Nearshore Americas

Site Visit: A New Model for the Next Generation Delivery Center?

When you ask a call center agent what they like most about their job, and one of their answers is “the management team”, you know that this is not an ordinary Nearshore delivery center. Agents at Laurus International’s contact center in the Dominican Republic are loyal and it shows. How did the leadership team at Laurus manage to create such a committed workforce?

The approach of driving productivity by focusing on employee well-being has been widely adopted in the software world where employees are often treated to all manner of recreational and therapeutic diversions. But the global call center industry has a mixed record in treatment of employees – with some centers today still seating agents in boiler-room like settings. Laurus, by contrast, has created an environment where employee satisfaction is a critically important metric. “We make sure our employees have a great environment to work in. This is really what will separate us from our competitors,” said Matt Charles, Chief Operating Officer, as he recently took Kirk Laughlin of Nearshore Americas on a tour of his delivery center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Relieving the Back Aches

Laurus International has built in every conceivable convenience for its agents, from technology to reduce strain on their eyes to high-end ergonomic office chairs to minimize back pain. They even have an office masseuse, who comes around to the cubicles to work on employees’ shoulders and backs, while they’re on the phone! For a call center rep working eight hours or more a day, these are huge bonuses compared to the competition.

Laurus is also big on employee training. “We ensure that they have the most cutting edge technology and tools available in the marketplace, to create a learning experience that’s not just about product knowledge,” said Charles. “It’s about efficient learning that will allow them to become better at their job than if they were with a competitor in the same industry.”

When it comes to the privacy of clients’ data, Laurus takes security very seriously. ID checks and metal detectors make sure only appropriate personnel are in the building, and the call enter floor itself is designed for supervisors’ accessibility. Standing at the front of the room, you can see half the monitors at any given time. And the most impressive feature? Biometric scanning. Only by swiping themselves in at their terminals can agents access the applications that they are trained and authorized to use. In the contact center industry, this is useful not only for data security, but also for workforce management efficiency.

Lest you think all the gizmos and comforts are balanced by paying out lower wages to employees, Laurus International’s salary rate is 15-20% above that of their competitors, according to Luisana Perez, Director of Human Resources.

Planning for the Future

Originally a warehouse, Laurus International’s Santo Domingo call center houses over 500 employees. The plan over the next few years is to have about 2000 agents for both Spanish and English call center campaigns. “Based on our sales trajectory, we hope that by the end of 2014 we’ll have expanded to a new building,” says Charles.

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So will the enormous human focus of the company pay off, or will the costs become too great to sustain? This call center has only been in operation for about six months, but is seeing low rates of employee attrition, says Perez. Much of the reason is of course the above average compensation. However, all the efforts to make the agents’ work days more comfortable is clearly having a positive impact.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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