Belltech sees contact center split emerging in Chile

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chile's local costs and strengthening currency are encouraging nearshore contact service providers to leave in droves, though locally focused centers are largely staying put, according to top brass from local technology provider Belltech.

Although naysayers claim Chile's relatively high costs are hastening the downfall of the local contact center industry, the situation is not that cut-and-dry, Belltech's executive VP, Rodney Everard, told BNamericas.

"The contact centers that have moved are those that provide offshore services to countries like the US and Spain," he said. "The majority of the contact centers that serve Chilean clients are still in the country."

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The Chilean peso's recent gains against the greenback are seen as a driving force behind this trend, as a strong local currency makes offshore operations less competitive.

Still, Chile is not the only Latin American country scaring away offshore contact center providers, the executive added.

"The Brazilian market is huge, but it is entirely driven by internal demand. They are even more expensive than us [in Chile]," Everard said.

"In Argentina, the climate used to be very business friendly, and the country had 70,000-80,000 offshore positions. But that has ended. Inflation keeps rising there, and with an even dollar, the cost of labor in dollars went up."


Belltech expects overall revenues to surpass US$60mn this year, after seeing sales reach US$42mn in 2010.

"The earthquake in Chile delayed decision making," Everard said. "I think that we could have easily grown five more percentage points if Chile had been where we expected it to be."

New clients signed up in 2010 include Peru's largest bank BCP, the Peruvian contact center operations of Scotiabank (NYSE: BNS) and Chile's state bank, BancoEstado.

Top growth drivers this year will include operations in Brazil and Colombia, where Belltech entered via new offices and a local acquisition, respectively, last year.

On the solution side, Belltech is eyeing business opportunities with workforce optimization solutions, as well as its hosted contact center offering, the latter of which will account for 10-12% of total sales in the short term, according to the executive. The firm will look to move new networking solutions from US telecoms applications, software and services supplier Avaya.

Belltech will also keep an eye on its main competitors in the region, which include Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), US call center software provider Genesys and French network infrastructure provider Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU).

Belltech has presence in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil and more than 700 employees across the region. The company provides solutions from manufacturers such as Avaya, US contact center platform provider Aspect Software and Israeli contact center solutions company NICE Systems (Nasdaq: NICE).