Manila call center news

Manila call center news

As evening falls in Manila and the rush-hour traffic begins to fade, there is an unusual migration occurring in the opposite direction. Hordes of office workers are departing their homes to head into the capital's financial districts to commence work. Welcome to the world of Manila's call centers.

The enthusiastic young men and women who operate in these skyscrapers are known as call center agents, and the majority of their clients live on the other side of the world. This is the reason that their nightshifts are by far their busiest periods. A study undertaken last year discovered that the Philippines employs approximately 600,000 such workers, officially overtaking India as the world's most populous call center operators.

The actual tasks that are performed in these neon-lit buildings cover a diverse range of possibilities. Whether you are an Australian seeking to book a flight, or someone in New York trying to purchase a theatre ticket, or even an irate customer in Western Europe complaining of faults with their washing machine, calling the helpline is much more likely to result in them being routed through to an enthusiastic Filipino than the traditional Indian call center stereotype.

So why have call centers exploded in this way in the Philippines? There are any number of reasons, but perhaps the most obvious one of all are these two: wages are relatively low, ensuring that call center costs are extremely manageable in this part of the world; Filipinos, with their American colonial influence, speak easily-recognizable, international English. This makes them particularly easily understood on the other side of the Pacific, where large numbers of the individuals ringing their lines are doing so from the USA.

There are other reasons for the burgeoning numbers of call centers in the Philippines. Their development followed on from internet telephony – the evolution in this technology meaning that overseas telephone calls were no longer unduly expensive. There is an even more simplistic reason. Filipinos have long taken pride in their traits of being a friendly, charming and approachable people. These characteristics are worth their weight in gold when it comes to having the tools to dealing with large numbers of strangers calling on the telephone on a daily basis.

The industry itself is fast evolving. Despite the fact that there are significant levels of poverty in the country, managers are prepared to invest heavily in the technology, in order that Filipino call centers can find themselves equipped to deal with those in any other part of the world.

According to Raffy David, a director at the Teleserv call center: ‘The Philippines came into this business about ten years ago, around the time of a technological shift to IP telephony'. In other words, this coincided with the likes of free voice services such as Skype, making outsourcing cheap and easy.