Call centers here on a roll

Published by reposted only Date posted on December 29, 2009

NEW DELHI—For about a decade, it was India’s call center boom that defined it as “the world’s back office,” much like neighboring China has been immortalized as “the world’s factory.”

But the situation seems to be changing as the Philippines is fast upstaging India’s back-office supremacy, with BPO service providers and customers seeming to favor this country as a better place for “voice-related” work, the Economic Times of India reported Sunday.

“India has lost tens of thousands of jobs to the Philippines. The caliber of English is better and companies don’t have to put up with the mess [that exists in India] there,” the paper quoted Pramod Bhasin, president and chief executive of Genpact, as saying.

Some of the major hassles that India poses include arranging transport for employees, security, power back-up in offices, and basic infrastructure that companies can take for granted in the Philippines.

The country has become a preferred destination, especially with US companies of which many are more comfortable with the English accent spoken there. US customers account for over 50 percent of the global outsourcing business.

Ananda Mukherji, chief executive of BPO provider Firstsource Solutions, says that costs are more or less similar in both countries. This means the accent proficiency in the Philippines tips the scales in its favor.

According to the Economic Times, many of the Philippines’ advantages are due to US rule—it became the United States’ only colony—that bequeathed to it the English language with its distinct accent, along with a robust telecommunications and broadband network laid out by US defense forces.

“Apart from affinity to the US culture and English-speaking skills, the country’s time zone advantages make the Philippines a natural choice for providing 24×7 service to global companies, particularly those based in the US,” said Prabhakar Bisen, head of the Philippine operations of WNS.

Genpact, Wipro BPO, Intelenet, Aegis BPO, and Firstsource are all ramping up their operations in the Philippines. Genpact has about 2,000 employees there and expects to scale up operations by 40 to 50 percent in the next 12 months.

Firstsource has about 500 staff in Manila, while WNS has increased staffing to 1,100 from 200 in the past 18 months, providing a mix of voice and back-office services for telecommunications, consumer products, travel and financial services clients.

In the past 12 months, Wipro BPO has set up a 1,000-seat center in Cebu City, with staff there engaged in telecommunications, health care, energy and utilities-related tasks, the Economic Times said. –Manila Standard Today

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