To begin with, let??™s start with the process of defining a call center, according to the industry definition:
???A call center is a place wherefrom calls/chats are made or received in high volume for the purpose of sales, marketing, customer service, telemarketing, technical support, or any other specialized business activity.???
If we analyze the above definition and as we proceed in this study, we will realize that there is much more than calling in call centers. It has emerged as a full-pledged industry in itself which provided employment to over 3% of working population of US in 1995 in more than 200,000 call centers operating throughout the country. For the Philippines this is just the beginning and we have a long way to go and better still, the Philippines is poised to have call centers not only serving her own territories but also catering to the needs of other developed countries such as America, Canada, and Australia.
Moreover, the International investment consultancy firm McKinsey & Company also predicts that the demand for outsourcing services will reach $180 billion in 2010, with the customer contact services, finance and accounting, and human resource sub-sectors taking up the biggest shares. When it comes to the trend in primary business requirements, experts are seeing a shift from cost-effectiveness to skills quality and competence. This development all the more strengthens the Philippines position as an emerging global leader in the BPO industry (BPAP 2006).
The BPO boom in the Philippines is currently led by demand for offshore call centers. The Philippines raked in offshore service generating revenues of $2.1 billion in 2006, placing third behind India and China and slightly ahead of Malaysia. Thats up 62% over the $1.3 billion it gained in 2004, and a huge increase from the start of the decade when the outsourcing industry in Manila employed just 2,400 people and the industry had revenues of merely $24 million. It is estimated that 200,000 people are working in 120 BPO (mostly Contact Centers) in the Philippines in 2006. Overall, Philippine BPO is forecast to earn US$11 billion and employing 900,000 people by the year 2010 (Shameen 2006).
The recent growth spurt in the outsourcing industry in the Philippines has been fueled not by traditional low-value-added call centers but more higher-end outsourcing such as legal services, Web design, medical transcription, software development, animation, and shared services. Though call centers still form the largest part of the sector, the Philippines has begun leveraging its creative design talent pool, its large pool of lawyers, and its professionals in accounting and finance (Shameen 2006).
In addition to this, the Philippines is slowly but steadily becoming the preferred global destination for companies to outsource their back office/contact center operations because of the following apparent advantages:
1. Availability of well-educated, English-speaker manpower.
2. Low infrastructure and labor costs.
3. Stable political environment which makes the business investments safe.
4. Availability of high-bandwidth for data transfer via internet/satellite telephony.
5. Thrust of government on service industries.
6. Favorable time difference with the developed economies.
Among the six, notice that knowledge of the English language has always been the first requirement for a soon-to-be call center agent. Most call center establishments in our country cater to customers from different parts of the globe. Seeing that Filipinos are good communicators of English, many international companies opt to hire us in their contact centers because they know that we can readily give assistance and answer their customers??™ inquiries nearly like a native-speaker does.
More often than not, the efficiency of an agent??™s performance is based on customer??™s satisfaction. His knowledge of the product, being a computer literate, and the like are secondary. Hence, one should really have an excellent written/oral skills to give out a satisfying output. Sometimes, agents who want to impress their customers would make use of odd words or even odd word orders which only results to confusion and misunderstanding making the communication harder. In addition to this, lot of us, Filipinos, do not make wise choice of words when we talk. Thus, we don??™t realize that a lot of Filipinisms are used in our daily language most especially when we speak in English. With a call center agent??™s case, he may sometimes fail to deliver the right message due to carelessness.