Outbound Call Center Featured Article

Philippines Displaces India for Top Outsourcing Spot

May 16, 2012

When most Americans hear the term “call center,” they usually picture outsourced workers sitting in rows and rows of cubicles in Mumbai, but call centers are increasingly moving to the Philippines, the BBC reports.

The Philippines have replaced India as the call center location of choice for the English speaking world, with 600,000 call center workers employed there, many of them working nights, during business hours for their customers across the Pacific.

“If you phone up to book a flight, buy a theatre ticket or complain that water is cascading out of your washing machine, you’re now more likely to speak to a Filipino than an Indian,” Kate McGeown wrote in her article.

The reason for the shift boils down to one thing: money. Filipino workers are willing to work for lower wages than American or Indian workers. Thanks to the American influence on the islands, the residents speak with an accent that Midwesterners may find much more understandable to their ears. Filipino culture also stresses being approachable and friendly, which extends to over the phone.

One factor driving the shift to the Philippines is the advent of IP Telephony, which has made the price of international long distance calls practically vanish.

Raffy David, one of the directors for Teleserv, a major call center told the BBC that most of the money saved on the phone bills and the lower wages of the workers is spent on improving their level of service and implementing new technologies to help them serve their customers better.

“It’s all about enhancing the customer’s experience,” he said. “We want to give them a fast, efficient and highly personalized service.”

While call center workers field calls from people across the Pacific Ocean, they’re also increasingly handling text-based communication, including email. Common queries are bundled up so a worker only has to reply once.

As social networking services like Facebook and Twitter (NewsAlert) join the customer service arsenal, call center workers in the Philippines are also creating posts as well.

Teleserv has responded by implementing a new system that allows every employee to see every message that comes in, whether by phone, email, Twitter or Facebook (NewsAlert) immediately.

Even the outsourcers need help sometimes. Teleserv has relied on the expertise of firms like Avaya to implement communications solutions.

“Especially now, with so many people using social media, businesses have to be very careful that their service is good,” Edgar Doctolero, country manager for Avaya (News Alert) Philippines told the BBC.

Akin to the old customer service maxim of a satisfied customer telling one person and a dissatisfied customer telling ten people, a bad encounter with a representative shared on social media can quickly explode into a viral PR nightmare.

Avaya is promoting a “click-to-chat” program, where Web surfers can get help over the Internet by opening chat window with a representative. Another solution is to make videos for common queries which can be sent to customers.

Many analysts, however, say that the future is in BPO, or Business Product Outsourcing. In addition to traditional customer service, BPO provides human resources, accounting, and also paralegal work. This is an area where India is still ahead, with revenues of $70 billion in 2010, compared with $9 billion in the Philippines. The government is offering tax breaks, fast-tracked permits and other resources to entice foreign businesses to move more of their services to the country.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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Philippines Displaces India for Top Outsourcing Spot