Philippine call center
Philippine call centers now employ more agents than India in a shift in the booming business away from its traditional home. Some call center operations in India have even moved part of their business to the Philippines.
The large number of young fluent English-speakers who naturally talk with an American twang is one of the key reasons more outfits have established a presence on the Pacific archipelago.
Customers calling from the US sometimes struggle with Indian-accented English even though centres in Delhi, Mumbai or Pune train their staff to iron out any kinks.
But the fact that the Philippines was once an American colony and still clings to many US cultural values means that agents can more easily identify with callers. The Philippines’ education and legal systems are based on those in the US and still mirror them closely.
Migration to the US from the Philippines is another point for affinity. Filipinos are now the US’s second largest group of immigrants after Mexico.
The Philippines’ advantages coupled with low labor costs – a call center shift pays just £13.20 – have allowed the Philippines to overtake India.
A recent survey by IBM found there were more call center agents in the Philippines than India. The Philippines’ Contact Center Association says that 350,000 are employed locally, compared to India’s 330,000.
Last year the business in the Philippines earned about £6.5 billion, with that figure projected to rise to £16.5 billion by 2016, partly due to tax breaks for new companies.
But in so-called non-voice operations – business process outsourcing like human resources, accounting and legal transcription – India still reigns supreme and dwarfs the Philippines.