they locate in Canada," reports
Boyd. "They have an ear for regional accents. They do not want
Canadian Provinces More
With the dot-bomb and
high-tech busts, Canadian provinces have been stepping up
efforts to attract businesses, including call centers.
Quebec has designated a new
downtown Montreal E-Commerce Zone to draw
inbound, multimedia and tech support call centers. Eligible
centers that locate there may receive refundable tax credits
of 35% based on the increase in non-administrative payroll.
To help companies find the
right location in Nova Scotia, the government launched a Web
site, www.targetnovascotia.com. The site uses a searchable GIS
database to provide current information on communities and
regions in the province. The site includes labor force,
population, education and real estate information. The data
can be compared with that of any other North American
center-right Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell,
has eschewed incentives. Instead, its policy is to make the
province's climate hospitable to businesses. The government
cut taxes and plans to slice one-third of the civil service,
or approximately 11,000 jobs.
Last year, the province
eliminated automatic certification of a union if 55% of
non-management employees had signed union cards. Now, there
must be a vote if 45% or more employees sign a union card.
The government plans to
empower managers to help them cut costs. Legislation
introduced earlier this year will let employers assign work
for long hours in short weeks to avoid overtime. But employers
need to obtain employees' consent.
The government also plans to
reduce from four hours to two hours the minimum time to be
paid to workers if the employer requests they work during
scheduled days off.
The South American Option
When you look at the globe,
South America is no more 'near shore' to the US as Europe. But
some countries, such as Argentina and Chile, are options for
US and Latin American call centers.
Juan Carlos Lorca, vice
president of Entel Call Center (Santiago, Chile), the service
bureau arm of Chilean telco Entel S.A., says Chile has an
excellent labor-relations climate and high quality voice/data
connections from the rest of Latin America. Chile has 14
million residents and is one of that continent's most stable
and affluent markets.
Handling different Spanish
accents from customers' clients in other countries is not an
issue, Lorca says. His firm trains agents to be accent and
Chile's capital, Santiago,
with 5.2 million residents, has a large number of
Portuguese-speaking workers. That lets Entel's call center
serve all of South America, including Brazil. The former
Portuguese colony is the largest Latin American country, with
175 million residents.
Next-door neighbor Argentina
is larger, with 36 million residents, and has an excellent
education system but its economy is in well-publicized
trouble. But that has enabled call centers to cut costs.
According to Andres Vergara
president of outsourcer Publimail (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
www.publimail.com the decision by the government last year to
remove parity between the Argentinian peso to the US dollar
(it has been trading at $US = 3.5 pesos) allowed it to cut
customer acquisition costs to US clients by more than half.
Publimail started in Chile but expanded to Argentina in 1999.
adds that Argentina has a strong sales culture. Prior to the
devaluation Publimail had won all of Marriott Vacation Club's
Latin America Division business from competing outsourcers'
call centers in Mexico, Panama and Venezuela; Marriott had
parceled out the work between the four centers.
Vergara said Marriott
switched to outsourcing from in-house at its Orlando, FL
headquarters to cut costs and obtain better Spanish speakers.
But a pan or regional South
American call center strategy may not work. There are accent
and political differences between South American countries,
even those that speak the same language, according to SITEL
executive vice president Dale Saville.
"Chileans won't talk to
Argentinians and vice-versa, and the cross-border telco costs
are high," says Saville.
ICT's Multiple New
ICT Group (Newton, PA) is,
literally, seeking the best of all worlds.
The outsourcer opened its
first Caribbean call center in Bridgetown, Barbados, with 150
workstations in February 2002. It partnered with vCustomer, an
Indian outsourcer with a call center in New Delhi. And the
outfit is opening a Canadian call center in Peterborough,
Ontario, with 230 workstations this fall.
Tim Kowalski, senior vice
president of corporate planning and president of ICT Group CRM
technology, notes that the Barbados call center and the
vCustomer partnership is less costly than its Canadian call
center. But he sees the centers augmenting each other.
"We want to give our clients
flexibility," he says. "Some of them will want to have their
contacts handled in contact centers located close to their
offices - our centers in the U.S. and Canada provide that
proximity. Others do not care where the contacts are handled
as long as both the costs are low and the quality is there."
Option for European Call
Just as Caribbean countries
-- Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago -- are a
low-cost and a customer-friendlier alternative to India for
American call centers, so too are these nations’ viable
options to UK-serving call centers.
Many of these nations still
maintain ties to Britain, their former colonizer, through the
Commonwealth. The English spoken is British-based, as is their
educational systems. The principal telco, Cable and Wireless,
is based in London.
According to Philip Cohen, a
teleservices consultant based in Skelleftea, Sweden, the
Caribbean countries can serve British customers at up to 40%
less than call centers at home.
Similarly, the former Spanish
and Portuguese colonies (Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil)
are low-cost and better quality options to serving Spain and
Juan Carlos Lorca, vice
president of Entel Call Center, a Santiago, Chile-based
outsourcer, claims that his company can compete with Spanish
and Portuguese call centers. Agent costs are twice as much in
Spain than in Chile for inbound customer service.
"The labor regulations are
much more complex in Europe than in South America," he points
out. "That makes labor less flexible for call centers. Our
advantage is that we have lower costs and more flexible
King White, vice president of
Trammell Crow Call Center Services (Dallas, TX), says that
Mexico is emerging as an alternative to locating in Spain, and
is Brazil to locating in Portugal.
"Wage rates in major markets
like Madrid and Lisbon are $7 to $10 per hour," he explains.
"But wage rates in Mexico City and Sao Paulo will be around $3
to $4 per hour.
"The wages can go lower in
smaller city markets in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Brazil,"
he adds. However, there is typically not sufficient fiber
optic infrastructure or an educated workforce in those
Costa Rica is, too, an
alternative to Spain, adds Cohen, even though its costs can be
higher than European locations. Costa Rica has a small,
well-educated workforce with an excellent reputation.
"Costa Rica [can] serve
Spanish customers in the evenings, taking advantage of a
several hour time-zone difference," he points out. "That saves
money over having a call center open at night in Spain."