Call Center Philippines: Growing Industry
A decade ago, college-educated Filipinos were leaving the country to find work in other countries. While India still dominates the industry of the call center, Philippines is fairing close behind and is getting closer.
According to an outsourcing industry research firm, customer service, telemarketing and other call center jobs rose from zero to 15 percent in just 10 years; making the Philippines the second largest outsourcing destination in the world.
India is still the top contender in the business process outsourcing market even if their growth decreased from 80 percent in 2004 to around 40% last year. The BPO industry contributed USD 11 Billion to India's growing economy while the Philippines earned USD 7.2 Billion. There is still a long way to go to overtake India.
Why is the Philippines gaining high ground in the outsourcing race?
Risk diversification - The clients or companies in need of outsourcing services are wary of putting their crucial business processes in one location. A good business plan always account for the unexpected like natural disasters including flood, earthquakes, typhoons, and political instability resulting from coup d’etat, civil wars and other conflicts.
English proficiency - The Philippines is one the countries with the highest English speaking population in the world. As 6o percent of the BPO's clients come from the United States, English proficiency is a major factor in deciding which country to outsource. The fact that Filipinos have a neutral accent means that callers from US and Europe will be able to converse with the agents easily. Having a neutral accent makes Filipinos trainable to adapt American, Australian and British accents too.
Familiarity with Western Culture - Filipinos are familiar with American pop culture; in fact, they are consumers of American music, movies, TV, and literature. The affinity for the western way of life means they can relate to their foreign customers easier than other agents from countries like India where they still require training in American current events and culture.
Low Overhead - Another attraction Manila, Cebu and other Philippine cities have is the low cost of office space compared to cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi. The government also lures outsourcing companies by offering tax breaks and incentives.
Young professional job seekers - With 91 million youth population and a high unemployment rate, BPO's are the largest employers in the country. The pool of young college graduates increases every year so companies are in no short supply of talented agents to man their phones.
While the country is indeed gaining on India’s lead, there are challenges that have to be overcome if the Philippines wants to ultimately be the number one destination for companies abroad. At the top of that list is the political stability and education infrastructure. The culture of corruption has got to stop. The government needs to prioritize spending including supporting educational reforms. The decline in quality of education means that the next generation of Filipinos will lose their edge especially with English proficiency. Measures have to be taken to ensure the future of call center Philippines.
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