Four questions for the call center and BPO industries that need to be asked

puzzled-lookLet’s keep it simple. Certain members of the call center/business process outsourcing (BPO) industry took the “offending” lines from GMA-7’s drama series “The Borrowed Wife” way too personally. But why dwell on a perceived slight over something that may or may not be true when there are bigger things to worry about? Because these bigger things will affect the entire industry, regardless of whether the “slurs” affect each of you at a personal level or not.

Here’s a chance for everyone to engage in more “constructive” dialogue. Following below is a list of questions that people both inside and outside the industry will be able to relate to, and will and should inevitably ask of you, as they try to, as Filipinos are fond of saying again and again, “understand you”:

1) With regards to the ‘slurs’ from the TV show – “hindi ako nag-aaral para sumagot lang ng telepono!” (I did not study just to answer phone calls!) and “pang-walang pinag-aralan lang yan” (it is solely for the uneducated) – in your point of view, what is the root cause of people having these and other negative perceptions of the call center/BPO industry? Why do these perceptions persist?

2) What are the steps that you, as a part of the call center/BPO industry, propose, in order to negate, correct, and reverse the effects of such a perception, both at the micro/individual and macro/collective levels?

3) The “image” that the call center/BPO industry in the Philippines currently has at the macro level is that of its competitive advantages – cheap and abundant labor, a good (albeit deteriorating) English-speaking workforce, familiarity with Western cultural attitudes, and the friendly and welcoming nature of the Filipino people. As the global outsourcing trend gradually moves towards phasing out having to speak to telephone operators, how does the industry plan to adjust? What other competitive advantages does the local industry plan to develop and pitch?

4) What is your value proposition for the call center/BPO industry?

Hypothetical situation A: I am a job seeker with degree X. I have been offered several opportunities with various companies with various degrees of relevance to what I finished in school. I also have been offered an opportunity with a call center/BPO. Why should I take the call center/BPO job above all the others?

Hypothetical situation B: I am an investor looking to start a business here in the Philippines. Assume that capital is no object. I have been offered various opportunities to partner with local businessmen in various sectors, and one of them involved a chance of putting up a call center/BPO here to cater to my company’s needs. Why should I do so here in the Philippines?

Quite simply, sell your industry.

Because the call center/BPO industry reputedly emphasizes problem solving and critical thinking, if you know the industry really well, it really shouldn’t be too hard to answer these questions.

Start thinking about the inevitable future, ladies and gentlemen.

customer focus
The ultimate end point of any company, regardless of whether call centers continue to exist or not.

[Photo courtesy: ryanaweaver.com and aronline.co.uk]

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. – But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. – But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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49 Comments on "Four questions for the call center and BPO industries that need to be asked"

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joeld
Guest

@ FA, nice challenge.

But don’t you think you are starting another whinefest?

cynicjam
Member
Just to share: The initial reason I see why people prefer to work for a BPO company is the MONEY, plain and simple. It’s quite sad to see people taking this alternative simply because the jobs that their degree demands is not enough to support their needs/they need fast and hard cash easily. It’s a monotonous job to be a CC agent, no matter how big you’re earning. I was a former recruitment specialist for a call center and I saw many of my office mates from the same department having their work drives eroded because of the monotony of… Read more »
libertas
Guest
From comments am starting to see a trend/areas to be addressed Strategic issues: Infrastructure Innovation Integration Insularity Operational problems: Motivation Monotony Management Measurement ( inclined to add manners – attitude) Would be interested in the following since you were recruitment specialist Were people given modular/additional skills training Was there a career path/progression Did people have the flexibility to change tasks – inbound/outbound – or did it not make any difference to the monotony Was ther an effort to vary/expand/rotate the job Did unrealistic performance targets rule the day/night Was there bonuses/profit sharing What % of hires were graduates What was… Read more »
cynicjam
Member
1)Were people given modular/additional skills training – Time management and leadership training were the only skills training received from our team alone. 2)Was there a career path/progression – Phonescreener->Rec. Specialist->Rec. Manager only 3)Did people have the flexibility to change tasks – inbound/outbound – or did it not make any difference to the monotony – Slight flexibility of tasks in the sense that employees would be given like 2x a year for a different task that is related to their job, other than that the job was monotonous (ie taking calls and interviewing people thru phone 8 hours a day 4)Was… Read more »
libertas
Guest

thanks v much
will ponder and reply

Jon Limjap
Guest
Disclaimer: I am not a call center agent, I’m a software developer, but have been involved in some BPO companies. There are no easy answers to this challenge but: 1. The former incarnation of call center operations are telephone operators, which was back then traditionally an entry-level, low paying job. Filipinos being taught by their parents to measure the size of their egos with the size of their paychecks, old stereotypes exist despite the fact that call center agents are better-trained not only in English but in many technical skills required in their specific client, and even if they are… Read more »
joeld
Guest

Well, funny how you reacted to no.2. It seems that pinoys give more importance to this than no.3 and no.4.

