Contact Centers in the Philippines

Contact centers in the Philippines have been responsible for a big lift to the Philippine economy since the industry began to grow rapidly around year 2000. The industry is also known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and it actually started a few years previously in India but when the companies that were doing it realized that the Philippines had its own unique advantages too, that’s when the shift began toward setting up call centers in the Philippines.

In the year 2010 the Philippines contact center industry took first place, over India, in total numbers of agents and total revenues. The reason for that is simply that operating costs are lower in the Philippines than in India. Thus with contact centers in the Philippines you get the best of three worlds…….latest technology, lowest operating costs and clear cultural similarity that made Filipino call center agents perfect for working with their US customers.

The Philippines‘contact center’ type operation is actually a major facet of the BPO industry. The industry itself wouldn’t have been able to take hold and grow without the simultaneous and enabling increase in the efficiency of telecommunications. Contact centers in the Philippines do a variety of different kinds of work but almost all of it involves ‘live’ telephone contact with customers via the telephone.

Originally much of the work in customer contacts in the Philippines was via email because that’s the way customer support used to be handled most of the time. Although there was lots of ‘live’ customer support handled from US Help Desks, it wasn’t very long before the decision makers in the contact centers in the Philippines realized that their agents were capable of live interactions with clients.

From email customer support agents working for contact centers in the Philippines began to work on medical and legal transcriptions for clients within the legal and medical profession. They performed very well in that area so they moved into other areas which involved more direct contact with clients.

Thus contact centers in the Philippines quiet naturally got into
outgoing contact with clients and prospective clients. This was the beginning of the outsourced ‘telemarketing’ era for contact centers in the Philippines.

During these early years of the Philippine contact centers industry the US military still had a big presence in the Philippines. That presence is one of the reasons why Filipinos pick up so easily on work that requires a background of American culture. Many Filipinos have spent time if the US or have relatives there.

It’s not uncommon for prospective employers of contact centers in the Philippines to worry about the level of English proficiency of their clients. Generally speaking the English proficiency level of agents working in Philippines contact centers is very good.

Employees of contact centers in the Philippines must have taken English in high school (where it is offered although not mandatory). During the hiring process they receive extensive testing of both their written and spoken English.

Getting new agent recruits with good English isn’t as easy as it used to be but it is still possible. This competition for good recruits is one of the reason Philippine contact center salaries pay some much more than the national average. The average Filipino young person who works in a Philippine contact center spends a lot of time watching US TV and using American social websites like Facebook. They get a lot of English practice that way.

Plus, although the US no longer has a large military presence in the Philippines, the influence that remains is still strong. American culture is everywhere. All the latest US movies play in theaters throughout Manila and other major cities in the Philippines. American fashion, American TV, American music, American sport (especially basketball) is popular in the Philippines.

What all that means is that contact centers in the Philippines still have an almost inexhaustible supply of well educated, courteous and dedicated agents to fill their requirements.

All of the largest contact centers in the Philippines are located in the nation’s capital, Manila. Within Manila, most of the call centers are in the area know as Makati although in recent years they are starting to spring up in other areas of the city too.

Most US employers who use the services of call centers in the Philippines hire agents in large numbers. Some of the larger call centers employ 500+ agents in one location and simultaneously. That represents the top tier of the industry but there is also a mid tier of call centers which employ fewer workers and accept smaller contracts. It’s even possible to find companies where you can contract for as little as 5 agents.

The difference between these different tiers of companies is the level of technology, the experience of their management and the sophistication of their processes. For larger companies in the US who use these Philippine contact centers, these factors are important but for smaller employers wanting just 5 or more agents to do something simple such as lead generation, these mid-tier companies provide more than adequate service.