After living in the Netherlands for 35 years, since 2011 I have been part of the facility customer contact industry family in Suriname. It started as an adventure of a year, but now I have been active as a freelancer for almost twelve years (with the exception of a sabbatical of over a year) in various roles within customer contact Suriname. The experiences of the past 12 years have been very educational for me personally. A process where I have been able to grow both personally and professionally.
I especially found ‘coming home’ in Suriname exciting. It was a period when I learned to let go of my ‘Dutch’ frame of reference as a private person, but on a business level I managed to combine the knowledge of both worlds. This was often essential to be able to make the transition during my processes with the various customers. I have seen the customer contact landscape of the Surinamese plant change: from three pioneers with Dutch roots to seven large, international parties with a turnover of billions worldwide. Here in Suriname, we can be proud of the contribution we make to handling customer contact for Dutch customers.
We now handle customer contact in Suriname, via various parties, for the most appealing A-brands, from sectors that play an important role in the daily life of Dutch consumers. Various: from e-commerce, retail, telecom, logistics and (semi)government. Facility customer contact is gradually becoming a true industry in Suriname, by Surinamese standards. It is one of the preferred outsourcing destinations for Dutch-speaking customer contact.
Due to the favorable time difference of four hours in winter and five hours in summer, the Dutch working day is extended by at least four hours. This means that the customer contact agents start when the Dutch working day starts and continue until the Surinamese working day ends. Economic conditions are constantly changing worldwide (including in the Netherlands). Due to the current pressure on the Dutch labor market, in Suriname, especially in these turbulent times, we can help companies in outsourcing your customer contact to Suriname, whereby you can also realize savings on salary and overhead costs. The Surinamese labor market still offers sufficient opportunities to meet this demand and challenges from the Dutch market.’
I would like to emphasize that the employees in Suriname with MBO+, HBO and WO education levels are very driven to achieve good results. In the early years, I can still remember the discussions with clients about the Surinamese accent. The accent has never been a problem for me. Surinamese speak fluent Dutch. The Surinamese-Dutch accent and word choice are easy to understand and understand. We are also familiar with Dutch culture and customs. In my conversations with customers, I have always managed to deflect concerns about this and put more emphasis on the quality of the conversation with the customer. Is the employee able to put himself in my place? Is the employee able to click with the customer by applying the right kind of empathy? Let it be exactly the qualities that we in Suriname are good at and will get better at through our training.
I also hope for a spin-off effect for the Surinamese business community, where work experience and skills of employees from the customer contact sector, which can also be used elsewhere, spread like an oil pool beyond the Surinamese business community. In addition, as soon as the customer contact sector continues to grow, I hope that we can offer even more employment and career opportunities to our young Surinamese working population. And important: that the international BPOs also ensure that they are a good employer.
All in all, a fantastic development for my beloved country Suriname. I am very grateful that I can play a (modest) role in this. I embrace this development and look forward to a great year with everyone connected to this great customer contact family.
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