BPO Talks: Call Center Industry Firm On Retaining No.1 Status

The call center industry of the Philippines is determined to keep its status as number one in the world for voice calls, even as it strives to put key measures in place to also become number one in the non-voice segment.

Call Center Association of the Philippines executive director Jojo Uligan says there is a need to revisit education in the Philippines to incorporate the ever-changing dynamics in the contact centers. At the same time, Uligan also says there is now a need to study other key languages to ensure continued growth in the world market. 

In an interview with the newest online talk show called BPO Talks, Uligan says the types of calls the contact center agents receive now are vastly different from what it used to be more than a decade ago. "12 years ago we only handled basic calls, now our agents are answering more complex types, such as a client in the US asking how to fix their computers," Uligan points out.

In the maiden episode of the online show BPO Talks, Uligan also reiterated that the requirements of the customers are continuously growing, and there are now more requests from clients for agents to be proficient in other languages as well, apart from English. In the taped-as-live episode, Uligan said "because our global customers are so satisfied with the way we handle things in the Philippines, they now ask us, can you do this in other languages?"

For the foreign vendors' part, they also emphasized the need for greater efficiency through the use of the right technology. Slava Varlamov, the country manager for the Noda Interaction Platforms said, "we are present in other countries, but we realize the Philippines is number one in the world in the BPO contact center industry not only because of their good English, but because they care about the customers." But he stressed the need for higher efficiency, especially with the smaller and mid-sized contact centers due to the nature of the more complex-type of calls that contact center agents now deal with.

"Technology can help. As requirements become more complicated, technology has to provide the agent a single user interface that presents data from several applications, not only for call management systems, but also for billing systems and others. Enabled by these powerful tools an agent can simultaneously handle not only voice calls, but fax’ requests, instant messaging (Skype), emails, and other sources of customer communication."
The same BPO Talks episode also had DIWA Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay as one of the guests, where she talked about the measure she filed in Congress, House Bill 562 or the BPO Workers Act. She explains that the bill aims to ensure the rights and protection of the BPO workers in the Philippines. In particular, she says her group is determined to ensure the agents' security of tenure.

Aglipay points out that because her partylist group represents the workers in general, she would like to put a stop to the practice of some unscrupulous contact centers of keeping their workers in in a temporary status, and are thus deprived of benefits and privileges that should be accorded to them under the present law. But Aglipay states that she doesn't have any intention of burdening the industry further, she just wants to make sure every agents' rights are protected. "My commitment is to be able to cooperate with the industry, while ensuring the rights of agents are protected and are not neglected."

However CCAP's Uligan said in the same episode that perhaps these cases arise from some call centers that do not belong to their group. "We don't have any contractual employees, contrary to the complaints your partylist group is getting," he said and he meant that for every member that is a part of CCAP. HB 562 has been referred to the Labor Committee.

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