How did you decide to risk moving to Costa Rica? Inside BS Show guest Richard Blank
Dave Lorenzo: Where I live in Miami is I, I live, uh, probably 15, not even maybe 10 miles. The Western border of Miami-Dade county, uh, you know, heading toward the Western part of Florida. And this particular area is, uh, was settled by, uh, a lot of Cubans. So when we go to the supermarket, where in my neighborhood, we, more than likely we speak Spanish.
Dave Lorenzo: Um, when we go to get our car washed, we speak Spanish. When we, uh, go to the doctor's office and the, and the, the receptionist greets us, she'll greet us in Spanish. She speaks English in Spanish, but it's just the, it's the dominant language here in, in my neighborhood. Now, when you get toward the toward Miami beach, It's a tourist area.
Dave Lorenzo: So people there will, you know, the default there will be English, but the, the specific reason that my family and I moved to this part of Florida is because we wanted a, a culturally diverse experience for our kids. My kids go to a bilingual school. They speak English half the day. They speak Spanish half the day.
Dave Lorenzo: They speak Spanish with, um, their grandmother on my wife's side, they speak English with my parents and they have tested out. My son is in seventh grade. He's tested out of high school Spanish. My daughter is two years behind him. She's tested out of high school, Spanish. So they're taking other languages now in school.
Dave Lorenzo: My, my point about that. We were kind of forward thinking and we, we understand the global nature of the workforce today. And I think 20 years ago, when I visited Costa Rica, it was like a novelty to offshore your call center. Now, I think nobody, nobody would even think twice. And in fact, you may have people in Texas who have a heavier, uh, you know, who have a heavier accent than people in Costa Rica.
Dave Lorenzo: So I don't think it makes any difference today. I don't think people would be put off in any way, as long as they can get the level of service that they're accustomed to Richard. But before we get into the details of all the types of services you provide and. Do that? Tell us your story. How did you come to you now?
Dave Lorenzo: You've been in Costa Rica for 20 plus years. How did you come to be in Costa Rica in the first place?
Richard Blank: Well, my story began in Northeast Philadelphia. When I graduated Abington high school, you were very fortunate. Uh, Dave, because in my family, my grandparents were speaking Romanian, Russian, Polish, and German.
Richard Blank: And so I'm the first person in my family that decided that Spanish should be my major. all of my friends were going to Ivy league and they were studying law in medicine and architecture engineering, or going into their family's business. I chose to double down on languages and go to the university of Arizona.
Richard Blank: I chose a communication major, which made it a lot of fun for those five years, but I also realized that I could pick up public speaking skills, rhetoric skills, and nonverbal communication, micro expression, reading. I was able to get an internship at Telemundo. Jake home was kind enough to give me in 1995 and 96, my senior and super senior year, I worked for promotions and public relations at Telemundo and Tucson there.
Richard Blank: I was able to meet, and this is dating myself gentleman by the name of Pedro SEK and Miguel Kitana. One was in charge of the news out of Los Angeles. And the other had the main talk show in Miami, across from Christina, from uni. . And so imagine a 22 year old boy that is doing public speaking events with these players, these professional men that have made it and have taken the time to mold my confidence and to give me the self-assurance to stand in front of 5,000 people at a Tucson Toro's baseball game and do a Halina Cantina Chile in contest.
Richard Blank: And so given these opportunities that a young man, it molded my confidence that I could do. and I knew that I could do it in two languages. And so postgrad, I landed a job that was for the importers of Corona beer. So I worked that in the Southwest of the United States and that was incredible. And when I was 27, I had the opportunity to move to Costa Rica for a couple months to do some training at a friend of mine, from college, his call center.
Richard Blank: And as you know, when you fly here and you're here, you fall in love with Costa Rica. So everything of mine got put in storage. If you can get past your parents, guilt, Dave, you can live anywhere in the world. And I decided to take a chance. I worked at my friend's call center for four years, and this was back in the day when we were making calls with Cisco phones and printouts of Excel sheets with highlighter pens.
Richard Blank: And it was a young environment. It was a fun environment, a bilingual environment of, of artists, of speech. And I got to see the highs and the lows and the gripes and the successes of it. But. Between me and you. I also saw areas of improvement and the areas of improvement that I saw the most was how people are treated.
