Selling Fiji as a BPO location



By Mark Mahoney.

Fiji is one of the most popular travel destinations for Australia, the flight from Sydney to Fiji is shorter than Perth. Now it is looking to become a desirable BPO location as well. There are a number of attributes that can sum up the attractiveness of Fiji as a BPO delivery location for English language, but the simple answer is brand protection.

Fiji has all the key benchmarks that put it on par with leading BPO locations.  Except, it was a relative unknown.

We started our international contact centre in Fiji in 2009.  Today we support 11 international brands in Fiji.  Did we know, going in, that Fiji would be such a success?  Well, I would say yes.  It was a calculated risk.  Fiji has all the key benchmarks that put it on par with leading BPO locations.  Except, it was a relative unknown.

At the time all our English work was handled in our contact centre in South Africa.  We had existing clients who were looking for the cost savings they could experience in India and the Philippines, but they expected the same customer experience they had grown accustomed to during many years of outsourcing to us in South Africa.

With increased negative publicity around overall customer experience, language barriers and cultural dis-connect in low cost BPO locations, we were looking for an alternative which will ensure competitive rates and reduced operational costs, without compromising our brand and our customers’ brands.

Fiji’s unique selling proposition

Fijians have an excellent and natural command of both spoken and written English…

Fiji offered us an alternative BPO location, with a unique selling proposition – the People.  The people are innately friendly and their natural attitude towards customer service translate exceptionally well to the contact centre environment.  After so many years in the BPO space, we knew these qualities cannot be taught.  All fine and well, the country has a service culture, but what about key benchmarks such as English language skills, literacy, education, telecommunication and infrastructure?

Fiji delivered:

  • Fijians have an excellent and natural command of both spoken and written English, due to a heritage stemming from being a British colony until 1970
  • Fiji’s literacy rate of about 94% is higher than that of India (57%), China (84%), Dominican Republic (84%), and Mexico (91%), and is only slightly lower than that of the Philippines (95%) (UNESCO)
  • Fiji is the centre of trading in the South Pacific for – Asia, USA and Europe Region, making it a hub for global communications and transportation (shipping and air travel) routes
  • The Southern Cross communications cable ( linking Fiji directly to Australia, New Zealand and the US puts Fiji on par with any competing location globally
  • Agents are extremely proud to service International brands, resulting in contact centre work being perceived by agents as a worthwhile career. Attrition levels are significantly lower than industry norms

 The challenges:

Fiji has the potential to become a high quality BPO and captive call centre destination, what it lacks is global awareness.  A lot has happened in the last couple of years, with big brands such as American Airlines, Lebara Mobile and Swiss International Airlines outsourcing to Fiji.  Recently Fiji was also shortlisted in the National Outsourcing Association Awards as Destination of the Year 2013.  This accolade has helped boost awareness, but there is still a long way to go.

What next?

As an organisation we are committed to developing the BPO industry in Fiji and building up the local Fijians’ expertise in contact centre operations.  Today we service clients from the UK, US, New Zealand and Australia. There is a surge to outsource in Australia at the moment, but many companies want onshore.  Once they realise the cost savings and evaluate the quality, there is no argument against Fiji as a nearshore alternative. Over the next few years, we expect to grow the BPO industry by servicing more Australian, as well as international brands.

Mark Mahoney (based in Suva) – General Manager Fiji for Mindpearl

Mark has a solid background and senior management experience in business management and sales development within Travel and Tourism covering the wholesale, retail & trade aspects for over 20 years. He has travelled extensively across the globe and possesses a deep understanding of these sectors. Mark joined Mindpearl in 2009 and is at the forefront of the of Mindpearl Fiji’s success.
June 12, 2014

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