Tuesday, March 25

The Philippines - Leader in the Outsourcing

By Roberto Bacasong
Company Writer
Call Center in the Philippines

Proving that the Philippines is the best in the world when it comes to the outsourcing industry, three of its cities were identified as among the "Top 50 Emerging Outsourcing Cities" worldwide by the Global Services and Tholons.

Making it to the big wave are the cities of Cebu (No. 4) Pasay (23), and Baguio (36). Tholons said they evaluated the viability of existing and potential outsourcing destinations consists of a host of measurable and pre-determined metrics and variables that impact a location's services landscape.

In this city selection criteria, an exhaustive set of data points add up to a broad set of categories, which ultimately provide an aggregate city score. The selection process was based on scale and quality of workforce, business catalyst, financial, infrastructure, risk environment and quality of life.

It is highly recognized that the Filipino BPO city provides services such as customer services, technical support, help desk, data entry and processing, medical transcription, insurance processing, book keeping and accounting, legal, taxation and back-office transaction processing.

To date, 80,000 sq. meters are presently occupied by at least 17 BPO companies in Cebu. Office lease rates in the city on an average are $6.7 per sq. meter per month. Cebu City is also known as an education center. It has 68 public elementary schools, 23 national high schools and 28 night high schools. Literacy rate in the city stands at 97 percent. Many foreign students, mostly Iranians, Koreans and Nepalese, also come to this city to study since education is relatively cheaper. Infrastructure in the city is quite strong which include Cebu City's Mactan-Cebu International Airport has direct flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Qatar and South Korea.

The excellent quality of life (cost of living around 75 percent lower than the U.S.A.) in Cebu city translates into better quality of workers and low employee turnover.

The facilities found in Cebu can host enough contact centers making as prime destination of the contact center companies outside Metro Manila. The city can produce higher number of graduates and the place is friendly to investor.

Beth Lui, the Philippine Country Manager for Accenture, rationalized their expansion to Cebu City, a significantly smaller city yet equally capable labor force as compared to Manila. "Cebu alone is a small province. We will have to draw from the neighboring provinces as well. There is a need to create a hub of talent," says Ms. Lui.

In a separate development, Manila garnered as Top 5 Outsourcing Cities along with the cities of Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, all in India; and the city of Dublin in Ireland.

"We don't see these mature, well-established cities that have been servicing the global corporate world for over a decade, going away from the outsourcing map. But we do see them as Western companies' obvious choices for sourcing IT and BPO services," Tholons said.

The study cited that Metro Manila and Cebu City were among the top choices for contact center services as well as finance and accounting. Manila excelled mostly in legal services while Cebu City was recognized in human resources.*

Overcoming Call Center Stress

By Roberto Bacasong
Company Writer
Call Center in the Philippines
Unique Interaction

Working in a call center environment can be hurled with so much stress. Call center agents worldwide especially in the Philippines mostly complain this manic behavior which they encounter from their customers. If you ever worked in any call center, stress is always on top of their concerns on how to handle it on a daily basis. Customers, especially the Americans are very hard to deal with. They often display their rudeness to the agents, and unfortunately, racism is typically high.

According to the web, stress is defined as: constraining force or influence: as a: a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part; especially : the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch b: the deformation caused in a body by such a force c: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation d: a state resulting from a stress; especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium (job-related stress).

In another simple definition, stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat.

Many of us are suffering from stress. This can be triggered with a lot of factors in which our job related activity is one of the many causes of this psychological behavior. Call center agents both inbound and outbound services will encounter a lot of insulting comments from their customers. The agents are also berated and questioned their incapacity to give technical solutions demanded by the irate clients. Not contented, the foreign customers will say: "You Filipinos fu**!!", or, "You Filipinos suck!" This is the reality in the call center and beyond. Though call center employees in the Philippines are receiving attractive benefits, they are bombarded with heavy psychological problems especially stress.

The greater number of unhappy customers that the agents may receive in their 8-hour working period is considered stressful to them. Why? The agents may get tired of taking calls of thinking that the next customer might also have the same scenario with their previous customers.

Interestingly, stress can be given immediate attention in order not to make the situation worst. Many call center companies offer various solution to relieve their agents from stress caused by their angry customers. Facilities like fitness clinic, yoga, sporting room, entertainment room, and massages can help agents overcome stress.

In addition, there are certain reminders to the customer service people to fight stress in order not to affect their job. Handling stress properly can bring progress and change in the landscape of the outsourcing industry in the Philippines. The following tips can help you avoid stress:

* Smile and be happy.
* Don't take the bad comments personal.
* Don't involve in an argument.
* Try to fix the problem of the customers.
* Understand the root of the issue

Smile and be happy

Though you can't see the expression of your customers because of the basis of telephoning system, giving your best smile and happy with the job you have can help you make a difference. Call centers agents are trained to practice their good values and proper phone etiquette especially when talking to the customers. Greet them politely, and listen attentively to their concerns.

