Thoughts from the 1St Global Contact Forum

Last week, I attended, and was fortunate to speak at, the 1st Global Contact Forum, hosted by Instituto Mexicano de Teleservicos.  The event drew a broad collection of contact center folks primarily from Mexico and Latin America.   However, twenty one countries across 5 continents were officially represented among the participants. 

So, after Delta Airlines lost my luggage on the leg from Atlanta to Philadelphia and left it out in the monsoon on Friday, I was able to salvage a few notes and scraps of paper from my bag.  From that, along with my cloudy memory, here’s what I think were my key (albeit, random) observations and takeaways (disclaimer: reading runny, smudged ink is not my core competency)

  • In talking with Rodolfo Salazar he confirmed my opinion that Mexican and Latin American contact center industry is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-1.5 years behind the US market in developing social CRM strategies and tactics for leveraging social media as an effective service and support channel. 
  • In my talk on social CRM, I asked a question: “how many people have engaged a company for service via a social channel?”  About 20% of the audience had.  In response to the question ” how many of your contact centers provide service and support through social channels?”.  To that, about 5% raised their hands. 
  • In contrast, in a study that just came across my email this morning that surveyed US contact centers, 35% indicated they provide support via social channels.  Does that seem high to you?
  • Interestingly, the focus of discussions, presentations and hallway chatter was on providing near-shore contact center alternatives for US-based companies.  It got me wondering, if all these contact center BPOs are chasing the US market, who’s providing in-country service to their local customers?
  • Speaking of near shore opportunities for US-based companies, every Spanish/English bi-lingual contact center ought to be developing a strategy for taking advantage of the labor arbitrage opportunities available through the Latin American market.  Culture, language and proximity all make me wonder why more aren’t jumping across the Rio Grande
  • Tod Famous from Cisco gave a thought-provoking presentation and demo on their social CRM platform.  Many of the large enterprise vendors are developing and planning some initial release of such platforms this year, addressing challenges of workflow, multi-channel integration and unified communications.  I’m wondering what the response will be from vendors such as Radian6, Visible Technologies and the other “pure play” monitoring platforms  
  • IMT put up a bunch of video interviews on YouTube with conference speakers, including this one with yours truly This should give you a good overview of the conference topics and landscape of this exciting market. The full list is in the “related videos’ list on this link.

As my preparation for this conference was the driver for me to start seriously researching the Latin American contact center market, I’d be interested to hear your perspective on the future.

Comments

  1. Barry, thanks for the update about the IMT conference. Sorry , we could not met in Mexico last week. I will follow up with you soon. One f the things that I see as a trend is that Agencies are now L1 of support when they engage customers on behalf of the brand. I am also seeing some companies with a great interest on SMM tools like Radian6 to manage customer service issues and then passing the issue to call centers. I am also in conversations with call centers that are looking to do something with Social Media. Plus, in the SMC Mexico we are seeing some industries that are already using Social Media for not just marketing but for customer service. The trend is here to stay specially in Mexico and Colombia. We need to chat soon… Glad you met Valentin…

  2. Jesus, thank you for the comments. I do look forward to chatting. Very interesting to hear about agencies handling L1 support. While I've never met agency folks that would want to sit in a cubical with a headset on and take calls, perhaps support engagement via social channels is viewed as a completely different beast. I don't see a lot of customer service functions taking the lead here either, rather supporting the brand and PR functions. Although I don't have specific data as to the types of support engagement, I'm wondering if the same trend is emerging here. This would be a critical data point for customer service in identifying its fit in the ecosystem.

    I think we are fully connected now. Please reach out when you have a moment. Agree, we should chat voice to voice.

    Thanks much for that insight.

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