BPO’s chattering classes love to talk about the best ways to support the main demand market languages. There is little doubt that English, Spanish, French and German account for a great deal of global consumer activity. Still, the provision of customer service in Portuguese steadily has emerged as a growing necessity for enterprises eager to sell into this base of buyers. Fortunately, for outsourcers aiming to find more cost-efficient ways of servicing Portuguese speakers in key demand markets, there are some creative ways of addressing this language.
Before discussing the alternatives for Portuguese language delivery, it is worth examining the imperative of today’s consumer with that mother-tongue. The two main demand geographies where Portuguese is the language of choice are Brazil and Portugal. In the case of the former, there are ample reasons for outsourcers to seek contracts among enterprises servicing this market, not the least of which is population. Brazil is roughly equal in people to the UK, France and Germany combined. And it is rapidly growing in purchasing power. Meanwhile, the birthplace of the language in question, Portugal, is expected to have a better pace of economic growth for the coming two years than its larger European neighbors, according to the IMF. So, it just makes sense that servicing consumers in these countries should be a priority for outsourcers and their enterprise clients.
But, this does not necessarily mean an ‘onshore-or bust’ strategy when delivering Portuguese customer care. Both Brazil and Portugal tend to be cost-heavy for contact centers when it comes to wages and statutory social obligations. This is where providers can afford to get creative in delivery models.
One that should be an immediate possibility is looking to lower-cost locations for Portuguese customer experience skills. This is becoming a more realistic scenario, with Angola and Mozambique being the most obvious candidates. Each country has a population of nearly 30 million, making scalable labor opportunistic. And, despite the obvious challenges of moving to transparent market economies, there have been local start ups in both Angola and Mozambique that are aiming to win offshore Portuguese support contracts. The key for BPO stakeholders in both countries will be to change perceptions of investors looking for Portuguese delivery alternatives (a challenge that is also being felt in other prospective African BPO delivery locations).
There are other alternatives for Portuguese support, including the use of work-at-home agents in order to access more front-line talent. And while a laudable long-term objective, outsourcers need to be aware that this business model for contact center delivery is nascent in both Brazil and Portugal. This will mean a potentially protracted amount of time needed to develop interest among potential recruits. This is notwithstanding the required due diligence in assessing the local internet quality within the regions of both locations, in order to ensure seamless service delivery.
The bottom line is that Portuguese consumers are an important and growing part of the global demand market for contact center services. Servicing this group efficiently and to a high standard is crucial in developing loyalty among end-users. Being creative in doing so can ensure providers with strong quality at a price point attractive to their enterprise clients. Forward-looking outsourcers will realize that the time to start such investigations is agora.