I am with you with regards to the PRC thing. Now I am a proud holder of a PRC thingy which is basically useless in my current line of work in my place of work. But hey, it had served it’s purpose only after a few years after graduation, after that, it was just used to make my wallet thicker even if I didn’t have enough money.

ChinoF
Member

I think people should understand that those lines, “hindi ako nag-aaral para sumagot lang ng telepono!” (I did not study just to answer phone calls!) and “pang-walang pinag-aralan lang yan” (it is solely for the uneducated), are based on actual perceptions in real-life society. Erroneous as they may be, they’ve been around a long time. So hearing them as a line in a TV drama doesn’t deserve such outrage.

libertas
Guest
Globalisation, increased competition, technological innovations, and emerging markets are just some of the drivers creating both challenges and opportunities for companies and countries. The challenge is to adapt to the new paradigm, the opportunity is to create new jobs/businesses . It stands to reason that there will be winners and losers. The winners will understand the markets/customers, take strategic long term decisions, and deliver at the highest quality. 3rd world countries currently have labour cost advantages – critical during the recession – but less so as companies revert back to quality of service and innovation as the key differentiators. Service… Read more »
Michael C. Rubio
Guest
I had 2 stints in the industry, both in Human Resources (though I have front-line experience and immersion) where the value proposition challenge is a very real thing. I got to work in a Filipino run outfit prior to its sale, and then to a huge transnational. While there are major differences in terms of operational maturity, process effectiveness, and culture between the two, I truly believe I learned immeasurable (and perhaps because they are intangible) things while there, that I truly benefit from today. I got good while I was there, I wasn’t learning as much and as fast… Read more »
Myrna Padilla
Guest
This is a little off topic, but I want to share a very different perspective on the IT-BPO industry with your readers. I am a mother, who spent 20 years working overseas, cleaning other people’s toilets, mopping other people’s floors and raising other people’s children. All in a desperate bid to make sure my own two girls graduated college. They did. Since 2006, I have owned and operated a small BPO in Davao and I am proud to be a small part of an industry that has created over 800,000 jobs. What does 800,000 jobs really mean? As a former… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest

Good for you. What I want to know, however, is if the parents are in a BPO work schedule different from that of their kids; because if so, then the disconnect remains despite the elimination of the distance hurdle.

PiDJoNG
Guest

I was born and raised with my Dad as an OFW, I have two kids, and I’m thankful that this industry.

Even with the different time, parents can still spend their weekends with their kids, hug and kiss them goodnight. In an emergency you can file a leave, if in office ; be home in less than an hour.

I do hope I have enlightened you.

Myrna Padilla
Guest

Working the night shift does create many problems and challenges for a family to overcome. However, those challenges seem small compared to working overseas and being separated from those you love most for months or years at a time. The separation itself creates a pain and anguish so deep that it must be felt and experienced to be fully understood. I simply do not have the words to describe it properly for you.

Nikki
Guest
Certainly agree with Myrna. It’s not a fantastic job to hear complaints everyday, or some who look down on you. However, it’s the lesser evil compared to working overseas and not seeing your kids for years. Every job has a downside. It’s just what’s important for you really. Your priority. Yes, for someone with good education from the best school to work as a CSR, advisor, and whatever else you call it, is, well, difficult to accept, or take, for lack of better word. But, unless you’re promoted to managerial post with a salary of 40k and more, I don’t… Read more »
libertas
Guest
I dont think anyone would disagree with that sentiment. The issue was actually how to increase jobs further still and ensure people currently employed can enjoy job stability in the face of market and technological change, increase their individual skills and future value through appropriate training, improve motivation and for companies to move up the value chain. Since you work in the industry your perspective on the specifics would be enlightening re strategies, policies, and particularly home grown technologies and training initiatives. Davao i think is classified as a first wave city. What incentives apply. How is marketing co-ordinated (… Read more »
Myrna Padilla
Guest
@libertas You are correct, Davao is a first wave city. My particular challenge is finding talent. I am small, only 30 people, mostly PHP and .Net programmers. I have jobs for senior .Net developers that I can not fill. Same with mobile. As for strategies, policies etc. I will share, but full disclosure would dictate that I point out I never graduated high school, so I tend be simple. What works for me may not work for others. To train my people, I started a community service project using social media and web based technologies to empower OFWs with tools… Read more »
libertas
Guest
Thank you. You represent the next wave of micro-entrepreneurs. Every job counts and i am sure has been achieved by your passion, commitment, and hard work. Respect. And you underline the point that BPO is not simply about global corporates sucking up and underutilising university graduates. There are multiple business models/opportunities. Future inclusive growth will be helped from small focussed leading edge companies who develop and deliver innovative solutions/apps especially with a mobile focus, as you clearly recognise. The sad point about BPO which is not published/known is that 92% of the work is ‘exported’/done for overseas clients, so the… Read more »
benign0
Admin

