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Amazon Will Open a Call Center in Costa Rica

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Amazon Will Offer 300 Permanent Call Center Positions in Costa Rica.

A quick glance at any Costa Rica Newspaper’s classified section will yield several call center jobs, aimed at English-speaking workers who are willing to talk frustrated customers down from their angry ledges, provide technical support, and offer polite customer service to a company’s global customers. The latest member to Costa Rica’s call service market, announced this week, will be the book & goods giant Amazon.com.

With a time zone similar to the United States, a highly-educated pool of workers, and a good level of English proficiency, Costa Rica is a favorite choice for budget-minded U.S. and Canadian companies. In addition to these similarities, Costa Ricans are close in culture and mindset to North Americans, and the number of national nearshoring companies assures a variety of choice and quality. Indeed, nearshore outsourcing, or nearshoring, is the the outsourcing of services to country’s whose time zones are similar to your own.

Amazon.com, which has been in business since 1995, sells almost every good imaginable, from books to home exercise equipment. It is a member of the S&P 500, and in the second trimester of 2008, posted a global net income of $4 billion, a 38% increase from the same time period in 2007. With such a fast-growing customer base, it is a surprise that the company has not expanded internationally since 2003.

Within the next three months, Amazon.com will open its Costa Rican doors, marking its ninth global location. Amazon Support Services Costa Rica, S.R.L. will offer approximately 300-700 jobs in Costa Rica, and will begin offering customer service from its offices in Heredia, San José’s northern neighbor. About 400 positions will be temporary, only necessary for the last several months of each year, while 300 new jobs will be necessary full-time for at least the first two years.

Amazon.com’s arrival to Costa Rica’s outsourcing market elicits both positive feelings and worries from informed individuals. While the new offices will bring more foreign investment in Costa Rica, some experts worry that the nation’s English-speaking population won’t be up to snuff. Indeed, companies such as Sykes warn that Costa Rica’s major limitations for expansion will be its own availability of English-speaking employees.

Not all share these worries. “The numbers show the dimension and importance of Amazon. The fact that [Amazon.com] has trusted Costa Rica to service its ninth international location is a clear signal of the advantages that our country offers, among them the quality of its pool of employees,” general director of the Costa Rica Development Initiatives Coalition (CINDE), Gabriela Llobet, affirmed.

Amazon certainly seems satisfied with its choice. The company began evaluating Costa Rica’s call center potential in January 2008. Obviously, Amazon’s ultimate decision, after several months of review and inspection, illustrates their faith that Costa Rica can support the company’s needs. “Costa Rica has developed a great infrastructure that complies with our needs and has become the base of operations for other customer service centers, which means that we’ll be able to use this experience and talent,” director of Amazon North America’s customer service, Brent Jaye, emphasized.

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Written by Erin Raub

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