As they face increasing operational and labor costs, large corporations especially in the United States turn to outsourcing some of their business processes such as call center operations to offshore locations like the Philippines where costs are much lower.
Offshore call center outsourcing firms in the Philippines form the most dynamic sector in the business process outsourcing industry in the country. From 2000 to 2004, the industry has reflected 100 percent year-over-year growth in terms of the number of people employed. Today, there are over 300,000 call center professionals working in more than 100 call center outsourcing firms.
Large call centers have reported 100 percent growth, with about 100 new recruits every week. The call center industry is not only one of the major sources of employment in the country, but is also one of the largest source of revenues with over US$ 3 billion generated in year 2006.
With less than a decade of existence, offshore call center outsourcing firms in the Philippines have proven its call center capabilities. The advantages of call center outsourcing firms are:
- A large labor force with a strong command of American English and an affinity with the culture of the United States, which is definite advantage since 90 percent of call center clients are American companies. These advantages makes it easy to train Filipinos in American voice/accent and culture, and greatly minimize the language barriers.
- The presence of robust yet cost-effective telecommunication infrastructures in the country, which is essential since internet technology is the basic requisite of call center firms in the Philippines
- The availability of high-quality and affordable real estate
- Tax incentives given by the Philippine government to foreign investors
- Offshore call center outsourcing firms in the Philippines have relatively low employee turnover rates compared to call centers in other countries
- The quality of life in the Philippines is quite commendable and appeals to many expatriates
Some of the largest call center firms in the Philippines are owned by domestic telecommunication companies, while other call centers that operates in Manila have their main headquarters in the United States. Multinational companies that are mainly from the United States and some other countries like Australia have also established their offshore call center outsourcing firms in the country.
Offshore call center outsourcing firms in the Philippines provide a wide range of customer support services which includes customer care, technical support, financial services, and travel services. Call center outsourcing firms can handle both inbound and outbound calls with available seats ranging from 500 to about 5000.
A typical offshore call center outsourcing firm in the Philippines operates three shifts to provide 24/7 customer support to clients. Given the 12-hour time difference between the United States and the Philippines, most call center agents work in graveyard shifts, usually from midnight to 8 am to keep up with the time in the United States. Call center agents receive night shift differentials in addition to their basic salary.
In general, an offshore call center outsourcing firm Philippines looks for the following skills in a call center representative: excellent English communication skills, customer service skills, and problem-solving skills. The Filipino workforce – English and IT proficient, college-educated and service oriented – possess all these skills. Indeed, global companies looking for an offshore call center outsourcing firm found an abundance of skills in the Philippines.
An offshore call center outsourcing firm in the Philippines conducts rigorous recruitment process to ensure that only the most competent and dedicated individuals will be hired. The recruitment process usually starts with phone screening, to determine the voice quality of the applicant.
Once the applicant qualify for the phone screening stage, a schedule for an initial interview will be set. In this stage, the recruitment team evaluates the applicant’s communication skills and attitude. Applicants must be able to express themselves clearly and in a confident manner. Those who will succeed on the second stage will undergo to a series of tests including aptitude tests, typing tests, call simulations, etc.
During the final interview, the recruitment team will evaluate the specific skills of the applicant such as customer service skills, technical skills or sales and marketing skills. For many offshore call center outsourcing firm, that are managing several client accounts, this evaluation will help determine if the person is best suited in a customer service account, sales account or technical support account.
Successful applicants must complete call center training before taking the actual or live calls. Training in call center outsourcing firms includes English and accent training, customer service skills, training and product/service-specific training, which normally takes a month to accomplish. Throughout the training period, they will be given numerous exams and call simulations.
By the end of the training program, trainees will listen to actual calls by call center representatives on the floor and will be asked take live calls with the assistance of their coaches. Offshore call center outsourcing firm in the Philippines continues to provide training and refresher courses to call center agents, to maintain the quality of their service and keep the agents updated on the technology upgrades as well as the latest product and service offerings to clients.
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