@Myrna, seems like you’ve plowed your overseas earnings into the right places — into contributing to the expansion of the nation’s capital base. I wish much of the rest of OFW remittances get spent the same way!

Robert Malit
Guest

Great accomplishment on a small scale!!! Imagine if we Filipinos can team up and do it in a grand scale. You are invited to join us http://www.freefilipinas.com/forums/topic/75/-/view/post_id/128

Myrna Padilla
Guest

@Robert Malit Sir, thank you for the kind words. I visited your link. The concept is so interesting. Particularly the part about OFWs. However, the “About Us” section of your site does not provide the visitor with the info needed about the people behind your project to allow us to do our due diligence.

joeld
Guest

Now if only the government had that in them, we wouldn’t be having lack of jobs in the Philippines, would we? And I mean that not only with BPO jobs. Still, I don’t want to be negative, but 800,000 in a span of few years still cannot meet the annual number of graduates.

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/18/life-after-graduation/

Don’t get me wrong, I salute you, Myrna, but I just do not see that the government gives a hoot about our children’s future.

Myrna Padilla
Guest

@joeld I agree with you about the government. Sadly, we the People are the government. We have just made some very bad choices about who we have chosen to represent us.

ChinoF
Member

Nice work. This is how to do it right.

libertas
Guest
There is an interesting relationship between the 2 largest contributors to economy Ofw – people go abroad to work Call centers/bpo – work from abroad comes here Generalisation is dangerous but ofw opportunities have given literally millions of less educated people the chance to earn abroad, but at a high social cost, especially since many are married/have children Call centers/bpo have given high educated/univ graduates/nurses the chance to stay here but complain of monotony, degrees/education not being utilised, but enjoy the money, ‘status’, and single life, which i think the majority are. Ofw’s – 10 million – all groups/levels (… Read more »
juu
Guest
I’m not an agent but I do work in a company with a support department and a sales department. 1) BPO companies don’t require support agents to have degrees and from a country with so many companies not willing to hire anyone who did not graduate from the big 3/4 universities, having a job that requires no degree at all will get you labelled such things. 2) Absolutely nothing. I used to have the same ideas about agents but I’ve learned to appreciate them once I started working with them. Support agents are the shield that protects us from unnecessary… Read more »
Kevin Leversee
Guest

Great discussions, well versed and thought out. I love stuff like this, now we need to start asking about local innovation and the investments BPO is putting into it.

SacreBleu
Guest
Why does anyone even ant to take one of these complete SHIT jobs? Whenever most people in the west call and get a Filipino on the line, they know it is a filipino and know that nothing that is of any concern to their call will be resolved. The filippine call center job is just a way for western corporations to save money and get the message out to customers to stop complaining because nothing is going to be done about your problem when you call the 800#. A dead-end job that has moved out of India to the filippines… Read more »
Hyden Toro
Guest
Call center industry is worldwide. Especially for English speaking Third World countries, like us…India is one of them. People in India speaks the British English. And, most of their call center personnel are college graduate also. Industries in industrialized countries need to cut their cost in advertising ; in technical support; or plainly , in having an operator to answer every customer call. So, they outsourced this job to third world countries. Whatever way, your company can cut your operating cost: you have to do it… Anyway, they are now researching on a Robot Android, to take the place of… Read more »
libertas
Guest

An insight written by a call center agent

http://m.inquirer.net/opinion/?id=59819

Stress, illness, bad management, dreams of another job, but good money.

libertas
Guest
The over riding risk is an overconcentration on low margin voice rather than added value data (e.g any move to bundled services/new pricing models in other countries could have an adverse impact – data rules in the corporate it world) Acting as a labour pool sub contractor to, and strategically dependent upon global US outsource providers (who in turn are servicing major US corporates), and are not interested in new markets, smaller companies, rather than building wholly owned home-grown companies.(e.g the anti-outsourcing bill in US – defeated last year but due to be re-introduced) Dumbing down the best educated available… Read more »
libertas
Guest

All eggs (voice) in one basket (US global outsource providers) which is being carried by corporate america

Corporate america has no contract with the philippines, and only an allegiance to its own bottom line/shareholders

i would imagine all the contracts for the provision of service to the end customer ( e.g ford motors), are negotiated with and signed by the US operation ( e.g accenture chicago, not accenture philippines/manila. Makes a big difference. It also indicates who is running the show.

