The Philippines has overtaken India as the world’s leading offshore destination for call centers. Despite its expertise in information technology, India is losing out on about 70% of call center business to the Philippines and other competitors in Eastern Europe.
According to experts, the Philippines is poised to generate as much as $25 billion in the coming year, buoying the economy and giving alternatives to Filipinos who feel the need to work abroad to earn substantial salaries.
There are many factors that may have contributed to the exponential growth of the local call center industry. The industry’s success can be attributed to the following strengths of the Filipino work force:
1. Fluency in English
With English as the primary medium of instruction at schools, Filipinos can comfortably read and speak the language. The country is the third largest English-speaking nation in the world, next to the United States and the United Kingdom. It also has a high literacy rate of 97.5%.
2. Neutral accent
Perhaps the biggest advantage that Filipino call center agents have over their Indian counterparts is their ability to speak English with no discernible accent. Customers based in the US find it easier to understand Filipino agents who speak with this neutral accent, and some of them might not even realize that they’re speaking to someone who’s on the other side of the globe.
3. Strong work ethic
Rain or shine, Filipino agents show up for work. They are highly committed to their jobs, performing well and meeting targets on a consistent basis. They are amenable to adjusting to the client’s time zone, working the graveyard shift to be able to accomodate their business requirements. Some of them even work rotating shifts to be able to attend to multiple accounts, or to attend to the changing needs of the client.
4. Exposure to popular Western culture
Filipinos’ exposure to popular culture in the U.S. and Europe, as well as their consumption of Western media through TV shows, films, songs and books, makes it easier for them to relate to foreign customers. It also helps them understand the nuances of the English language and how it is spoken in casual conversation or various contexts.
5. Natural inclination towards customer service
Filipinos are generally accomodating and helpful. As with most Asian countries, politeness and deference to others are important values. This makes them naturally inclined to customer service.
6. Governmental support
The government has extended its support to the local call center industry by way of subsidies to foreign investors, as well as tax benefits. Both the public and private sector have made provisions for outsourcing hubs throughout the country.