Richard Blank: Not saying my friend didn't do a good job, an amazing job, but a lot of people felt like numbers, where they felt like robots. And my other friends and supervisors from other call centers tell me that sometimes agents are not properly onboarded or they're not prepared, or the S scripts are shody. With spelling in grammar mistakes, and maybe some over aggressive language that you would see in a Glen Gary boiler room Wolf of wall street movie, that might be completely out of character for somebody here because we're, we're in a very strict Catholic country, Dave and these young men and women have to go home and tell their parents what they do for a living.
Richard Blank: So we are extremely selective of the campaigns that come in. Not, not only can I fulfill your needs, but I gotta make sure I don't have an attrition. And I gotta make sure that the, that the agents that come in, that we invest in that are able to stay here and build upon that. So we just don't waste that.
Richard Blank: And so my thoughts about how I got here, you don't say you're gonna be a call center CEO for a major in college, or when you're seven years old, you tell that to your mother, but I definitely knew this. I was the only one out of my group of friends that could speak Spanish. And not only that, but every job I had, I was the one that could go out to the Southwest Phoenix when I was selling telecommunications and sell a T1 to somebody and translate it for my supervisor.
Richard Blank: And I knew I had something that was different and it was wonderful for me cuz I enjoyed it and that I was embraced. I might had a grammar mistake in my subjunctive tense, but people would invite me in correct me and feed me and then recommend me to 10 of their. So why do you think that every environment that I was in when I was able to make these calls in Spanish, that I ran the board, I could do it in English and I did, but I also did it in Spanish.
Richard Blank: I could double gun it. I did two boards, English and Spanish. My point being is that you can show this sort of the first impression, respect Dave, when not only are you bilingual, but so am I, and we're doing this without even knowing each other. It. And so it really assisted me in having these sort of engagements and finding a lot of these things in common and really reduced any sort of defense or anger or setting a tone of aggression that that was eliminated immediately when I knew exactly what to say.
Richard Blank: And, and these are gonna be some of the additional selling techniques we'll talk about later and stuff. But my friend, I just wanted to discuss with you the ethics.. Of how I am and how I was raised. I'm when someone calls me a salesman and I take that as a compliment, I might look and sound like one, but Dave, I'm an educator.
Richard Blank: I don't ever force a hand from an educated point of view. My clients, my agents, my friends, and anyone I relate to then makes a decision. And I feel that if given the chance to explain how I feel and to answer their questions, everybody can leave with something on the. I, I think it's a wonderful way to start relationships.
Inside BS Show has accepted my invitation to join your audience for a solid discussion regarding taking a chance by moving abroad and starting a company from scratch in Costa Rica. Dave Lorenzo discusses with Richard advanced telemarketing strategy, conflict management, interpersonal soft skills, customer support, rhetoric, gamification, employee motivation and phonetic micro expression reading.
Richard’s journey in the call center space is filled with twists and turns. When he was 27 years old, he relocated to Costa Rica to train employees for one of the larger call centers in San Jose. With a mix of motivational public speaking style backed by tactful and appropriate rhetoric, Richard shared his knowledge and trained over 10 000 bilingual telemarketers. Richard Blank has the largest collection of restored American Pinball machines and antique Rockola Jukeboxes in Central America making gamification a strong part of CCC culture.Richard Blank is the Chief Executive Officer for Costa Rica’s Call Center since 2008.
Mr. Richard Blank holds a bachelors degree in Communication and Spanish from the University of Arizona and a certificate of language proficiency from the University of Sevilla, Spain. A Keynote speaker for Philadelphia's Abington High School 68th National Honors Society induction ceremony. Giving back to Abington Senior High School is very important to Mr. Blank. As such, he endows a scholarship each year for students that plan on majoring in a world language at the university level.
Costa Rica’s Call Center (CCC) is a state of the art BPO telemarketing outsource company located in the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica. Our main focus has been, and will always be to personally train each and every Central America call center agent so that we may offer the highest quality of outbound and inbound telemarketing solutions and bilingual customer service to small and medium sized international companies, entrepreneurs as well as fortune 500 companies.
We encourage you to visit one of our call centers on your next personal vacation or business trip to Central America’s paradise, Costa Rica. While you are here, we would recommend taking an extra day of your trip to visit breathtaking virgin beaches, play golf next to the ocean, try your luck at deep sea fishing, explore tropical jungles, climb volcanos or just relax in natural hot springs. Come and see for yourself why call center outsourcing in Costa Rica is a perfect solution for your growing company and a powerhouse in the BPO industry.