How to run a contact centre in North America

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A quick trip down memory lane reminds us that the 1990s saw a massive rise in the practice of offshoring call centres. With the convergence of economic factors and technological advancement, it was seen as the cheap alternative for companies who required basic customer support solutions.

But times change – and so do customers. Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences – especially in complex care scenarios that transcend basic, transactional interactions. And that can only really happen with close cultural alignment as well as an environment that empowers agents to make better decisions.

Simply put, offshore doesn’t cut it. You know it – and your customers know it too.

More and more companies are choosing contact centre locations closer to home with rich talent pools where agents are not only fluent in their customers’ language but can also pick up on cultural nuances that are difficult to teach non-native speakers. Business leaders are realizing that linguistic and cultural barriers are detrimental to complex support scenarios.

That said, keeping your contact centre onshore is, well, costly – mostly thanks to stronger economies and higher costs of living. Of course, if a differentiated customer experience and brand is important, it’s worth it.

Still, North American contact centres vary wildly in their costs and in their quality – how do you find what works best for you?

Look North of the Border

We believe we have the answer to keeping your contact centre in North America without breaking the bank – and without sacrificing quality: Look North of the border.

Most people think onshore means their search for an outsourcer is confined to the 50 US states (or even just 48 continental states). But despite being separated by politics, economies, and lines on a map, Canada – particularly metropolitan Canada – is an excellent alternative.

We explore a number of reasons for this below, but the short version is that Canada offers competitive cost factors, close cultural alignment, readily-available top talent, and attractive proximity. Read on!

Stretching Your Dollar in Canada

The US Dollar is strong right now, giving American businesses a lot of buying power outside their borders (one US Dollar currently equates to 1.33 Canadian Dollars). That’s not to mention the fact that the US and Canadian economies are closely linked, and the exchange rate hasn’t varied much for most of the last couple of decades. Economic outlooks project that this will be sustained for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, you’re getting more bang for your buck by outsourcing to a Canadian contact centre partner. Although your decision is more complex than price alone, there’s no denying that it is an important component. When all other factors are comparable, the projected ROI is what may ultimately lead you to choose one outsourcer over another. In Canada, that ROI may look significantly more attractive.

Of course, we know you’re not just looking for a “cheaper” way to outsource your contact centre. You want a more affordable option that doesn’t come at the sacrifice of amazing quality. Let’s explore some other ways Canada may be the answer for you.

Tapping into a Deeper Talent Pool

The US unemployment rate is at a record low, generally touted as a good thing. That said, it does make hiring significantly more difficult. With fewer people actively looking for jobs, companies are forced to get more creative in their recruitment strategies, poaching talent from competitors and overhauling their benefits programs to attract more people.

Though Canada’s unemployment rate is at near-historic lows also, it’s about two percent higher than the US – a difference that’s just significant enough to create a deeper talent pool. And those people are well-educated – more than 70% of adults in Halifax have completed a post-secondary program. That means we have extensive access to people who have the skills and competence to handle complex service scenarios in support of our clients and their customers.

Cultural Alignment Between the US and Canada

Canadians can chit-chat about the latest Superbowl/World Series/Stanley Cup playoffs just as easily as Americans – and you may be surprised by how often that conversation comes up on a customer call. Your friendly neighbors to the North are also equally adept at interpreting passing comments, slang, or tone of voice that indicate a customer’s attitude – information that can help these agents deliver a better customer experience.

Ensuring cultural alignment in your contact centre program is likely why you’re choosing to onshore in the first place. These types of interactions are hard to measure and may seem inconsequential, but they are at the heart of next-level customer service. Being able to pick up on tiny details or chat about everyday topics are what makes a customer feel heard and valued. Those are the customers who stay loyal to your brand and often end up evangelizing their family, friends, and networks. 

Canada: Closer to Home Than You Think

Before you worry that the money you save in heading North will be eaten up by hours spent flying and driving to some remote Canadian town, bear in mind that provinces like Nova Scotia – home to our very own Blue Ocean offices – are a stone’s throw from New York. Not so remote after all.

Proximity matters because we do recommend that you get face-to-face with your outsourced contact centre on a regular basis – and even before you make a decision to partner up (read why here). Most metropolitan Canadian cities, including our very own Halifax, offer nonstop flights to most major US cities. That’s a big deal.

Keeping Your Contact Centre in North America Without Breaking the Bank

Choosing to keep your contact centre onshore doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying through the nose. If you want a more affordable option while maintaining high quality “wow” customer experiences, consider looking North of the border to Canada (we love it here!).

 

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27th Jun 2019 15:24

Nice article I have had call centers for a payday loan company offshore and onshore, safe to say the consumer wants call centers onshore, however, this is a good compromise.

To cut costs and for colleague happiness, we have started people working from home taking calls, (surprisingly cheap to set up too) it has had some great results around cost and productivity so has been a win for everyone

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