Article : The Philippine Connection
The decision to outsource your customer contact operations these days is a tricky business – rife with endless options and painstaking research. The U.S. contact center industry is currently undergoing significant changes in terms of how companies are choosing to deal with the challenges facing the industry.
These days it's becoming increasingly difficult to recruit good representatives (especially ones who want such jobs for any length of time), turnover is high, and there is consistent pressure to deliver high quality at lower and lower rates. The collective weight of these problems can be overwhelming for even the best operations in the industry. Thus, many outsourcers, as well as companies with their own internal contact centers, are expanding their operations oversees.
One option that that is getting greater deliberation these days is the Philippines. According to the Philippine Government Department of Trade and Industry, projections over the next three years have the number of call center seats growing from the current level of about 5,000 to 10,000, a doubling of size and a resulting labor force of over 24,000 agents. Behind India and the U.S., the Philippines is the world's third-largest English speaking country. And unlike India, it has an Americanized culture with a service orientation, multilingual workforce, and, best of all, eager college graduates who view the position of customer contact representative as a career opportunity versus a temporary job. The Philippines has more than 4 million college-educated workers between the ages of 20 and 25 who are available for employment. What's more, tens of thousands of graduates become part of the available workforce each year with engineering, computer sciences and other highly desirable degrees. These graduates are seeking career opportunities in customer contact centers, providing centers in the Philippines with an abundance of highly qualified human resources.
With real estate costs 15 to 20% below U.S. rates, and an abundance of space available, there is no limit to the growth potential. And with the reduced labor, facilities and communications costs, outsourcing rates are typically 20 - 40% below those offered for comparable U.S. programs. Furthermore, the quality of a Philippine call center can be better than in those found in the U.S. This cost reduction, combined with the fact that Philippine representatives are highly educated and interested in a contact center long-term career, create high quality, low cost alternatives to U.S. contact centers.
As anyone in the industry knows, these two concepts – higher quality at lower rates – have rarely existed side-by-side and make the Philippines an option worth exploring. In fact, companies are already capitalizing on the advantages of a Philippine-based operation. According to recent news reports, a number of Fortune 500 companies already use contact centers in the Philippines to service customers in the U.S. These include, American Express, America Online, Dell Computers, Sun Microsystems and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
So while a Philippine call center may not be the answer to everyone's problems, it is certainly worth a close look.
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Published: Monday, February 3, 2003