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: and]


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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@ FA, nice challenge.

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

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 »
Jon Limjap
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 »

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.

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
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
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 »
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

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.

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
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 »

An insight written by a call center agent

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

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 »

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.


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!!

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 »

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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