Richard Blank, C.E.O. of Cost Rica's Call Center, sees an opportunity for growth in the Business Process Outsourcing sector in Costa Rica for 2017. Political change and near-shoring are just a few of his reasons as he explains throughout his interview with ContactCenterWorld.com
ContactCenterWorld: In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months?
Richard Blank: An adapting business climate that relies on non-voice technology. For example, clients that prefer to communicate via email or text could lose an old school type of relationship building experience. Most importantly, a faster resolution for anyone that is slow to respond to their overflowing inbox or uncharged phone.
ContactCenterWorld: Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
Richard Blank: Clients and customer service agents are looking for a short cut. I agree that there are some common sense applications towards a call center experience. Yet, nothing beats an educated and well trained live agent that can walk you through a call than an IVR that will kill your time and patience.
ContactCenterWorld: In 2017, what do you think will be the top priorities in the contact center industry for each of the following: a) Contact Center Directors b) Company Executives c) IT Directors d) Human Resources Directors
Richard Blank: a) Retention. If you do not have a nice environment, top pay, honest work and bottom line gratitude, then nobody will show up at your call center party to answer a single call.
ContactCenterWorld: What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months?
Richard Blank: Cell phones.
ContactCenterWorld: What impact have "external events" even had on your company, and how have you adapted your business?
Richard Blank: The rising cost of living in Costa Rica. CCC made strategic financial moves in the past few years to ensure that we can continue to offer top pay and benefits to our bilingual telemarketers. In addition, building our own 14,400SF call center location to eliminate all rent, mortgage or cash draining commitments. Thus, keeping our hourly rate low to our clients.
ContactCenterWorld: Do you feel the service you personally get as a customer is better or worse than it was a year ago?
Richard Blank: I have stated this in the past. I believe that it has gotten worse. The age of cell phones, texting and increased non-voice contact will only diminish vital social skills needed for FCR and other important KPI metrics. People are losing the ability to speak well.
ContactCenterWorld: How do you intend to improve your contact center in 2017?
Richard Blank: Dedicated practice in phonetics. Naturally, every mistake made is an opportunity to correct your actions with humility. Most importantly, knowing why you hit a home run on a call and focusing on doing it until the end of every shift. Day after day you focus on each call. Every week you analyze the past run and by the end of the year, your large Christmas bonus will more than speak for itself for your 12 months of dedicated practice.
ContactCenterWorld: What contact center technology or other innovation excites you the most right now?
Richard Blank: Better noise cancelling headsets.
ContactCenterWorld: What has been the most important contact center related conversation topic in 2016 and what are your views on this?
Richard Blank: Call center attrition and telemarketing burn out. This industry is not for the thin skinned or weekend warrior. You need a presence of mind, good humor, fast wit and the ability to really focus on the art of speaking. Anyone that can make a great call will always have my attention and admiration for a lost art.
ContactCenterWorld: Can you share a great story of service you received when contacting a contact center in the past year?
Richard Blank: The moment I mention that I am in Costa Rica, the agent will break from character and ask me a few questions or make an excited comment. Sometimes, they will share a quick story or happy moment while vacationing in Central America. I can truly say that it did increase the customer and client satisfaction level ten-fold.
ContactCenterWorld: What do you think will be the buzz word / focus for the contact center industry this year?
Richard Blank: Call Center App.
ContactCenterWorld: Regarding the change in governments in places like the US and the Philippines - do you see this is good or bad for the contact center industry in those countries and why?
Richard Blank: The call center industry is virtual. The main focus on outsourcing in the U.S.A. concerns factories, manufacturing and other physical labor ventures. As long as a call center agent can do their job well, be reliable and honest, someone will hire and retain their services somewhere in the world. Not just the U.S.A. or the Philippines. My call center competes with all talented telemarketers in the world and we respect the growing BPO labor pool and reputation. As long as we can fulfill the needs, CCC will have a project to call and still be a division 1 call center.
ContactCenterWorld: Lastly, what do you think 2017 holds for the industry? (Good or bad and where/how etc.)
Richard Blank: As long as the IVR systems drive people crazy, our live phones will continue to ring.
COSTA RICA'S CALL CENTER FREE PLAY EMPLOYEE GAME ROOM
COSTA RICA'S CALL CENTER FAN PAGE:
BARRIO ARANJUEZ, 23RD STEET AND 11TH AVENUE. San Jose, Costa Rica
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