Given its fast-rising status, Brazil has become an increasingly lucrative market for contact center companies. Sitel has been in Brazil for more than ten years and its comparatively ‘early’ entrance to the country is starting to pay off. The provider is poised to expand its local-market focus with five different centers, more than 4,000 employees, and a tri-lingual workforce.
In an exclusive talk, Marcelo Alves, country manager of Sitel in Brazil, talks about the challenges in the country, the interest in serving the local industry, and range of services offered locally.
NSAM: Sitel has three different service centers in Brazil. Where are they located and how many people are employed?
Alves: Today we have operations in five locations in Brazil. Three are in Sao Paulo, one in Rio de Janeiro and another in Fortaleza (capital city of the Northeastern State of Ceará). In these operations we have over 4,000 employees.
NSAM: How did the company choose each of those sites?
Alves: It is a process that must be done carefully and judiciously. We must not think only in the short term. In our industry, it is important to balance various aspects regarding site location: qualification of labor, some particular aspect of our client, as well as local incentives.
NSAM: Do all of them offer services in Portuguese, English and Spanish?
Alves: Today we offer services that use all three languages but predominantly Portuguese. It is important to mention that the services are not only Contact Center services, but also e-mail and chat.
NSAM: Considering the Brazilian market, what are the main challenges for a foreign outsourcing company that arrives in the country seeking clients?
Alves: The challenges are the same no matter the origin of the company. We’ve been in Brazil for over 10 years. We are a truly global company, able to offer a standardized service for companies that work with us in more than one country, always respecting the particularities of each country / site. For local businesses we are able to generate added value in light of the experience accumulated in various locations and segments.
NSAM: Is there are specific area of services in which Sitel is focused in Brazil?
Alves: We work with high end services. We have a strong tradition in technical support services, but we offer services aimed at the high end segments; financial, telecommunications, and the services sectors are among the largest users of contact center services. We are prepared to meet their demand, as well as other sectors.
NSAM: What are the main services offered from Sitel’s Brazilian operations today? Are there plans of expansion into new categories, products or services?
Alves: Today we offer a full range of services. We have Contact Center operations, Telemarketing programs, and Back Office operations among others all within the B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) markets. Recently, services related to Social Media have been an item of discussion with our clients and an objective of some meetings.
NSAM: Are there specific strategies focused on the domestic market, considering the recent growth realized locally?
Alves: We will enjoy the growth that Brazil has been experiencing over the past years and the growth to come. However, we intend to grow not only in local clients, but also maintain our growth regarding global customers. Being a global company, which operates in several market segments, allows us to collect a diverse experience that can useful in many industries and many countries. We have operations in several countries and this is an advantage that we can provide not only for companies that already have presence in a market, but also for those who want to expand into other countries.
NSAM: What is the division between local and foreign clients?
Alves: In Brazil we have global customers that work with us in other countries as well. In addition, we also have strictly local clients. Undoubtedly, as a function of the growth of Brazil, we intend to grow not only in the global customers but also in local customers. One goal does not preclude the other; instead it differentiates us when we approach a prospective customer.
NSAM: How does Sitel deal with the lack of a qualified workforce?
Alves: This is not something particular to Sitel or the market sector in which we operate. Just read the newspapers and magazines; we noticed that the demand for qualified labor is a challenge for all sectors in Brazil. We have improved our recruitment and selection process and offer a real career path. The vast majority of our current managers started their career at Sitel in other positions. Additionally, we offer salaries and benefits above the market average in terms of segments we serve.
NSAM: Is it easy to find English and Spanish speaking workers? Does Sitel have any training programs for new employees?
Alves: It is not difficult to recruit and select employees who have another language. It is a further prerequisite when defining the profile of the agent. We test written and spoken when selecting agents.