The exponential growth of the call center industry in the Philippines is nothing short of spectacular. Thanks to the country’s strengths – educated workforce, quality labor, competencies, cost, and location – it has become the world’s mecca for voice-enabled services, where answering services, order taking, technical support, and customer service of businesses are handled.

The Philippines remains a great choice since it is a country that has been steeped in Western culture, particularly the United States. On a typical day, an American caller talks to a supposedly native English speaker, who turns out to be someone from another part of the world. Americans cannot tell the difference these days because they speak with a Filipino telephone representative whose accent and communication skills are on par with a professional onshore. US-based businesses are also citing the capital cost reduction, but cannot emphasize enough the high level of attention, care and hospitality of these “Americanized” professionals. This makes the outsourcing industry a success story: Customer service managed with the highest level of professionalism and efficiency – at a fraction of the cost.

Top industry officials, however, say that the move to hire Filipinos is not merely about lower wages. They say that Filipino agents are worth the extra cost because American customers find them easy to understand, not to mention very engaging even during an actual conversation. It also helps that they learn the American culture early on in life, coupled by years of education in high school and college, where English is the primary medium of instruction.

Getting better
The call center story did not start here. The offshoring of call centers rose a few years ago and started big in India, which employed as many as 350,000 call center agents. But latest statistics show that there are more than 400,000 Philippine-based phone agents who are working nights talking to mostly American consumers. Now seeing the value and the expertise of an offshore call center, businesses from other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, UK, and Europe have outsourced their customer service operations to the Philippines.

This year, the Philippines overtook India in terms of expansion and revenues. The financial rewards of outsourcing to a call center in the Philippines have been benefiting even small and midsize enterprises as the call center business continues to grow as much as 30% a year, compared to 10-15% per year in India. Executives are expecting the country to rise not only in its reputable call center expertise but also in back-office services like legal processing, animation, data entry, software engineering and accounting.