Philippines call centers and labor costs

Philippines call centers and labor costs

Speaking of reasons for the current buoyant state of the Filipino call center market, Teleserv's Raffy David explained the benefits of low labor costs. He said that his company now had the leeway to devote capital to new technologies – something they had been investing in for the best part of a decade in any case.

Apparently someone manning the phonelines at his organization earns around $4,800 per annum, so a substantial portion of the money saved in paying operator salaries can be ploughed directly into investing in the new technologies that are all geared towards improving the customer experience. He underlined this attitude: ‘It's all about enhancing the customer's experience. We want to give them a fast, efficient and highly personalised service.'

Another interesting point to note is the fact that Teleserv staff do a lot more than simply manning phone lines – even if these are frequently queuing with eager caller queries. Call centers are now dealing with increasingly frequent levels of enquiry that arrive via email. To deal with this phenomenon, call centers are now developing systems hat allow emails to be filtered. In this way, common subjects can be batched together, which enable any one agent to deal with multiple enquiries efficiently.

An all-pervasive aspect of 21st century mass communication is, of course, social media, and this too has had a significant effect on call center traffic. Because more and more customers are taking the opportunity to make direct content via Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, the call center organizations have had to respond to enable them to meet this increasing need.

At Teleserv, another innovation is a system that brackets all social media into one easily manageable folder. All staff can have instant access to enquiries coming into the center, no matter through which channel they actually arrive. Keeping on top of all this sometimes means that some outsourcing of responsibility is required. Teleserv employ third parties, such as Avaya, who have a proven track record in providing solutions to telecommunication issues.

Edgar Doctolero of Avaya Philippines stated that customer service had to step up to the plate when it came to dealing with the increasing demands of social media. ‘Especially now, with so many people using social media, businesses have to be very careful that their service is good. It's so easy for people to post opinions - either good or bad - on Facebook or Twitter, and their message can go viral really quickly. Imagine the impact that can have on a contact center?'

Philippines employment news

Philippines employment news

Hot topics in Manila just now include the trends affecting call center employment. For some time now the Philippines have been at the epicenter of a technological revolution when it comes to satisfying customer demand by imposing a layer of dedicated help staff. However, analysts are commenting on the increasing evidence of a seismic shift in this sector of the labor market.

The voice-based services that have been the mainstay of call centers in Manila and elsewhere in this part of the far East are being replaced. The paradox is, that although this evolution in the ways call centers deal with customer demand is aimed at providing greater customer satisfaction at a cheaper rate, it will require more staff training, and increased investment in the appropriate hardware.

Head of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, Jojo Uligan, underlined what the new, holistic approach to customer services, or ‘business process outsourcing' (BPO), would mean for the future of the Philippines technology-driven workforce. His projections indicate that the nation is set to more than double its number of BPO employees, rising to around 1.3 million by 2016. This represents a climb of over 100%.

Uligan has been working with the Manila government to ensure that the Philippines' often fragile infrastructure is robust enough to absorb such an acute expansion. The fact is that the shift from voice-based technologies to a more generic approach, which would through a host of services into the mix – including accounting and human resources – is happening all over. While Manila and Cebu are certainly the traditional hubs for call center activity, the same factors are having an impact throughout the country.

Philippines has a relatively high unemployment rate, and call center jobs are particularly sought-after because they are continually in demand, and are also considered to be amongst the better-paid for workers at the lower end of the specialized skill scale. The Filipino government recognizes this, and is therefore offering extra incentives to BPO's who are considering setting up here, such as fast-tracked working permits, tax breaks and other perks. Government officials also published the ‘Philippine Digital Strategy' last year, specifically aimed at promoting the benefits of modern communication networks.

The benefits of harnessing the potential of BPO's are there for all to see, and its gratifying to know the government are listening to the advice they have been receiving for some time. Because under-employment is an issue in these islands, the jobs that can be provided by BPO's are most welcome. The one thing employers will be keeping an eye out for is the fact that western governments, especially Barack Obama's administration in the USA, are becoming increasingly committed to reduce job outsourcing and bring jobs back to local employers. So while the emphasis must be on providing value for money, this can't be done at the expense of excellent service.

