The Filipino call center and BPO industries need to learn how to demonstrate value

Sales-People-Talk-Too-MuchAs expected, I ignited a small firestorm with the Filipino call center and business process outsourcing (BPO) communities with my previous article “Why the outrage over the call center agent ‘slur’ in ‘The Borrowed Wife’ fails to move me” (henceforth known as “Outrage”). Of course, I wish I could have provoked a more substantive reaction. Maybe it’s because most of them were asleep or at work by the time I published that article. Maybe it didn’t coincide with the rest day of many. No matter.

A fundamental question underlying one of the points I wanted to make there, remains unanswered:

Why is there a portion of the call center and BPO communities that is more concerned with its image at the micro/individual level than with the issues that its industry faces at the macro/collective level?

The experiences at the micro/individual level will differ greatly from person to person. The number of people who agreed with my views about the general image of call center and BPO industries in “Outrage” is comparable to those who took issue with them. Taken at the macro level, however, the issue of image becomes less relevant when compared to the macro/collective level issues highlighted, for the sole reason that those issues will affect the entire industry, regardless of whether you are hypersensitive about your image or not. Thus, the focus should shift to those issues instead of being overly concerned about how your community is being perceived by other people.

The comments left in “Outrage” may or may not be representative of the views of the majority of the call center and BPO industries. It doesn’t really matter; what does is that such sentiment exists to begin with.

If there’s anything that can be derived from that subsection, it seems that certain pockets of the call center and BPO industries are better at whining about their negative image than they are about demonstrating their value.

GRP commentator libertas, in his usual insightful form, highlighted in several comments in “Outrage” certain issues that the call center and BPO industries, as early as this time, need to think about and be prepared to inevitably face in the future:

Excerpt from comment # 1:

Cloud computing, mobile apps development, and VPN’s (virtual private networks) are changing the structures of businesses and with more virtual/networked organisations, atomised profit centres etc. then the BPO industry must understand the drivers and start being ahead of the game and be problem solvers, ideas generators – and that is where there is a real skills gap in the philippines, along with archaic management styles.

Excerpt from comment # 2:

Some call centre providers talk of only 1% making the grade in terms of English language. The obvious danger is that smaller companies reduce quality if personnel, service levels decline, customers are unhappy, a bad reputation is created, new business doesn’t come, established customers transfer elsewhere.

Quality Assurance benchmarking and new techniques in language training are not being widely utilised. The emphasis is still too much on grammar and accent neutralisation which is not as critical as customer cultural understanding and the total customer experience, which demands greater interpersonal skills.

Excerpt from comment # 3:

Companies, processes, and the nature of work are in constant change particularly as transformational structures and leadership models are established and as core processes are integrated on increasingly seamless global platforms able to rapidly adapt to new customers and changing patterns of demand. Rapid and flexible response is today’s corporate mantra.

Call centres/bpo are an important cog in the wheel, but what the Philippines and all aspiring service providers must remember is that the future winners will be those who spot the trends, rapidly adapt, and come up with creative solutions which add value.

The danger is that the Philippines is demand driven and not in itself innovating or creating home grown benefits simply implementing what others have developed and which demands high level input/expertise from overseas to project plan implement and oversee.

I suggest taking the time to read these comments through; they are not really that long. Can the call center and BPO industries categorically say that he does not know what he’s talking about, just because he doesn’t necessarily coddle their need for a positive image?

Let’s go back to the concept of demonstrating value. When we talk about value, it’s not merely the financial contribution that the call center and BPO industries make to prop up the Philippine economy, nor is it merely the cost savings that the mother companies could realize due to the Philippines being a relatively low-cost country. We are talking about even deeper, even more intangible questions that any job seeker, and especially potential investor will ask. Examples (a non-exhaustive list) below:

Why should I enter the call center and BPO industry in the Philippines?

What are the prospects for job growth/job enrichment/job enlargement in this industry?

How adaptable will the Philippines be with regards to changing trends in technology, customer service, et al.?

What will keep my company here in the Philippines even if other cheaper, more investment-friendly destinations start sprouting in other locations?

I realize, of course, that the call center and BPO industries will not need to think about these questions for some time, given that they have a very large labor pool to choose from. What this means is that these industries are not begging for people to work for them; they are being sought after. But I digress.

