Hospitality sector an enabler of BPO growth - Epstein
Yoni Epstein, founder and executive chairman of itelbpo, believes that the Caribbean's long history of tourism and hospitality has created a culture of service that fuels growth and success in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which relies heavily on the ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences to global brands.
Speaking on the second episode of 'Happy Hour Chat with Yoni', itelbpo's monthly webinar series, Epstein revealed that on launching the company, he embarked on a process of recruiting talent with experience from the local tourism industry to build his first group of customer service agents.
"They already have a step-up on the game of customer experience. The hospitality industry has been prevalent in Jamaica for the last 50-60 years, and from that, they have learnt how to deliver a very high level of service, which transitions well into the contact-centre industry," said Epstein in response to moderator Melissa O'Brien, research vice-president, customer engagement, retail and travel strategies at HFS Research, one of the most influential analyst firms in the world.
According to Epstein, there are other reasons why Jamaica is especially attractive for the BPO sector: it offers a great climate, a conducive business environment, reliable infrastructure, and extensive air-travel routes.
"As it relates to competition, this is important in the wider context of the Caribbean, which continues to attract a high level of interest in the BPO sector due to an inviting culture and high-touch customer service approach, nurtured by businesses directly and indirectly associated with the tourism industry. Ultimately, all of that comes with accessing a skilled labour force," added Epstein
He argued that a good rapport with customers is one of the most important attributes of a good agent and noted that this plays an important role in the contact centre's overall success and helps to eliminate what is called 'dead air' - breaks in conversation that end up in silence.
Epstein said that an agent's ability to mitigate these occurrences is key and that this unique trait is one that tourist industry workers seem to have already mastered.
"In the tourism industry, you're at the bars, you're on the beach, you're trying to ensure people are having a great time. You're much more open to starting a conversation and building that rapport with the customer, which really transcends through to the end-user having a great experience," he said.
The itelbpo chairman added that providing a tourism-minded service approach is an even greater asset when servicing travel and hospitality clients, which accounts for approximately 25 per cent of the company's business.
"We cater to the needs of both large and small businesses within the tourism industry. We are one of several vendors for Hilton hotels and take reservation calls as well as customer care calls. Itelbpo also supports small, independent properties, where all their calls are registered in a central reservation system, which allows our agents to assist their customers in the same way a big brand would," stated Epstein.
Itelbpo continues to provide innovative technological and outsourcing solutions to customers across all industries. The company that started in 2012 with seven employees now boasts 2,000 employees with operations in Kingston, Montego Bay, Bahamas, Mexico, and a work-at-home staff spread across the United States.