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Ask the Experts – September 05

The following are actual questions posed to the TRG experts. You can pose your questions on our website.

Question:

What due Diligence should be done when doing site visits to off shore candidate locations?
Jim F.

Expert Response:

This question addresses likely the most activities that you must address not when you are looking to move your call center offshore, but also when looking at local and nearshore locations as well. The fact that you are looking at completing site visits suggests that you have already completed a detailed process of assessing the risks/benefits of numerous locations. You have likely examined;

• Infrastructure in the location; electricity, telephony network design, reliability, uptime, survivability and susceptibility to disasters, weather etc.,
• Availability of a suitable workforce; language skills, educational skills, desired wages etc.,
• Availability of suitable real estate; size and layout, facilities, distance to central office(s), availability of transit etc.,
• Ease of travel to the remote location,

When completing on on-site visit we like to examine the local market and see if the information we have been given seems accurate based upon local research. What are the other employers thoughts on labour availability, wages etc. Who is hiring, who is closing or laying off staff etc. It is also worthwhile to assess the number of days lost to weather or power/telephony outages. For example many of the Indian call centers have built their own telephony infrastructure and claim 99.99% uptime. This sounds very good, in North America we are used to 99.999% (5 9.s) uptime. But if we look at the difference in these to figures over a year we see a significant difference; under 99.999% uptime we would expect to be ‘down’ on average 5.25 hours per year. At 99.99% we would be down 52.5 hours (more than 2 days!) per year.

Where you are looking internationally you must also assess the political risks associated with a location in these countries. For example India regularly experiences heighten tension and low scale skirmishes and border disputes with Pakistan, the Philippines is subject to higher terrorist activities and attacks on Americans, Mexico still experiences on of the highest levels of kidnapping of executives anywhere in the world.

Lastly you should examine the fit between your requirements and the local culture of the location you are considering. The culture and your ability to effectively train staff to understand the cultural context of the callers is critical to the success of an offshore call center.

Let us know what you think of this response. How would you have answered this question? Let us know at
[email protected].

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