For industry insiders, let me pose a simple question:

Why is it that when one refers to call centers and BPO’s in the Philippines, customer service representatives (CSR’s) and technical support representatives (TSR’s) come to mind more often than back-office support and analytics?

Doesn’t anybody wonder, for example, why India is a BPO giant despite their reputation with Filipinos for incomprehensible English? It’s because they’ve demonstrated great proficiency with technical and technological processes in spite of it.

Referring to libertas’ comments again, he implies a rather ominous prospect:

Eventually, call centers are going to be a thing of the past.

I will put this in the vernacular for more people to understand: Balang araw, malalaos at mawawala din ang mga call center sa Pilipinas.

The challenge, therefore, for the call center and BPO industries in the Philippines, is to show that they have more to offer to the global outsourcing trend than just good (but deteriorating) English, familiarity with American culture, their friendly and maaruga nature which they extol as a virtue, and a cheap and abundant labor pool.

These industries need to adapt to rapidly changing technological and business trends. Filipinos need to build up their knowledge base instead of merely following and memorizing a script.

Is the Philippines ready for change? Or rather, is it able? That is the question that has been asked of Filipino society countless times. The answer has been disappointing more times than I can count.

It’s time for the call center and BPO industries to stop whining about their negative image and develop their value proposition. Losers always whine about their best, the winners go home and f*ck the prom queen – or so that line from “The Rock” goes.

[Photo courtesy: Sterling Chase]

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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.

44 Comments on “The Filipino call center and BPO industries need to learn how to demonstrate value”

  1. btw, it’s not the industry whining. it’s employees who aren’t speaking in behalf of the whole industry.

    though, i agree. we all need to adapt to changes.

    1. Yeah, I get you. “Certain pockets.” Unfortunately, those few employees aren’t exactly going to do wonders for the reputation of the rest of the industry. There inevitably will be people who will generalize the whole BPO industry based on those few “whiners”

  2. hmm, have the writer worked in the call center industry? or have friends in the field? I have worked in an office with call center operation I don’t think anything there is outdated. In fact they use pretty sophisticated technology. There is room for improvement though on the spoken english skills of the agents. Seems the demand has pressured these companies to just hire anybody. Still no reason to degrade them. These pretentious people just have no idea, They think working for a tv network makes them better. Give me a break.

    1. I’ve been there. The technology and equipment being used on the operations floor per se isn’t really the issue. It’s how the BPO industry is adapting to changes in the global outsourcing trends. Like I said, call centers may not be around forever. Anticipating that, if the Philippines insists that – apart from mainly very good English-speaking service reps, cheap labor, and familiarity with Western culture – it doesn’t need to develop other competencies, then sooner or later it may find itself passed by as an outsourcing destination.

      1. there are now millions of chinese babies that will be reared in english at schools while watching friends and house of cards at home. THE next generation of CHEAPER, OUTSOURCED “Call Center Agents” Paano na PINAS?? #Failippines

  3. I am pleased you continued the discussion and chose to pose a very pertinent question, which impacts the national economy, and which also ultimately determines the individuals own future/job security, and i am interested to learn from industry insiders of their perspectives and agenda for change/improvement for the sector as a whole.

    A golden opportunity for those vociferous commenters to now display their ability to rationalise, analyse, communicate, and contribute in a constructive manner, educate a wider audience, and project a professional image.

    Creative input, or silence!

  4. Robots are replacing workers in many industries; 50% of the commercial and political messages we are getting in the US are now “robo calls.” Pilots are being replaced by drones. Cars will soon be automated; replacing truck drivers and taxi drivers. Businesses are more productive, requiring fewer workers. All of this at a time of mushrooming population growth. In the future, fewer will be working and each worker will be required to support more and more non-workers. It is not a pretty picture.

  5. “Why is there a portion of the call center and BPO communities that is more concerned with its image at the micro/individual level than with the issues that its industry faces at the macro/collective level?”

    Because filipinos inherently would only think small and only about themselves, enjoying the seemingly bountiful fruits of the BPO industry, and somehow majority of the individuals employed therein feel some sort of being “in a different league”, since they are now earning more than your ordinary Juan or Pedro. A sense of self entitlement if you will. That is the “me, me, me” attitude at work there. Not about the bigger picture, not about the country’s economy, not even about their own industry’s future.

    And of course, typical filipino, makanti mo lang, would result in violent reactions, strengthening the fact that majority of the filipinos have low EQ.

