(Or “Why the Philippines is the country to watch”)
Last year, with more than 600,000 call centre workers, the Philippines officially overtook India as the world’s call centre capital.
If you phone up to book a flight, buy a theatre ticket or complain that water is cascading out of your washing machine, you’re now more likely to speak to a Filipino than an Indian.
The Philippines has a number of obvious advantages when it comes to call centres. Wages are low and most Filipinos speak English in an accent which, given the American colonial influence here, is easy for US customers to understand.
Filipinos also pride themselves on being approachable and friendly – a trait which is essential for speaking to strangers on the phone every day.
But its also high tech software that plays a big part.
But the Filipinos are ambitious. Going for Business Process Outsourcing
The Philippines may have more call centre agents, but India still has more BPO employees – and every year a great proportion of them work in the more lucrative and more skilled non-voice-based services.
Looking at the returns, it’s easy to see why the Philippines wants to follow India down this route. In 2010, India’s overall BPO revenue was $70bn, compared to just $9bn in the Philippines.
A move away from voice-based services will need more staff, more training and more hardware.
But Jojo Uligan, head of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, is bullish about the future.
His projections show the Philippines more than doubling its BPO employees by 2016 – from about 600,000 to 1.3 million people. Take this projection with a latge pinch of salt, Filipinos love to talk big. But the trend is right.