The global business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has become one of the biggest revenue-generating players for a lot of economies all over the world, especially in countries where it has gained good ground.
Last year, the global market for outsourced services was valued at around $89 billion, which was an increase of $12 billion from the previous year.
There are generally two types of outsourcing services, which are internal business (back office) functions such as human resources, accounting services, data management, or customer-related functions (front office) like customer care services handled by call centers.
There are three categories in the outsourcing service industry:
Offshore – These are services provided by vendors located in another country, for example, outsourced services contracted in the Philippines, India or Singapore by US companies.
Onshore – Outsourced services provided by vendors located within the same country.
Nearshore – Outsourcing vendors providing services close to or near the contracting country. An example would be US companies outsourcing services in Canada or Mexico.
The damaging effects of poor customer service
According to research, US companies lose an estimated $62 billion in revenues due to the effects of poor customer service.
There are factual and valid reasons for customer service to largely impact businesses because according to the 2017 Customer Service Barometer conducted by American Express, customer experience can make or break a business
The study pointed out three critical points that businesses need to consider;
– On average, US consumers tell 15 people of a poor service experience versus 11 people who get to hear of good ones.
– More than half of American consumers or 60% would consider abandoning ideas of making a purchase in a company due to poor service.
– After a negative customer experience, no less than 51% of customers will be lost to a company.
It’s all about customer experience
But here’s the good news, in the same study, seven out of 10 consumers said they would spend more money doing business with a company that provides great customer service.
Millennials were found to spend the most on a business and even stated they are willing to shell out an additional 21% of the initial value for exceptional customer care.
This was supported by a different study from global financial strategist Bain and Company which revealed that increasing customer retention rates by 5% boosts profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.
Another study by finance research group Gartner found that 64% of consumers would consider customer experience more important than price when it comes to making a purchase.
What is a Call Center?
Call centers are centralized departments where phone calls from customers are directed. Call center services handle inbound and/or outbound calls, and may be located either within a company or outsourced to another company that specializes in handling calls.
Call center services are used mostly by telemarketing companies, online merchants, telecommunication service providers, travel or hospitality companies, product help desks, e-commerce ventures, polling services, charities, or any organization that uses the telephone to sell and provide products or services or enhances the customer experience.
Typically, inbound call centers handle a considerable volume of calls at the same time, screens or forwards calls to someone tasked with specific support boundaries, and logs calls.
A modern take on this service is an interactive voice response (IVR) system that answers calls and uses speech recognition technology to attend to customer queries with an automated message or route calls to the appropriate call center agents through an automated call distributor.
Agents in an inbound call center service may handle calls from customers regarding service billing details, accounts management, complaints, scheduling, technical support queries about products or services, or intent to purchase from the company.
With an outbound call center service, an agent makes calls on behalf of the company or client for tasks, such as customer retention, fundraising, lead generation, telemarketing, polling, debt collection, or scheduling appointments.
In order to maximize efficiencies, calls are usually made with an automated dialer and then transferred to an available agent via an IVR system after a connection with a person has been made. Outbound call center services are bound to comply with the National Do Not Call Registry, a list containing phone numbers of people who refuse to take unsolicited phone calls.
The ideal match: Customer service and Call Center Services
Many companies today outsource their customer service operations to call center services for very strategic and practical reasons;
Saves cost and enhances productivity
A lot of businesses- from startups to Fortune 500 companies- have seen the benefits of outsourcing business processes to BPO’s and have done so for very good reasons.
One major reason companies consider outsourcing is the overall reduced costs. It provides a more efficient approach in controlling operating costs significantly.
Consider the costs for every additional employee in terms of salary, overhead expenses, equipment/software, training/education, office supplies, and facility costs.
Access to quality talent and infrastructure
Outsourcing provides you with instant access to the service provider’s screened professional talents and business infrastructure.
This is highly advantageous if you have yet to invest in the technology needed to provide an extensive telephone answering service to your customers. Entrusting your call center services to a service provider lets you benefit from the latest communication systems and software.
Allow businesses to focus on core functions and responsibilities
Outsourcing allows businesses to have an undivided focus on their main offerings instead of company functions that aren’t directly tied to their core processes.
For instance, when outsourcing, the company won’t have to monitor the payroll accountant’s performance. Rather, it can focus its energies on highlighting its business nuances and maximizing overall growth. In turn, such actions can boost a company’s competitive advantage and enhance its interactions with the value chain. Ultimately, the company can enjoy improved customer satisfaction and increased profits.
