The Philippines aims to maintain its footing as one of the world’s best outsourcing destinations, and sustaining this momentum is the biggest challenge.
The Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has had its fair share of both challenges and opportunities since the first call center in the country was established. In fact, the outsourcing sector rose as its knight in shining armor amid economic declines surrounding the region.
One of its very first challenges was grooming qualified professionals who can thrive in a fast-paced work environment. Thus, government bodies came up with training programs to groom its graduates and then established the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to attract foreign investors. By putting a spotlight on these opportunities and addressing barriers, outsourcing companies in the Philippines collectively built a globally recognized legacy.
Making affordability its unique selling point, Philippine call centers have whizzed past their competitors in other locations. However, as the needs of international clients rapidly evolve, the customer service industry is now facing new challenges.
The country must again pool all available resources and implement new strategies to win over these impending setbacks.
1. Creating knowledge-based jobs
In its recent report, the World Bank commended the Philippines for “high-entry rates and few regulatory barriers to competition” but urged the country to step up its game by fortifying the knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) sector. Between 2012 and 2013, KPO grew by a measly 18%. It goes without saying that the country could gain massive profits if it invests on widening the skill set of its workforce and fixing the job–skill mismatch that’s becoming increasingly common in the BPO industry.
2. Leveraging multiple platforms
Juggling multiple channels is a challenge not unique to the Philippine BPO setting. Everywhere in the world, call centers are struggling to hit the delicate balance between offering various modes of customer service and maintaining the quality of their performance across these platforms. Call center managers in the Philippines need to understand the characteristics of a new-age consumer and how they interact with multiple devices. But it’s not an easy task, as the customers they cater to hail from different parts of the world.
3. Building new BPO hubs
Metro Manila, Philippines’ central region for business, is also the flagship area for the country’s outsourcing sector. In the past decade however, the Department of Science and Technology started grooming other cities in the country as BPO hubs. So far their efforts are producing great results, as seven other locations have been included in the list of top 100 outsourcing locations in the world.
Keeping up this momentum is the biggest challenge. These blossoming hubs must ensure that they can
1) produce a sufficient number of qualified professionals,
2) continuously improve their IT infrastructure,
3) ensure safety and security, and
4) adhere to world-class standards.
4. Minimizing attrition
In February last year, reports stated that the attrition rate among Philippine call centers has dipped to an all-time low of 20%—a considerable improvement over the previous years. Compared with the 24% attrition rate in 2012 and 26% in 2013, it’s a noteworthy change. Vangie Daquilanea of Towers Watson Philippines cited better talent acquisition techniques as the reason behind reduced resignations, but higher salaries may also be persuading agents to stay at their jobs.
Still, if we look at the bigger picture, a one-in-five employee churn rate is a massive loss. Outsourcing companies must step up their employee retention programs by creating in-house career paths and providing professionals an environment where they’re encouraged to keep learning.