  6. As a starter consider the name – Business Process Outsourcing.

    The philippines is interested in outsourcing and invariably often uses that shorthand descriptor. It is the current supply side.

    The corporate customer who pays the money and makes the decisions in a demand driven technology sector is interested in business processes, not outsourcing per se. Only in the business processes which make his customers happier, buy more, and preferably at the lowest marginal cost without jeopardising or alienating his customers.

    In 5+ years he could and would change to any new improved model if it met his criteria – Business Process Integration, or Customer Service Partnership model – a direct technology to technology link ( supplier and customer) which cuts out extraneous costs, 3rd party involvement and returns control to the business itself. No need for, or benefit from, BPO/call centers as currently defined. Businesses would have achieved a step along the spectrum of simplification, integration, elimination.

    Examples already exist – amazon, and fedex – which is a global goliath ( 600 of its own planes) technology intensive, and at the leading edge of innovative business thinking/practice. The clues are there.

    Fedex CEO Fred Smith’s philosophy is
    that the information about a package is as important as the package itself. In the past that focus was on getting information from suppliers, now it is about giving information to customers in real time ( their competitor UPS allows customers to change delivery date and location even after a package has been despatched/is en route – no people involved)

    “For us in the future it is not the things we do differently, it’s the things we don’t have to do at all,” Eric Keane, FedEx senior VP for operations IT
    “People, organization, processes, technology, platforms — everything that we were doing is being reset to zero.”

    Exciting times and with change comes opportunity for the forward thinking, fleet of foot but am sure the industry insiders know all that and are gearing up accordingly.

    It is not difficult to spot the emerging opportunities, gaps in the market, and what the customer wants in the future. The koreans seem to know. I hope the philippines do, and adapt rapidly.

    From the industrial revolution in the 1700’s through to assembly lines and work study in the 1920’s and the current development of artificial intelligence/quantum computing/robotics – the only constant is change itself – and the best approach for survival is adaptation not a luddite mentality. Jobs for life are history. Core skills – flexible and transferable – are the smart course for modern youth together with lifelong learning. If you are not up to date, don’t demonstrate passion and self-motivation then there will be plenty who do.

    There will inevitably be winners and losers , that is par for the course. Better to be a winner than a whiner.

  7. What the “outraged” call center agents might be doing is trying to salvage an image that actually has no glamor after all. Being a call center agent isn’t really glamorous. It’s just like being a clerk or accountant – you do a job. Of course, the call center agent job function isn’t easy, it’s difficult to do and is emotionally taxing. Some friends who have been call center agents warn against getting into it. But it isn’t really glamorous, and perhaps indeed there was no need for the outrage against a single character’s opinion (which was written in by the scriptwriter, so it’s the scriptwriter’s opinion).

    1. Very interesting especially as intel – worlds largest chip maker – has recently bought indisys, and its interactive voice recognition (IVR) systems are not future developments but already available. A real impact on call centers once the mighty intel reveal their plans on how they intend to apply/leverage the acquisition/technology

      Wall street journal (wsj) says of intel – “Share Price Could Double”

      A call to my broker i think.

      A brave new world beckons. As The Boy Scouts motto says ” Be Prepared”

    2. As i tried to indicate it is this particular technology – (IVR) – that is the greatest threat to traditional call centres, and when combined with the strategic business plans/thinking of the corporates, then a paradigm shift would occur.

      What makes the indisys development so interesting is that it works across multiple technology platforms, but much more dramatic it works with multiple languages

      A ‘ the tower of babel’ product has long been a pipe-dream in technological development, even just for text, let alone voice.

      For global companies internal communications becomes a real problem, an added cost, and a slow process. Most of us speak a number of languages these days but if you operate in 20, 50, or in my case 110 countries, people do not universally speak english and certainly not to a level where ideas/actions etc can be rapidly disseminated and fully understood.

      And certainly customers and suppliers will speak in the host country language.

      Videoconferencing with automatic language translation would be a game changing product and if incorporated into the chip itself then can be used on mobile, tablet, pc, even in cars ( e.g rental cars at airports, virtual concierge in hotel rooms) the list is long as i think about it.

      Now that i have waited a long time for and have seen early attempts in the research labs but nothing approaching market readiness, but maybe available at a phone company near you sooner than i thought.

