Webinar: Exporting to the Caribbean

newcommercail99999999999999991For U.S. companies hoping to learn more about the Caribbean marketplace, you won’t want to miss this web seminar sponsored by the U.S. Commercial Services office. The online event,  scheduled for 3 p.m. EST on April 29, will focus specifically on Bermuda and Barbados.

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Call Center Agents Not Getting Adequate Tools, Says Gartner CRM Study

Gartner has just released results of a call center modernization survey of worldwide CIOs. The findings show a surprising lack of awareness of the value of the contact center in strengthening customer relationships. Companies are just not making enough of a commitment to customer service representatives through better tools, gartner2222222222222222training and compensation, the report finds.

The survey, conducted at the end of last year,  showed that in the category of  business priorities, attracting and retaining customers dropped from second to fifth place. I am confident if the same survey were conducted today you would find that retaining customers would rise back up to second place. The CIOs I talk to are under a great deal of pressure to directly help business leaders find new customers and keep a lid on churn.

Digicel’s Rise Dominates the Caribbean Mobile Outlook in 2009

crb_logo_new22222222222222222222222222Digicel, the Jamaica-based mobile operator which has quickly become the kingpin of mobile providers in the region, is set to claim more subscribers this year, according to a recently released report by Paul Budde, who runs a respected research house in Australia called BuddeComm.

Key highlights and predictions in the report include:

· The acrimonious relationship between Digicel and C&W in the Caribbean region looks to set to continue with Digicel announcing in January its intention to sue C&W for defamation. Meanwhile its most significant claim against C&W, filed back in mid-2007, is yet to come before the British High Court.

· C&W has attempted to shrug off its negative image by rebranding its Caribbean unit in late 2008 as LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment). C&W’s rebranding strategy forms part of an overall regional transformation plan valued at $300 million.

· Digicel continued to be the fastest growing mobile company in the region, recording subscriber growth rates in the order of 40% during its 2008 financial year. Digicel also continued to expand into new markets with its launch in the British Virgin Islands in December 2008.

· In 2008 the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations (CANTO) launched the Connect the Caribbean (CTC) initiative, aimed at mobilising resources towards the common goal of closing the digital divide in the region.

· GSM continues to be the mobile technology of choice in the Caribbean, with over 85% of mobile customers in Latin America and the Caribbean employing GSM mobile technology.

· Growth during 2009 will continue to be fueled by declining tariffs in the mobile and long-distance sector, and by increased deployment of broadband networks.

· As mobile penetration rates are still relatively low, it is predicted that the mobile market will continue to enjoy solid subscriber and revenue growth rates during 2009. However, the world economic downturn is expected to constrain major investments during 2009 and 2010.

Client-Service Focus of ACS Won Over Casserly

Call center agents and managers at e-Services sites in Jamaica and St. Lucia can rest easy during the ACS ownership transition, says Patrick Casserly, the Jamaica entrepreneur credited for putting Jamaica’s customer service industry on the map. Casserly explains in a story in the Jamaican Observer that ACS’s commitment to client service contributed to his decision to sell the company – announced this week . No staff cuts are expected and, in fact,

Casserly (second from left) will become part of the new ACS management team

Casserly (second from left) will become part of the new ACS management team

there is growing expectation that ACS will continue to expand its presence in the Caribbean based on factors which include close proximity to the United States, an increasing population of skilled workers, government incentives and a thriving interest among its client-base for offshore CRM options.

Outsourcing Will Thrive During Recession, Analyst says

datamonitor22222222221Datamonitor analyst Peter Ryan, who by the way is one of the better CRM/BPO analysts on the planet, makes a convincing argument here that outsourcing is likely to thrive during the global recession, especially among technology firms whose margins are typically constrained.

The Emotional, Reactive Underside of the Outsourcing Debate

When I landed in Barbados to take a look at hiring a local call center, the last thing on my mind was whether I would be displacing American workers in favor of Caribbean workers. My job at the time required me to find the best contact center provider at the best price. Period. Like so many before me and after me, I was on a mission to provide better value for my company and I would go just about anywhere to deliver on that objective.(More on “my story” in future posts.)

globalization2222222222That’s the part that I find missing in the great, renewed debate about “offshoring US jobs.” There is understandable angst about US jobs going overseas, but when we look at the functions of a contact center we’re ultimately talking about how to make the sponsoring client stronger. Whether Verizon, Delta Airlines or multiple other Fortune 2000 firms, these organizations are in business to service shareholders with an overriding goal of producing profits and creating products that engender long-term value. Yes they are American companies, but each operates in intensely competitive industries that require creative approaches to meet customer requirements, grow market share and craft and roll-out innovative services.

When customer service executives representing US companies show up in MoBay’s tax-free zone, in the streets of San Juan, or down in Bridgetown, their focus is on extending and reinforcing the relationship customers have with their brand. It’s not a question of jobs, it’s a question of providing globalized tools to meet the global market conditions of the 21st century.

There are obviously undercurrents of prejudice and protectionist hostilities running through this debate. Bob Evans, senior VP and Global CIO at US-based TechWeb shares some candid remarks on the incredibly important role global partnerships and collaborations deliver back to US firms in a post sent out today.

In the reactionary tones of the outsourcing hysteria, it will be interesting to see if there are new classifications in the  works to portray friendly neighbors like Puerto Rico as more pleasing to do outsouring business with rather than a Jamaica or Dominican Republic? Our suggestion is to stick to rational facts – examine hard data and hard dollars in your evaluation of potential partners. The emotion of the day will eventually subside, but will business leaders see through the current discord with enough dispassionate clarity to make sound judgements?

Pan Am Cable Gets Capacity Injection

bbbbbbbbbbb2The ten-year-old Pan American Cable System, an undersea telecom pipe covering over 2,000 miles stretching from the Pacific coast of South America across into the southern region of the Caribbean, will undergo a significant upgrade before the end of the year.

Eleven telecom providers and sponsors, led by Japan’s NEC, are funding the venture which will boost capacity to multiple 10 Gbps wavelengths, meeting the same level of capacity provided in other parts of the world.  Current landings are in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Aruba and the US Virgin Islands. Growing demand in the Caribbean and Central and South America are contributing to the decision to boost the bandwidth on the pipes.