PERSONALIZED SERVICES

Costa Rica 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Johanna Escobar Guerra, Country Manager of Telefonica, on its rapid success, its upcoming launches, and the challenges of the market.

 Johanna Escobar Guerra
BIOGRAPHY
Johanna Escobar Guerra has developed a successful career within Grupo Telefónica for almost 20 years, during which she assumed different positions related to client management. Originally from Guatemala, Escobar took over the Customer Subdirectorate in 2011 at the startup in Costa Rica. She has a master’s degree in business administration and human resources.

Movistar has already reached 2 million users in Costa Rica and has 25% of the market. What strategy did the company implement to achieve this?

Telefonica Costa Rica started operations in 2011 and has created a robust company in only five years that has enabled us to reach 2 million users. New technologies and innovation have been the main drivers of our development in the country. In this context, we have based our operations on three pillars: customer service and the digitalization and simplification of their experience; 3G coverage for 95% of the population and 4G coverage for 70% of the population; and innovation—our Movistar company is focused on developing the most innovative products and services. In addition, our company has taken an active role when it comes to sponsoring sports events and two key players for the national team. This sponsorship has helped us gain proximity to our users.

What is the importance of Costa Rica for the company's global and regional operations?

We are the youngest company in the group and Costa Rica is a young and burgeoning market. We have invested more than USD500 million in infrastructure and platforms. Penetration levels of technology products are dynamic and offer great potential, making this market an attractive one for a company such as ours. Costa Rica represents a long-term investment for the company.

What characterizes the products set to be launched in 2017?

We have a strong focus on data, and since we have been innovating since day one, we continuously launch new products and services into the Costa Rican market. In the future, we will be moving into financial services. However, in Costa Rica we see great potential in SMEs, which is why we launched SME in a Box and Negocio Smart. For example, according to the Ministry of Economy, 93.4% of the economic contribution of industries comes from SMEs. In our B2B business line, we develop personalized services and products for these companies—micro, small, and medium-enterprises. We try to adapt our services to their budgets and enable them to grow from a technological point of view. We also think this is an interesting sector in which to grow our data center's activity. Around 93% of our customers are private users and the remaining 7% are companies, including B2B.

What are the main challenges of operating in Costa Rica for a company like Telefonica?

This is an interesting market that can serve as testing arena for many multinationals. However, one of the main challenges are the current regulations. Telefonica has contributed in an important way to the development of the mobile and technological market here in Costa Rica, and this has made us the industry leader. We are a reference in the sector, and innovation has enabled us to become pioneers in many areas. For example, we were the first company to invest in an enterprise incubator in Costa Rica and the region. This project is called Open Future, and we will soon complete the third call for start-up projects. We have also signed an agreement with a few municipalities like Heredia and Cartago to transform them into smart cities. These kinds of projects are important in setting us apart from the competition. In this context, innovation also sets us apart, and our leading role in Central America is a major point of attraction for corporate customers.

What are your main goals and objectives for 2017?

Our main objective is to continue serving our 2 million users. We actually have loyalty user plans, where we know the user's entire journey. We want to continue innovating our services and products for the public and private sector, the former having great potential. We plan to continue expanding our data centers and the data sector.