      “May you live in interesting times”
      Chinese proverb

    3. Not to mention virtual assistants and other BPO tasks that people could do as freelancers. Work from home is still very popular, especially with the Internet helping it out. More people here will want that, since they don’t want to deal with traffic and the difficulties associated with an office environment. Some people from BPO would move to this setup, and this might lead to many leaving BPO companies.

  8. Researching indisys i found this extract on the call center industry illuminating

    “The call center is being relegated to a
    fallback position; customers try other options first and only place a call to a contact center when they really need to speak to a live person.
    This trend is reflected in the many studies
    conducted during the past year or two that have indicated that consumers, when presented with the choice, would prefer to use a mobile application on their smartphone than interact with a call center”

    My takeaway from the extract is that customer care via mobile will be a new growth market which hardly exists, if at all, currently.

    But the innovative call center providers will search for ways of utilising the trend, whilst others will cling to tradition and fight a losing battle against what the customer wants.

    Since many people will still want to speak to a human voice, or at least have the option, then the focus should be to explore ways to provide integrated benefits – ivr and mobile -, and add value by exploiting cross marketing opportunities.

    So as with any change some will search for opportunity, some will feel threatened. It is clear from which camp the winners will emerge.

    As in so many aspects of life, and business, the real task is to adopt a macro and micro mindset which is open, creative, inquisitive, innovative, dynamic, adaptable, and a culture which relishes competition.
    Good luck with that philippines!

  9. Honestly, I work for the call center industry and all I can say is the only thing going for them is they offer much better salary than anything else out there in this country.

    The fact remains though that the BPO industry is a glaring proof that graduating college with a piece of paper isn’t going to open doors anymore.

    Raging under-employment is the term.

    Our country is offering employment opportunities all right. Just not the right ones we’ve studied and graduate for in college.

    People may say that we at least have a job. I agree to a point. Unfortunately, the evidence speaks for itself. Get a piece of paper in college… work at the call center for the money.

    It isn’t necesarily a bad thing in all honesty but the situation is that the Philippine government seems to be treating the BPO industry like the future of the Philippines.

    It isn’t. It shows that the only value placed on the Filipino people is a small percent of what these companies would pay for should they hire the same set of people in their own country.

    Translation: CHEAP LABOR.

    1. The annual cost ( salary and overheads) of employing staff in london is as follows

      Secretary £40,000 pounds (2.8 mill pesos)
      Legal secretary £50,000 (3.5 mill pesos)
      Legal executives (non lawyers) £65,000 (4.5 mill pesos)
      Research analyst £80,000 (5.6 mill pesos)
      Lawyer £100,000 (7.0 mill pesos)

      Easy to see the cost benefits of outsourcing, especially when the sweat shop environment of strong targets/measurements are added – which should provide added productivity/output thereby lowering unit costs.

      For the call center operator in the philippines high returns/profits are almost guaranteed if he keeps the biggest cost item – labour – as low as possible.

      The salary listing also shows that the strategic companies, especially in india are adding value and moving up the ladder by targetting high end professional services – legal work, medical helplines, research and analysis etc which demands better staff at higher rates of pay. The philippines is trumpeting taking over from india as the worlds no.1 call centre destination. India most probably is smiling as it thinks – we want you to have the low level short term sector – we have moved on and up and are more interested in building long term partnerships with our customers through business integration. In other words india may have outsourced its second hand car to the philippines now that india has a brand new luxury car.

      The industry must move from the cheap labour model/proposition to benefits which certainly incorporate cost savings but focus just as much on productivity improvements and quality of service, and ensure personnel are appropriately rewarded – bonus/profit share etc.

      My concern is always that life and labour is cheap in the philippines so any downturn/failure to adapt and the governments economic heroes of today could be fending for themselves tomorrow.

    1. The challenge really is that what the writer here and the GRP people talking and writing about is a policy perspective, which, nobody or only half of it have been understood. Our country specially our government doesn’t have a clear perspective and goals regarding labor, business, and industry policy. Sad to say, few people within this sectors, and as cited here the BPO industry, realized this vacuum in policy. As of the previous article of the writer, the people in BPO industry are clueless about the future of the industry and typically in Filipino fashion, dwell on issues that are trivial and mundane.

  10. Bpo/kpo – philippines
    ( sorry v long – started typing and got carried away!)

    Some specific areas which i consider should be addressed, if not already in place to a suitably high standard.