Relationships and technology

Relationships and technology

One of the driving forces of technology in the modern age has been in interpersonal relationships. Social media has had a massive impact on rendering the internet an interactive tool. Technological advancements have had one eye on commercial aspects for a long time, while the other has increasingly focused on making communication ever more streamlined. This has really benefited those who would previously have relied on the cumbersome procedure of sticking hopeful adverts in the ‘lonely hearts' pages of their local newspaper.

Technology has opened up a universe of possibilities for dating in the Philippines and beyond. The advent of slick, instant but, crucially, completely anonymous means of sending messages has meant that there can be few excuses for not wanting to embrace social media.

Instead of sending love letters, singletons or, indeed, not-necessarily singletons, still rely on the power of the written word, only how their thoughts are transmitted has entered a whole new dimension. Some lament that the accessibility of dating websites that allow potential partners to cut to the chase, has effectively muscled romance out of the picture. For those with no interest in a relationship beyond the casual fling, going online presents so many possibilities for embracing the ‘no strings attached' arena. However, this is balanced in the websites catering for individuals genuinely looking to go through the motions of being introduced to ideal partners.

The internet has shrunk the world considerably. Where people once had pen-pals, now they can have full-blown relationships with people living on the other side of the globe, the webcam providing an instant entrance point into their world. There is something so much more exciting about having such a degree of choice at your fingertips, of having literally thousands of websites and apps to sift through as opposed to a couple of newspaper columns of singletons exclusively in your vicinity.

For every detractor remaining unconvinced about the likelihood of online dating ever rising above a matchmaking service for people looking for a quick route to casual sex, there are people who not only meet their soul-mates, but end up marrying. The fact that websites allow users to spend a long time getting to know one another through email exchanges, and then Skype calls or web chats means that it is possible to get a far better idea of the characters, good points (and not-so-good points) of the person at the other end of your texts. Composing emails also gives the writer a sense of making sure that they come across as genuine. There is greater editorial control, rather than conversation, where it can be far easier to put your proverbial foot in it!

Results of mobile device user survey

Results of mobile device user survey

McAfee recently undertook an extensive survey of mobile device users' habits. Given that the number of users in the Philippines, and the Far East in general, is rising all the time, these figures make for interesting reading for a variety of reasons.

Device protection

The survey revealed that more men than women chose to protect their devices (the figures were 74% compared to 65%). This desire to ensure the content of their phones were screened from prying eyes gave rise to two-thirds stating they had considered investing in ‘biometric' security, such as face, voice or fingerprint recognition software.

Post-relationship issues

The survey revealed that 96% of adults admitted they trusted their partners with intimate content or classified information, yet this figure slumped to 32% for those asked who stated they would ask a partner to delete this material after a relationship had finished. Many couples also committed the cardinal error of sharing passwords. Around half of the respondents admitted that they shared mobile phone contents, while as many as 48% shared email accounts.

Another telling statistic that emerged from the survey was the fact that 25% admitted to having checked out their partner's mobile devices in order to look at messages or photos. A fifth said that they would be likely to use their partner's Facebook login details to check out messages and posts, and to perform this activity at least once a month. When it came to admitting stalking ex partners through social media, although the figure dropped, there was still a relatively high proportion (30%) who were undertaking this form of ‘online voyeurism'. By far the highest numbers who were taking part in this somewhat questionable activity fell into the 18 to 24 year old category.

Online affection

While this survey demonstrated significant figures for people involved in what could be termed ‘anti social relationship activities', such as stalking or disseminating private information, it was pleasing to note high returns for those who were, statistically speaking, very romantic! 91% of those taking part in the survey said that they would be using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to celebrate Valentine's Day. 76% stated that the intended to post direct messages to others, while 58% admitted that they would be sending photographs. The gender balance between men and women celebrating their love through social media every February 14 was 72% versus 80%.