For the past few years, Asia has proven its specialization in call centers. The Asian call center market raked $655 million on 2002. Business analysts expect its agile progress in the next years to come. By 2007, its industry, specializing in customer support, is expected to earn $1.5 billion. With this, the customer service industry becomes one of the most significant contributing factors to Asia’s economic growth.
Primarily because of its cheap-but-skilled workforce, Asia has become a favorite destination of North American and European countries in customer service. With its smart and English-proficient customer service representatives, multinational companies can save up to 80 percent in hiring equally qualified Asian employees, compared to their Western counterparts.
Among the emerging industries in Asia, Philippines is one of the recognized global leaders in the call center industry. Philippines has established an edge over Asian rivals. With a low cost labor of $6 to $10 per hour, the customer support market continues to prosper. Its remarkable spread results to its economic growth. In fact, it earned $10.5 million in 2002 and is expected to rapidly increase in the next years.
There are different factors why Philippines dominates the global market in customer service. One is the culture compatibility of the Philippines and the US, an effect of being the latter’s colony decades ago. The country’s education system and many business practices are culturally Western. Moreover, there is an observable similarity with the US commercial code and the Philippines’ mercentile laws. Hence, Western companies prefer the more Westernized Philippines compared to its Asian competitors.
Being known as the second largest English-speaking country is a significant factor as well. With an education system using English as a medium, Filipinos are more English proficient, with its famous neutral accent. Also, Philippines’ access to American media such as television and literature has made Filipinos more familiar with the American accent.
Known for being patient and accommodating, Filipinos are more customer-oriented, giving them an additional edge over its Asian neighbors. According to a study conducted by Call Center Research, an Australian-based resarch firm, Philippines devotes more importance in maintaining its high quality of customer service. In this study, Philippines ranked second to Australia.
Aside from English proficiency, many Filipinos are also knowledgeable in other languages as well. Spanish, for instance, has some resemblance with the country’s first language, Filipino. As a colony of Spain over 300 years, Filipinos have noticeable potential in developing European languages, especially Spanish. This then should assure the country more business from non-English-speaking countries.
While India’s “cheap but good” labor pool dominates Asia, the Philippines is quickly catching up with its intrinsic edge over its competitors. More than the lower cost of operations, Philippines has a lot to offer with its good infrastructure and strong governmental support, not to mention its adept workers globally known for its skills and technological capabilities. As the popular saying goes, quality over quantity.