    Vision

    To position the philippines as a one-stop shop and quality provider for Virtual Business Partnerships (VBP) – ( VBP’s dont exist – i made up the acronym – but it is meant to reflect being individual and forward thinking rather than copying and following what others do) it also embraces the sub-sectors call centers, BPO, KPO, Virtual Assistants, design houses etc.
    The philippines – your virtual business partner

    Mission

     Achieve economic benefits and develop job opportunities by exploiting existing knowledge and skills, & establish a solid and productive working partnership between government, business, academic institutions, and professional associations

     Develop new centers of excellence, new business opportunities, and promote micro-enterprises through a new culture and approach – competitive, dynamic, innovative, professional, and creative

     
    Refocus

    From abritage to innovation

    From cherry picking to orchard planting

    From call centers to business partnerships

    From ‘bums on seats’ to ‘brains in the cloud’

    Strategic

    – Constitutional economic provisions – essential to encourage long term investment and increase trust from foreign companies. The fraport fiasco and other contract flip-flopping created a loss of inyernational credibility.
    – Tax incentives – weighted to create a wider spread of call centers and particularly financial/resource support for homegrown start-ups in specialist fields e.g animation, data analytics
    – DICT – upgrade department – ? Bill languishing in congress. Clear policies and concrete plans to assist bpo sector
    – Marketing via country embassies/local business networks/national roadshows. Tandem marketing with dept of tourism to save costs in countries of common interest
    – specialist industry experts as speakers in international conferences. Most speakers are from uk, us and india ( who have rapidly learnt how to market tech services internationally) make people think the philippines have brains not just cheap labour

    Structure

    A more cohesive and creative umbrella professional organisation with an independent professional arm for education, standards, benchmarking, and marketing

    Staff

    Recruitment methods
    Psychometric testing
    Management training

    Systems

    Data security – a key issue for any customer, and hacking is notoriously easy in the philippines
    Disaster recovery – critical considering weather/natural risks. This also applies to telco’s ( globe/pldt etc)
    Cloud services – being developed but need more rapid implementation.

    Standards

    Technical
    Operational
    Investor in people (IIP)
    ISO ( international standards organisation)
    TQM
    Benchmarking
    Health & safety

    Services

    Cloud services
    VPN’s
    Legal
    Medical
    Research
    Animation
    Website
    Graphic design
    Printing/publishing
    Mobile apps
    Intelligent buildings
    ………

    develop new target markets – Foreign and domestic SME’s ( small, medium enterprises) – which have different needs and necessitate a different marketing approach

    Consider developing specialist language centers – spanish is the growth market hence the emergence of brazil and mexico. A one language option ( and often not at as good a level as people seem to think) is large but still limited

    Suppliers

    In house training

    Skills

    Skills transfer
    Train the trainer
    Microsoft proficiency
    Develop mobile app for english skills

    Scholarships

    Overseas training and experience

    Stakeholders

    Universities – use to undertake original research – good papers get global attention in the industry ( good for university and philippines) – write up case study ( also use as exercise in MBA programmes)
    Government – competition – best ide/business plan. Seed corn best for one year – free accomodation and use suppliers to provide equipment or surplus in govt. ( ricky caradangs dept have lots of laptops not being used)
    Trade associations

    Shared values

    Best practice
    Tqm
    Core culture ( e.g. open minded, self-learning, professionalism etc)

    Service levels

    Essential – design template for industry
    100% – zero defects!
    Dasboard analysis for KPI’s ( key performance indicators)

    Swot

    Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats ( brainstorm/ metaplan) – getting too long. Easy and more rewarding to do your own!

    Step

    Society, technology, environment, political – brainstorm/metaplan future trends/changes which could have positive/negative impacts on the business – use in conjunction with swot analysis.

    Summary
    Personnel in call centers/bpo’s etc are in an industry associated with intelligence, innovation and are change agents as working practices continue to evolve worldwide

    They are also part of a global industry where people thrive on challenges, are confident in their abilities, and regard criticism simply as a call to re-examine/adapt/improve

    If personnel in the philippines do not possess such qualities, or are over sensitive/defensive, then the industry is not for them, and by displaying such a lack of professionalism in public creates the impression of low level workers just doing the minimum without passion. The IT industry demands passion and commitment or it will spit you out.