Focused attention on customer service targets
For business processes such as call center services, companies who choose to outsource are provided with access to talent and dedicated resources on customer service. Resources for training, development, quality assurance, and infrastructure are provided by vendors.
Outsourced customer service providers are tasked only with ensuring that it meets the business’s standards and requirements for customer service metrics and goals. This gives businesses the flexibility to diversify and need not worry about the pressures of ensuring customers are given their due support and attention.
Getting the best call center services
The Philippines is currently ranked #1 globally in terms of offshore voice-based services. The strong growth of this BPO sector is expected to continue for at least another decade, with hopes that with proper adaption to emerging technologies it could even grow further beyond.
The reason behind all this growth is that the Philippines is the best source for fluent English language speakers who are accent-neutral and familiar with Western diction, grammar, and figures of speech.
Filipinos are also very service-oriented people, which has been responsible for it being regarded as the “best destination” for BPO services and consistently ranked among the best in overall customer satisfaction.
Call center services have dominated the Filipino outsourcing industry with voice-based services- inbound and outbound- making up more than 70% of BPO revenues generated in 2010.
Measuring success through call center reporting and analytics
Call center service providers measure success rates and efficiency by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), which are stated in their contracts and service level agreements
These KPIs vary from one company to another depending on the center’s function:
Outbound call center services may be measured by cost per call, revenue earned, total calls made, and tasks completed, among other performance metrics.
Inbound call center service metrics, on the other hand, may include first call resolution (FCR); average wait time; average handle time, customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings, and abandoned call rates.
In addition, speech analytics software is used to monitor and analyze call center agent performance. It can identify areas that may require more knowledge and training and is used to improve call handling times and FCR.
Top-quality call center services in the Philippines
The Philippines has been named as one of the top destinations for call center services around the world.
Last year, it ranked 15th worldwide and third in Asia in the English Proficiency Index with a high proficiency rating. India, which is the country’s biggest competitor finished 27th with a moderate proficiency rating.
Businesses relying on phone support for customer service have found that Philippine agents are well-adapted to American-accented English. Majority of proficient English speakers have neutral accents which allow them to communicate clearly and more effectively than their Indian or other foreign counterparts.
The educational system in the Philippines is patterned after the US educational system and English is the standard language for communication. Much of which was carried on since the country was colonized by the US by the turn of the 20th century.
Academic curricula by all colleges and universities in the Philippines focus on talent and skills development to best prepare graduates for the modern-day workplace, which are highly complementary to Filipino ingenuity and admirable work ethic.
Government support to strengthen the BPO industry
The Philippine government has been very supportive of the country’s BPO industry not just in promoting more outsourced information technology, business process, or call center services, but also serve to strengthen international competitiveness in the global outsourcing market.
The government has been working for the retention of current fiscal incentives schemes, the passage of three non-fiscal laws that the IT-BPO industry has identified as priority targets, and labor legislation for BPO workers in order to compete in the global marketplace.
Congress has been working on amendments for current laws that support the BPO sector and provide fiscal incentives to firms registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Board of Investments (BOI).
The government believes that legislation is a critical aspect in investors’ decision-making process to set up operations in the Philippines. With these landmark legislation, industry experts project that these could help generate $75 billion in new foreign investments, another 10 million jobs, and over PHP1 trillion for the Philippine economy within the decade.
Currently, almost all new IT-BPO locators establish their operations within PEZA zones so they can take advantage of initial tax holidays and low taxes after the expiration of their initial holidays.
What investors could expect in the near future
The Philippines has become a major player in the business process management and health information technology industry. In 2016, total IT spending reached $4.4 billion, and the sector is expected to more than double by 2020.
Filipinos are heavy into social media with more than 42 million users on Facebook, 13 million on Twitter, and 3.5 million are registered LinkedIn users.
To further attract more investors, the country is also in the process of enabling free public Wi-Fi. In the context of the rapid growth of the digital economy and increasing international trade of data, the Philippines has strengthened its privacy and security protections.
In 2012 the Philippines enacted the Data Privacy Act 2012, comprehensive and strict privacy legislation “to protect the fundamental human right of privacy, of communication while ensuring the free flow of information to promote innovation and growth.” (Republic Act. No. 10173, Ch. 1, Sec. 2).
This comprehensive privacy law also established a National Privacy Commission that enforces and oversees it and is endowed with rulemaking power. On September 9, 2016, the final implementing rules and regulations were enforced, adding specificity to the Privacy Act.
This became the country’s response to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure clients of data protection and security measures in place for call center services and other critical BPO operations.