Is Panama the Next Big Nearshore CX Outsourcing Opportunity?
Originally published on Customer Magazine
To the uninitiated, Panama is not well-known for its customer service, contact center and CX outsourcing industry.
In fact, Panama has been serving organizations for over two decades, and is one of fastest growing nearshore countries for U.S. based companies.
One of the greatest advantages of working with BPOs in Panama, besides the strong fundamental relationships between the U.S. and Panama, including trade agreements and other business collaborations, is the time zone differential. Compared to contact centers on the “other wide of the world,” Panama is GMT-5, or Eastern Standard Time, so when volume surges in the U.S., coordination becomes easier than having to connect in the middle of the night.
Another advantage is the availability of educated agents who speak multiple languages, including fluent English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The economics in Panama make it easy for BPOs there to attract and train top agents, at substantially lower salaries than are paid in the U.S., which leads to better pricing for BPO clients who are looking to conserve resources and reinvest in the latest CX technologies – which are also available from the most innovative and creative BPOs in the country.
The Panamanian CX BPOs we partner with provide a full range of services, from traditional inbound voice for general customer service applications, to highly technical help desk, technical support and specialties across verticals including healthcare telemedicine solutions.
“We identified some of the most creative and bold BPOs in the world in Panama,” said Tom Silzell, founder of CX Partner Source, a company that matches small to medium size BPOs with small to medium size companies. “The innovation happening in the region is inspiring and is part of an overall progressive culture which supports a healthy, happy workforce. They are bringing the latest live chat, screen sharing, social, video and outbound marketing solutions to their clients, and have outstanding capabilities in reporting on results and trends, which is increasingly important to successful, long-term programs.”
Silzell also said travel to Panama is much easier than having to fly across the Atlantic or Pacific on 12 plus hour flights. “Despite the pandemic and travel restrictions, business travel is still important and will be opening up again in 2021. A flight from Denver to Panama City is under 6 hours, and currently costs under $500 for coach. Compare this to a flight to an Asian country – from Denver to Mumbai, for example, takes anywhere from 1-2 days, causes tremendous jet lag, and costs thousands of dollars.”
Miro Batista Pousa, CEO of Iterum BPO Services, based in Panama City noted that Panama is a country that has averted natural disasters, given its geographic position. “While every country has its share of earthquakes, floods, fires and more, Panama has suffered many fewer large-scale interruptions than other countries. The country is governed in a quality way, with continual investments in education, networks including increasingly fast 5G which brings better quality broadband to BPOs, and a longstanding track record of building modern infrastructure. Even the COVID-19 pandemic has been managed better than in most countries, though of course everybody everywhere must remain vigilant.”
Silzell says finding the right BPO partner takes into account many factors, including the health and well being of the population, and the availability of smart and friendly people who represent brands in professional and upbeat ways. “Panama has long been known for its diverse and vibrant culture,” Silzell explained. “Panamanians within minutes of meeting you will tell you what they love about their country. Whether they brag about the climate, the culture, the landscapes, the music and the food, national pride runs deep in Panama. Panamanian pride may best summed up in the popular Panamanian phrase, puente del mundo, corazón del universo, which means ‘bridge of the world, heart of the universe.’”
Panama is booming, especially within urban areas, where nearly two-thirds of the people live. Many of these urbanites live in Panama City and the surrounding areas, especially within the Canal Zone, which stretches from the capital city to Colón. The other most densely inhabited parts of the country are the central provinces of Herrera, Los Santos, Coclé, and Veraguas. These include the Pacific hills, lowlands, and the Azuero Peninsula, a place considered by many to be the “heart” of Panama.
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