The Philippines, a country known for its beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage, has another feather in its cap – it’s a global powerhouse in the call center industry. This industry helped millions of Filipinos ever since it started in the Philippines and now, it has become one of the highest contributors to the nation’s GDP.
Little is known about the call centers in the Philippines, except of course its dynamic workplace, night owl hours, and its high turnover rate. The following are known facts about call centers in the Philippines:
Fact 1: The Philippines is a Global Leader in the Call Center Industry
The Philippines is known worldwide as a top place for call centers, even beating India. This is because of its well-educated workers, good work methods, knowledge in the field, low pay rates, and great location. The call center business in the country is growing fast. The government is making call centers safer and ramping up their tech services to attract more investors from other countries. It is projected that by 2022, the income made from this industry could be as much as $29.09 billion. Source
Fact 2: The Call Center Industry Contributes Significantly to the Philippine Economy
The call center business, also called Business Process Outsourcing or BPO, is known as the “Sunshine Industry” in the Philippines because it has grown tremendously in the past ten years. The call center industry has added a big chunk to the country’s economy. In 2012, the income made from this business was 5.4% of the country’s total economy. By 2013, about 900,000 Filipinos had full-time jobs in this business, and the income made from it went up to $15.5 billion. Source
Fact 3: English Proficiency and Cultural Affinity to the West
One big reason why many companies choose the Philippines for their call centers is because many Filipinos speak English well. The country is 27th in the 2020 English Proficiency Index, and Filipino call center workers are known for their spoken English skills. As the Philippines has a history with the United States, the Filipino people are familiar with Western culture. This makes it easier for Filipino call center agents to understand and connect with customers from other countries. Source
Fact 4: Government Support and Strong Data Security Regulations
The government in the Philippines helps the call center business by giving tax breaks to people from other countries who want to invest there. Also, they have a law called the Data Privacy Act. This law makes sure call centers in the Philippines keep personal data safe from people who shouldn’t have it. This makes investors from other countries trust the call center business in the Philippines more. source
Fact 5: Expansion of Call Center Locations
While the Philippines’ call center industry began in Metro Manila, it has since expanded to other locations, including Metro Cebu, Metro Clark (Pampanga), and Bacolod City. Among the other emerging cities are Baguio City, Davao City, and Sta. Rosa City. This geographic expansion has enabled the industry to access a larger talent pool across the nation. Source
Fact 6: High Demand for Offshore Business
As of 2022, the Philippines will serve approximately 15% of the global outsourcing market, indicating a high demand for offshore business. The country’s impressive literacy rate, cost-effective services, and neutral dialect contribute to its desirability as a destination for outsourcing. Source
Fact 7: Misconceptions about Call Center Locations
A common misconception is that a significant number of global call centers are based in the Philippines. This idea is so common that even people from other countries, like New Zealand, are often asked if they work in a call center in the Philippines. This mistaken belief might come from the fact that there are a lot of call centers in the Philippines, but it is not true that all call centers are based there. Call centers are an international business that are run in many different countries. Source
Fact 8: Office Politics in Call Centers
Office politics play a significant role in the call center industry in the Philippines. It is not enough to have excellent metrics or scorecards; having good people skills and the ability to navigate office politics are often more important for landing a supervisor role. Furthermore, pleasing management is crucial, as there is a phenomenon known as Extra-Judicial Termination (EJT), where employees who are not liked by management may be subtly pushed out.Source
Fact 9: The Philippines as the Call Center Capital
The Philippines is known as the “call center capital of the world” This is because there are a lot of call centers in the country that serve clients from other countries. The fact that the country speaks English well and has a similar culture to the West makes it a great place for these services. Source
Fact 10: Working Students in Call Centers
Many students in the Philippines need money to pay for school, so they work in call centers. These students who work often have to figure out how to fit their work shifts into their school schedules. It’s important for them to let their managers know that they are working with students so that they can get a shift that fits with their school plan.
Fact 11: Working Conditions in Call Centers
Some people might think it’s easy to work in a call center, but it’s not. Employees often work in shifts so they can serve clients in different time zones. Call center agents sometimes encounter health issues related to night shifts or the emotional toll of handling difficult customers. Some call center workers make about $300 a month, which isn’t much.
Fact 12: Metrics and Efficiency in Call Centers
In call centers, efficiency is very important. Every call is timed and measured, and workers who take too long on calls often get in trouble. This means that even talking to customers in a friendly way can hurt an agent’s ratings.
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In 2005, the government launched the Philippine Cyberservices Corridor, an “ICT belt stretching over 600 miles from Baguio City to Zamboanga”, capable of providing a variety of BPO services. The government allocated P26 billion for cyber corridor projects, with the completion of this corridor expected to accelerate the growth of the BPO sector (14).
Moreover, the government announced in May 2006 that it had earmarked about half of the P500 million “Training for Work Scholarship Program” for the IT industry to provide educational grants for the training of BPO applicants. This program issues training certificates to “near-hires” or applicants whose qualifications fall just slightly below a hiring company’s skill requirements (15).
Looking ahead, the integration of advanced technologies like AI and machine learning will be crucial in maintaining the industry’s competitive edge. However, for high-value Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPOs) to vigorously emerge, more specialized skills in areas such as IT, science, and engineering are needed (16). The government’s current support appears to be biased toward contact centers, given the disproportionate share that goes to contact centers in terms of funding for training. This gives the impression that the local BPO industry is merely waiting for a “natural process” to occur in which, at some point in time, the industry would eventually move up the value chain ladder. It is still not clear, however, how such dynamics would come into play (17).
In conclusion, the Philippine call center industry has proven itself as a formidable force in the global BPO landscape. From its humble beginnings in the early 2000s, it has grown exponentially, reaching an impressive $25 billion in total revenue by 2016 and employing over 1.3 million people. This remarkable growth has been fueled by a combination of factors including low labor costs, a highly skilled and educated workforce, widespread proficiency in English, competitive infrastructure, and supportive government policies (18).
The industry’s journey is a testament to the resilience, adaptability, and hard work of the Filipino people. Despite facing challenges such as skills shortages and high turnover, the industry has shown an impressive ability to innovate and adapt. Initiatives such as public-private partnerships and national competency tests have been implemented to address these issues and ensure a steady supply of skilled workers.
Looking ahead, the industry is poised for even greater growth. With the integration of advanced technologies like AI and machine learning, the Philippine call center industry is set to transition towards higher value addition and more knowledge-intensive activities. This shift not only ensures the industry’s competitiveness but also creates opportunities for higher-level job roles within the industry.
In the face of rapid technological changes and increasing global competition, the Philippine call center industry stands as a beacon of resilience and innovation. It is a shining example of how a country can leverage its unique strengths to carve out a niche for itself in the global economy.
Deeper into the call center history in the Philippines, it’s evident that companies such as SupportZebra have been instrumental in this growth. As we move forward, there is no doubt that the Philippine call center industry will continue to play a vital role in the global BPO landscape, creating jobs, driving economic growth, and showcasing the exceptional talent and skills of the Filipino workforce.