Hyden Toro
Guest
@libertas: Good comment… You are a very knowledgeable Dude…U.S. and other industrialized countries, outsourced jobs; where there are no job takers in their countries. The reason Mexicans and South Americans climb over the fence in the American – Mexican borders, is to find jobs in the U.S. Jobs like: farm labor, low menial labor, unskilled construction works, etc…low pay because , they are undocumented aliens…they are also subject to being overworked and abuse. Sounds like the OFWs. Companies will always find ways to cut cost, and increase their profits. They are not charitable institutions… Lack of Philippine government planning is… Read more »
libertas
Guest
Thought i would end my input on this subject, which i have enjoyed – kudos and respect to fallen angel – on a positive/practical note by brainstorming a few ideas ( no particular order) – am sure many are in hand – the big US companies know exactly what they are doing, but excluding them since they dont run the country and could ‘relocate/redirect’ business/traffic at the flick of a switch to another country, -but ideas generate ideas, change enables improvement, progress means prosperity. Ideas brainstorm Modular mba/professional qualifications developed for part-time study for bpo staff to develop skills over… Read more »
libertas
Guest

The international association of outsourcing professionals ( iaop) is the key industry network group. Active country groups in 40 countries from us, uk, india, brazil, vietnam, australia… but NOT philippines.
Island mentality and american subservience/dependence is too ingrained.
‘hi joe, give me money’.
Clearly knowledge is of no value.
now i understand, and despair.
end of story.

libertas
Guest

The ‘brain drain’ is the term used when educated people went abroad and their talent was lost to the country, but still beneficial for the individual. Lose-win

Now the philippines has found a lazy way to lose talent without them even needing to leave the country – ‘the drained brain’.
Educated people being digitally demotivated from abroad via technology. Lose-lose
Only in the philippines!!

krokodil
Guest
I had been at the forefront when changes in the US health care insurance industry were taking place in the early 90’s. They have been the engine that sparked customer service outsourcing as a means to cut cost on the expanding employee wages, benefits and retirements. When their programs like employee telecommuting and other cost cutting measures failed to meet their goal, outsourcing became reality. Soon, banking and credit card companies were quick to follow. The move to the Philippines and India became reality when one big US insurers move to Nova Scotia, Canada showed little success on savings but… Read more »
libertas
Guest
“Robotics is total nonsense.” – tell that to IBM. There are a host of new services and emerging solutions coming to the market. Robotics and advanced IVR are just a couple of examples. Corporates are looking to multi-channel marketing in the future, but guess you already know that, and the impact it will have. I also assume you know what Watson is, and how IBM are repositioning that technology and leveraging on its success/potential. Enterprise wide platforms are changing as are ways of servicing customers. “IBM puts supercomputer Watson to work in ROBOT CALL CENTRE “Manoj Saxena, general manager of… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest

“Robotics is total nonsense.”

krokodil,

Apparently, you are still stuck in the 1950s. Automation technology and robotics has made significant strides in the last decade alone. And not just in the industry-specific scope mentioned by libertas.

krokodil
Guest
@Johnny Saint and @Libertas There is no question that robotics will take over most human functions as technological advances will change the way humans will live in the future. Presently however, robots basic functions are limited to mostly heavy and difficult repetitive tasks that replaces human effort which endangers human safety. Robotic technology have not reach a point where it can take over human activity like a cyborg or artificial life intelligence. IBM’s Watson for instance is being programmed to assist physicians in the areas of medical science. I’m sure it will be programmed for space technology as well. There… Read more »
libertas
Guest

Starting in england this september, all children from the age of 5 will be taught it/mobile/social app skills within the school curriculum, and from age 11 move on to ict/mobile design and practical applications.
” such skills are now as basic as reading and writing, and critical to equipping the next generation….”

Competitive and comparative advantage will go to those countries who invest in education. The rest will have a difficult time, even getting good jobs abroad as the gap will become too great for the laggards.

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Guest

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with the option of online ordering for the restaurant
in California.

minecraft pe download
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