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  • Writer's pictureSteve Shefveland

Nearshore? No, Think Next Door!

The phrase "Nearshore Call Centers" has been a hot topic in the call center outsourcing business for several years. Overall, outsourcing is very important. Companies need to shed non-core activities to reduce costs and improve margins. Most importantly, companies are best when they focus on their core offering, and outsource non-core tasks to organizations who make them core to what they do. Therefor, the priorities of outsourcing non-core tasks becomes a measure of cost and quality that can be managed without consuming too much time and expense.

So, what does the phrase "nearshore" mean? Why are nearshore call centers important? And, is nearshore the best solution for companies in the U.S. who wish to shed costs associated with non-core tasks? The folks at TechTarget define nearshore this way: "Nearshore outsourcing is the practice of getting work done or services performed by people in neighboring countries rather than in your own country. Many companies in the United States, for example, outsource work to Canada and Mexico. Geographic proximity means that travel and communications are easier and less expensive, there are likely to be at least some commonalities between the cultures, and people are more likely to speak the same language." This is a very good definition. However, over the years countries other than Mexico and Canada have successfully re-defined what nearshoring is, resulting in poor quality, high costs and negative perceptions of the call center industry.

For example, I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and there is a large outsourcing hub that sprung up many years ago in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. San Pedro Sula is roughly 1,945 miles as the crow flies from Phoenix, or 9 to 12 hours of flight time one-way. This is not a nearshore location, this is an offshore location. Why? Honduras takes too long to get to, is too expensive when you factor in time, travel and management costs, has a relatively low educated labor force who are not culturally aligned with the U.S. (resulting in poor service delivery). In addition, since 2010, "Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world", according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which is part of the Department of State.

Now, I am not just picking on Honduras, I am simply making a point of the risks associated with locations too far away and "unconnected" to U.S. culture. Yes, countries like Honduras do have some aspects of being "connected" to the U.S., for for the most part, you will run into many problems if you need to staff a call center with 100 agents who are all "aligned" with the U.S. You just won't find them. Finally, many of the countries and cities in outside of Mexico have too many call centers. They are saturated, resulting in very high employee attrition which degrades quality and increases your costs, thereby defeating the purpose of outsourcing to begin with.

I suggest we re-define Nearshore to Next Door! You need a partner who is close to the U.S.A by air and by car. You need a partner who's employees have traveled-to, lived-in, gone to college or grew up in the U.S.A. The employees serving your customers need to know the geography of the U.S., speak and write exceptional English, and understand the sports teams and customs of U.S. citizens. And the location needs to be a safe city with a hard working employment base (not a tourist town). In addition, you need a number of colleges and universities to recruit from, and you need a country with a history of law enforcement and historical case law. This is not Honduras, nor Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Columbia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc. (all of these countries and locations are offshore and do not fit the characteristics outlined above). The best definition of nearshore is, Mexico and Canada. And when it comes to low cost, highly educated quality labor, culturally aligned with the U.S., Mexico is your choice.

So, if you are seeking a robust, low-cost solution for your existing call center, ramping a new call center or project, or you wish to move some (or all) of your work from an existing offshore call center, please contact me at, or simply call me anytime at 602-312-8900. Our location in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico is the best definition of a nearshore call center that you will find. And, yes, it is extremely safe. One of the safest cities in Mexico! I know, I've done business in Hermosillo for over 10 years.

Steve Shefveland, Founder

Emerging Global Services, LLC

602-312-8900 /

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