Caribbean Offshoring 101 – Why Trinidad Stands Out From the Crowd

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William Carson of Ascensos explains why the Caribbean is an is an ideal location to operate consumer care for the US East and West coast – and what’s making Trinidad stand out from the crowd right now.

The Cultural Alignment with North America is Strong

The islands of the Caribbean stretch from the Bahamas, a mere fifty-three miles off the coast of the USA, to Trinidad, just seven miles off the coast of Venezuela.

This proximity to US and Canadian capitals, and their corporate HQs, means interest in the customer contact and management opportunities to support consumer care in North America from the Caribbean is nothing new.

Alongside the easy travelling distance to the islands across the Caribbean Sea (New York is less than 4 hours flight time from Jamaica), another key attraction is the time zone.

With no more than a 3-hour difference between the US East and West coast, the Caribbean is an ideal location to operate consumer care and contact from within normal or extended working hours.

The cultural alignment with North America is of course strong, familiarity with North American brands and even nomenclature, all benefit from tourism and travel activity, and 21st Century interconnectedness via social media apps, online entertainment, and gaming.

Zoom and MS Teams has Further Removed Barriers

Our post-pandemic world of Zoom and MS Teams has further removed barriers to the consideration of near shore locations like the Caribbean as it is as normal today to be speaking over one video call with a colleague within the UK to engaging with a client in North America or South Africa on the next.

The Ascensos adventure in the Caribbean more specifically is an example of another factor in choosing the region as a location – client requirement.

We began looking at the North American market as we partner with several US headquartered clients, for whom we only previously supported their UK and EU operations, and we wanted to expand our proposition to look after their customers in North American markets too.

Other contact centre providers have had a similar journey – SITEL had an operation based out of Jamaica more than 20 years ago.

English is the First Language for Many Caribbean Countries

Language is another key component to supporting North America effectively from the Caribbean.

English is the first language for many Caribbean countries while Spanish is spoken by almost everyone throughout the region, both ideal for supporting consumers in North American markets.

Technically, support for European clients, and even UK customers, is also viable from a language and capability angle but from a time zone perspective, it is probably not best placed.

There is no question, it’s a better location for the US and Canada and generally more accessible, with many more routes down into Trinidad from the US than from the UK and Europe.

Traditionally, nearshore America consumer care from the Caribbean countries has been dominated by the global BPOs, either from LATAM or specific locations in the Caribbean.

However, as the adoption of intelligent automation solutions and sophisticated AI platforms begin to handle more of the transactional, low value customer contact across a broad spectrum of industry sectors, the opportunity for smaller operations to be cost-effective in support of higher value customer interactions begins to present a more appropriate, future-first solution for evolving operational models.

Once the decision has been taken to commit to a Caribbean location, whether as an inhouse or partner operation, the due diligence stage can begin in earnest – identifying which country in the region will serve the needs of the enterprise best.

Trinidad has an Extraordinarily Strong Commercial Focus and Work Ethic

At Ascensos, we carried out research into potential Caribbean and LATAM locations, and we narrowed the country selection down to a handful of places, some obvious and some less obvious, some that we felt were (and still are) overheated in terms of BPO presence and some that were emerging as BPO centres of excellence – and that’s what drew us to Trinidad.

Once we actually went to Trinidad, that’s when we could immediately get to see the benefits – strong English language capabilities, an excellent education system, and a growing capability in Spanish, with Venezuelans moving to Trinidad, its coastline being less than ten miles away.

The modern Trinidadian economy has been established primarily on oil and gas, and the Port of Spain is the business capital, so there’s an extraordinarily strong commercial focus and work ethic there too, as primarily, it’s an industrial island.

We also felt that the island’s location which is far south in the Caribbean takes it below the hurricane belt which means Trinidad is rarely affected by the hurricane season, with the resilience that that implies for our operations.

For other businesses and specific verticals, there will be other Caribbean countries that are more suitable to their needs, and the scale and scope of their requirements.

Real ROI on Investments to Meet Long Term Business Goals

Overall, there has been an established perception that the Central American countries were the more mature of the nearshore America region to serve and support customers in the US and Canada, and that the Caribbean countries were less mature.

From our own experience, as the Ascensos business, that perception has changed entirely, and in Trinidad certainly it is just as driven and commercially focused as anywhere else in Western Europe, and that will be true across other Caribbean countries too.

It’s worth reflecting that in the four years since the global Pandemic, the convergence of innovations in cloud platforms, AI, alongside changing customer behaviours and the real-time opportunities presented by data insight and analytics, means our industry is probably better placed than ever to understand the advantages of one global location over another.

William Carson of Ascensos
William
Carson

This is to genuinely serve customers cost-effectively, wherever they are in the world, through voice and non-voice channels, creating real ROI on investments to meet long term business goals and objectives.

Undoubtedly, the Caribbean countries and region are going to be part of that evolution for a very long time to come in support of customers in one of the largest markets in the world.

Written by: William Carson of Ascensos

Author: William Carson
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 1st May 2024 - Last modified: 17th Jul 2024
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