by Arthur Kevin Rabago

Contact centers initially emerged in the Philippines as a major provider of front- and back-office support such as voice, e-mail, order processing, shared services and many more to global businesses. They provide outsourced services ranging from telemarketing, travel services, technical support, education, customer care, financial services, and online business to customer support (B2C) and online business to business support (B2B).

Call center on steady course
The industry first emerged in the Philippines in 1997. Since then, it has grown into a $13 billion industry in 2010 with no signs of slowing down.

The Philippine government has tagged the call center industry as the “Sunshine Industry” because of its massive expansion over the last 10 years. It is considered one of the fastest growing sectors within the economy. Call center companies require candidates who are extremely fluent in English, and (for technical accounts) possess excellent IT skills – which are quite abundant in the country.

The Philippines was in the spotlight in 2000 when the “Love Bug” e-mail virus wreaked havoc globally, infecting millions of computers that year. Reports said the virus may have originated in the Philippines.

The incident had a positive aftermath. It eventually earned the country a reputation as an emerging tech support hub for many companies including AOL, Sykes, Trend Micro, IBM, and Accenture. It also acted as a catalyst in the formation of local call centers and other outsourcing services.

Majority of call center facilities are located in first-tier cities Metro Manila and Cebu. Second- and third-tier cities are located in regional areas such as Bacolod City, Baguio City, Cagayan de Oro, Clark (Angeles City), Dagupan City, Davao City, Tacloban City, Dumaguete City, Lipa City, Iloilo City, Legazpi City, Iligan City and Urdaneta City.

The country has remained an outsourcing favorite among various countries abroad. More companies in the United States and Europe are coming to the Philippines to take advantage of the low cost yet high-quality call center and outsourcing services.

And there you have it, the history of Philippine call centers in a nutshell.