COLOMBIA CALLING

Colombia 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING (BPO)

Contact centers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies are an important part of Colombia's service sector and link the country with international markets and investment in a unique way.

Contact centers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies are useful tools for national and international firms that want to enhance their customer service provision. Colombia's perfect location and skilled workforce result in a strategic source of these services at a high level of quality and, hence, this sector has grown significantly in recent years

This industry saw a leap in sales from COP104.566 million to COP2.9 billion between 2001 and 2014, according to the Colombian Contact Centers and BPO Association (ACDECC). The industry experiences and excellent average YoY growth (27 %) is resulting in international companies investing heavily in Colombia.
Spanish firm Atento, one of the global leaders, made a COP30 billion investment in 2016 to open new contact centers in the country, which will contribute approximately 1,500 new jobs to a sector that already generates over 200,000. The Colombian government sees the industry as a strong employment generator and wants to stimulate investment. The Santos administration estimates that by 2019, contact centers and BPOs will employ over 500,000 Colombians.

The expansion of contact centers and BPO services in Colombia can be explained by three factors. Firstly, consultancy firms estimate that to establish one of these companies in Colombia is about 30-40% cheaper than in Europe or the US. Secondly, Latin American countries, and Colombia in particular, have a skilled labor force in this sector, and it is common for people to speak more than one language. And third, more businesses worldwide look to reduce costs by outsourcing.

Outsourcing services are being requested by a plethora of sectors. Although telecommunications, banking, and financial are the main ones, there are another areas that are experiencing growth, such as telemarketing. The General Manager of Unisono Colombia, Fernando Rodriguez, assured TBY that English services are developing quickly in the nation and that one trend that Unisono and its competitors see is offering call services from Colombia to the US.

Demand for contact centers and BPO services is on the rise. Frost and Sullivan analyzed the revenue for outsourcing in an annual inquiry with ACDEEC's data and pointed out that 62.41% of revenue comes from customer services provided in Spanish and another 4.41% from English language services.

An interesting development that is having big impact on the market is robot assistance. The aim is to offer a better customer service by filtering incoming calls and redirecting the customer to the right telemarketer. Moreover, robot assistance can execute simple tasks such as changing a bank address or answering an inquiry. “We do not want to automate the whole process; we only want to robotize the easiest part," Rodriguez said.
Robotizing contact centers might be able to structure the number of incoming calls and facilitate more qualified assistance over the phone. Additionally, it could be way to make the sector more efficient without losing any important added value to the call.

In terms of national distribution, Bogotá city hosts the largest number of call centers (49.3%), with the rest spread out among mid-size cities such as Medellín, Cali, Manizales, or Barranquilla.
The Colombian contact center and BPO sector expect good results from 2016. The country's labor-friendly legislation for international companies and the high number of skilled workers in this segment looks to attract new investment in the coming years.