Customer Service

Aug 1, 2006

Proximity to the US and a bevy of English speakers are helping the Caribbean lure a growing slice of the global call-center business.

Jamaican women process reservations for a US tour operator.
Until recently, chances were pretty good that a toll-free phone call made from the US to an airline to book a flight, or to a bank to inquire about an account balance, would be answered by an agent in India or the Philippines, longtime leaders in the worldwide call-center industry.

But these days, the Caribbean is vigorously promoting itself as a sensible, low-cost outsourcing alternative to Asia – and it's enjoying huge success. Jamaica alone has 8,000 "seats" or positions, and 15,000 actual agents. Christopher McNair, an information technology advisor at the Jamaican government's investment promotion agency, Jampro, says that 18 companies – the largest being ACS in the Montego Bay Free Zone, West in Kingston and e-Services Group International (e-SGI) at both locations – now operate call centers in Jamaica.

In May, e-SGI, whose 1,500 workers process over...

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