    I doubt india was up in arms over the tv comedy series ‘outsourced’, and therein lies a big difference. Ask yourself why. In fact it was not a hit in US where it was made and aired, but the indians liked as the ny times reviewer found out. If set in manila, oh my god everyone would be persona non grata, discussion in congress! blah blah blah.

    “When a buffoonish American on the NBC show “Outsourced” warned his colleague not to eat the food in the Indian cafeteria or he would be on the toilet for five days, the roomful of indian workers watching the show erupted in guffaws.”
    New york times

  11. As both a recruiter and trainer-consultant for several different call centers, I agree that the language pro/deficiency problem is getting more and more evident. With a saturated job market, recruitment teams at this point are scraping the bottom of the barrel, and agents are hopping from one employer to another, just watching out for the next good signing bonus. And I’m the guy who has to screen and train them.

    For a country that benefits so much from the call center industry, the Philippine government has done shockingly little towards the long-term development of the industry, ie improving the educational system that is the first real training that call center employees get towards better communication skills.

    This also solves the critical thinking and analysis problem that so many call center agents have. In a recent trip to the US, I asked Americans who have come across Filipino agents about their experiences. General consensus is that Filipinos are relatively good at accents that most customers can be comfortable with, but the moment the problem is non-standard, or the agent has to start working off the script, communication breaks down.

    For the sake of not just the call center, but the Philippine workforce in general, we need to start building an educational system *and a culture* that teaches not only proper English, but also critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, and initiative– not the rote memorization of facts and figures to regurgitate in exams (read: “Sir, kasama ba yan sa test?”), not the passive absorption of information (“nakita ko sa Facebook”), but questioning thinkers that will TRY to figure out the problem, not just consult their tools for the next set of instructions to parrot back at their customers.

    1. “For a country that benefits so much from the call center industry, the Philippine government has done shockingly little towards the long-term development of the industry, ie improving the educational system that is the first real training that call center employees get towards better communication skills.” – True, even with the so-called “call center training” schools, proper education is still an important factor because these CC schools don’t really offer in terms of critical thinking to their candidates.

      It’s sad that people end up in a call center simply because they need to earn a hefty amount of money to survive than work in their respective fields that will make them earn mediocre to an average pay/month.

      It’s also sad that proper grammar/communication has degraded during the past few decades. Even adults are confused with the use of “you’re” and “your” in a simple sentence alone.

  12. Thanks for the interesting news about the call centres. Now the call centres are emerging field for employment as it serves the customer. This field only requires the fluency in different languages.

  13. Call centers are gainful employment & I think people should make the best of the opportunity. There are additional issues with employees such as maturity, interoffice afffairs, drinking, family problems that are brought to work. This costs the BPO more as they must pay In Touch org or some other to deal with issues that are not considered work issues elsewhere. For the employee the benefits are often good, use them. Indian nationals have an accent but their English & personality is wonderful to work with, their comprehension high. Filipinos have ok English, average comprehension and argue or are hurt if you correct them or want a word spelled for comprehension. It is almost cheaper to go to another country and train them in English than to deal with the other issues in the PH. But for now international agreements are in favor of it so I think those in the PH should enjoy it while they can. I worry the CC “training” places are just another way to take your money like “nursing jobs”, “cruise ship jobs”. Places like the US are already “insourcing” call center jobs & once the US/other nation education process catches up to the nursing demand that will also be gone. I think it is dangerous for the PH to continue to rely on being the source of labor for other nations.

    1. So what fake domo? It’s still not enough proof that the Japanese are not absolute asshurts like you inutil.

      Request for deletion please.

    2. Mukhang desperado na talaga kayong mga tangang troll ah. Gumagaya parin ng handle ng iba kahit na hindi naman maloloko ang mga admin dito sa mga katarantaduhan ninyo.

      Palibhasa kasi na mga ungas ang mga kinuha ng malacanang para lang mang gulo dito.

  14. It’s time for the call center and BPO industries to stop whining about their negative image and develop their value proposition. Losers always whine about their best, the winners go home and f*ck the prom queen – or so that line from “The Rock” goes.

    Hmmm. I don’t really know how to react to both your blog articles on the BPO industry. But let me try reacting: BTW I’m reacting to your article and not to that TV show (which i really couldn’t care less about).