Don't take the bad comments personal

Although customers may sometime attack you too much, remember that they are disappointed to the products and not with you. The customers may need someone to fix the problem because they don't have the chance to speak in a face-to-face conversation. Most of them have been waiting on the line for almost 30 minutes to one hour which pissed them off. They may throw unnecessary words on you, but as soon as you help them, the situation will change from rough conversation to friendly approach. Being a call center agent, always have the patient in understanding the characteristics of each of the customers they encounter.

Don't involve in an argument

Never enter in an argument with your customer. Avoid giving your personal opinion telling your customers that they've done wrong many times. This will not help solve the customers' problem; instead this may be the start of having a bad argument which might affect the credentials of the agents. The customers may feel that they are ignorant because of the inappropriate and unfriendly approach. Always think of better response when talking to the customers all the time.

Try to fix the problem of the customers

It is better that when the agents listen to the problem of the customers. The agents must always ready to troubleshoot any inquiry that the customers ask. However, if the agents have a hard time in fixing the problem, they can ask their team leaders or their supervisors for the solution. But before doing that, the agents should ask permission to put them on hold for quick seconds. We are not perfect; we may have the skills in oral communication which needed in call center industry but lack of technical experience in other approaches. Many contact centers set up a separate department that specializes in troubleshooting. When the agents told the customers to call them back make sure that they need to do it in order to avoid disappointment from the customers.

Understand the root of the issue

Understanding the root of the issue will answer the problem of the customers. Don't be over reacted when the customers expressed their rudeness to the agents. Again, they are not directly mad at the agents but to the product itself. Let the customers talk and relay all the problems to the agents. In return, the agents should listen to it and take down some of the vital points related to the issue. The agent may politely say: "I empathize with you Sir. Don't worry 'coz I can help you fixing the problem..." Giving the hope that the problem will be fixed right away can avoid difficulty in arising the stressful situation.

These are few of the friendly tips that may help call center agents overcoming stress in their job. Call center is a unique industry giving a promising career to people worldwide.*

The 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' in Call Center

By Roberto Bacasong
Company Writer
Call Center in the Philippines
Unique Interaction

Call center is a terrific job. Many young professionals work in call center because of higher chances of boosting their career to the maximum level. Customers are expanding their channel in contact in which call centers are on top of the list. It is a challenge to every contact center to integrate strategic planning in order to maintain its presence towards the global trend in this industry.

Working in a call center is not only aiming to receive higher pay. There are dos and don'ts in order to set limitation to the workers. If you are one of the millions of people connected in customer service, you should know the guidelines to avoid committing violation. Call center companies always make sure to deliver efficient services to their clients worldwide as possible. Because call center is a promising industry, keeping the best employees and hiring more service representatives should always set part of expanding the business. Hiring the right people is very important. The call centers should provide ongoing training to the agents and employees; practice the transparency like communicating openly with the agents and managers, discovering the quality performance of the best people, investing to the state-of-the-art technology to increase customer satisfaction.

Any contact center should have a strong organization in achieving the long-term goal of the company. Making the call center dynamic and flexible can promote better output all the time. The call center management should always strengthen the relationship with the customer. Maintaining customer relationship is important above anything else.

There are many good things you can do to support the call center industry. Avoiding the don'ts in this industry can lessen the burden that may bring to the customers and the company you work for. The following are the don'ts that call center employees should do:

Avoid Tardiness

Time is precious. Never be late in your duty. Though you are one of the best agents in the company but with your constant tardiness will give you the honor to be recognized by your team leaders or supervisors. Also, you are not the asset of the company because call center is a fast paced regulated industry that time is important. Your tardiness can affect the operation of your company.

Don't Slack Off

Do your job promptly. Slacking off the floor by letting other people do the job which is supposed to you is simply a bad impression to you not only as a person but to your job performance. Be productive always and serve as role model to your fellow agents. Show them the real you that you are happy with what you are doing. There are many call center agents who were terminated because of this bad impression despite several times of IR (incidental report) issued to them.

Avoid Obscene Behavior

Displaying your obscene behavior while you are inside your company's premises is a big NO. When taking to the customer, talk with them with pleasure and with care. Never throw seducing words which sounds like you are doing phone sex to your customer. If caught, this may the end of your promising career in your in the call center. And worst, this may left bad wound in your previous job and to your co-workers.

Stop horsing around

Think of your responsibility as an employee of the company. While you are on duty, avoid playing around and horsing with other agents. Respect their privacy while they are on call and focusing on their job. This behavior can cause immediate violation because you are disturbing your co-workers instantly. Always put the fun in the right time. Implementing self-discipline is the best way to get rid of this disturbing behavior.

There are so many don'ts that you we need to implement. This can make the job easier if everybody is following the simple orders stated under the rules and regulations. It is important that the discipline must start on our own. Later on, other people who are new in the call center will learn the virtue that you showed. If you love your job then keep it.

The call center industry continues to give outstanding opportunity to everybody. It helps the economy prosper and lower the unemployment rate in the world.*