    1. I started as an agent. Eventually I got several promotions leading to me becoming a manager for operations. 1200% salary hike in nine years. (for obvious reasons i won’t state how much i make here). I state this because I find it’s not a dead end job. Just saying.

    2. I get that a lot. The “look” that friends and relatives make when they find out I work in a BPO (or more commonly, i say “call center” because that’s what everyone understands more). it’s not glamorous because the glamorous people aren’t saying it’s a glamorous job (case in point that artista in that tv show which caused all this ruckus).

    3. I really don’t care about this negative image as a professional in the industry. I know for a fact a lot of people who were against BPOs have changed their outlook once they started working in a BPO and they’ve accepted the “looks” their parents and friends would give them. The only reason why I would worry about the image is during hiring. We seem to attract less and less qualified people. Luckily BPO training is relatively robust (you went through the training so you must agree with me there). So we’ll make do with the people who “try it out” and they become successful and most stay.

    4. There’s a lot of things within the industry we’re not allowed to share publicly (non disclosure clauses in contracts and all that) that would otherwise put lots of this “glamour and prestige” in the industry.

    5. And lastly, as far as value is concerned, boy do we provide value. we develop processes, streamline it, perfect it, innovate, etc etc for our clients. I’ve been a business leader in three companies now and this is what we do. Why do you think they’re (the foreign clients) all still here? 🙂 But this is something done quietly, and within the confines of a conference room. Maybe that’s the problem? We’re not noisy enough? We don’t go around harping on how fantastic our six sigma projects went. I see the “excellent value add!” email pop up every other week in fact. but we don’t really post it in facebook. we’d get into trouble for doing that. 🙂

    So yes. It may be a very different story from an agent perspective and from that of a manager’s perspective as far as BPO’s are concerned.

    If some local tv show says it’s for “stupid people”, eh, don’t care. The $$$ stream doesn’t come from them. but i can understand it if people feel insecure about working in a bpo.

    if you do work in a bpo, u must know by now that part of working in a bpo is the need to develop the new talent of not sweating the small stuff like this. we don’t need to be called “bagong bayanis” or some glorific catchphrase like that. really. focus on getting promoted instead. eyes on the prize.

    “The reason a lot of people do not recognise opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work” — Thomas Edison

  15. “Britain’s biggest mobile phone company, EE, is moving 1,000 jobs back to the UK from The Philippines after admitting customers grew frustrated with overseas call centres.

    Under EE’s plan it will pull all customer service staff out of the Philippines, where it opened its call centre in early 2011, although it will still have offices in India and South Africa.

    Mr Swantee said: ‘Previously people were calling six, seven, eight times to get issues resolved.”
    Daily mail 20 feb 2014

  16. India has a great sense of humour compared to the Philippines. The people I know have a healthy, self-deprecating attitude about the failings of their government and embrace like-minded criticism, rather than getting emotional and shutting down their brains.

    The idea that Filipinos could possibly look down on Indians from their position at the bottom of the heap is laughable.

      1. That article says little about the nature of the business processes being transferred to the Philippines. It also highlights the “competitive advantages” of the Philippines as a call center destination – “advantages” that can and will inevitably be replicated in other destinations, mind you.

        The BPO industry is more than just taking calls, I’m sure you know that.

        1. Yes! Totally agree with you, but I think this (the article I posted) gives a great argument to the comment posted by Dave above.

          The “advantages” can be replicated, yes, but as of the moment we can all say that the Philippines is the best call center destination. The moment other countries replicate the Filipinos, I’m pretty sure they’ll pick up on it and progress. I’d say that the Philippines is the front runner.

      2. Sir Moi Bagadiong ang mga high value services ay nasa India parin. Customer service at tech support pa lang ang nakocorner ng Pilipinas.

        Malabo pa na makaovertake tayo pagdating sa ITO, legal or medical. Nakakalungkot pero problema pa rin ang tamang skill set.

        Please bear in mind that we do not only need proper grammar and neutral accent. We also need to increase the number of our workforce who are proficient on the said field.

        Kindly take note that when it comes to high value jobs in the sector. Most investors bank on the technical skills rather the others. Since most of the time the interaction is B2B.

    1. So what are you trying to say? The sector will not grow further if majority of the people has the “pwede na yan” mentality like you.

  17. Hmmm, article was written 2 years ago. i wonder if this is still the same question you have in mind about the BPO industry today? Has it become a thing of the past? No innovation?

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