Despite the looming challenges that may come its way, the Philippines’ call center sector is expected to remain as among the strongest segments that contribute to the national economy. Many analysts cite the resilience and outstanding coping mechanism of local contact centers for the sector’s lasting strength and growth potential.
Overall, the local business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, wherein call centers belong, has a current total revenue of about $23 billion (P1.15 trillion). If it reaches an annual growth pace of about 16 percent, it is projected that by 2022, the industry could further rise to be a $40-billion (over P2 trillion) one, possibly making it the top contributor to the national economy’s growth, displacing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remittances.
When it comes to providing employment, ads from various call center firms across the country continue to dominate job vacancy posts in various job portals. Proof to this is the recent disclosure released by government-sponsored job site PhilJobNet, which indicated that out of 6,120 active job vacancies it posted in the January 18 week, about 17 percent or 1,029 positions were call center opportunities.
Here are some other top factors why the call center sector remains as promising as ever regardless of changes in the global and local regulations.
Global industry shift to customer experience
Most industry analysts from around the world agree that the Philippine call center sector is poised to benefit the most from an ongoing shift from customer service to customer experience. Global consulting and research firm Everest Group, through its white paper entitled ‘Philippines at the Help of Delivering Customer Experience of the Future,’ has found that contact centers in the country are very ready for this shift.
Higher level of agents’ skills could also counter the speculated setbacks of increasing automation across various industries. In fact, some of the local contact center companies have already implemented measures to ensure their agents meet current requirements from international clients, leading to more new high-skill jobs with higher pay rates.
New employment opportunities
“We are excited about the new opportunities that are arising within the local contact center sector as we collectively address ongoing shifts focusing on technology and nature of service,” said Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) Chairman Benedict Hernandez. “In the onset of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation, complex jobs will be created to support higher level of customer experience.”
One of the firms that have embraced such adjustments is the Philippine operations of US-based Genpact Services LLC, which has started skills upgrade programs four years ago. “We need to sharpen the saw in terms of soft skills and enhance those in terms of science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Genpact Services Country Manager Danilo Sebastian Reyes, who is also a member of CCAP’s Board of Directors.
“English proficiency is still an advantage. But there are skills that need to be enhanced to upgrade the level of service provided into a customer-experience-focused one,” Reyes added. Aside from providing necessary training to its employees, the company is also coordinating with the academe to make sure specific skills required in modern call center jobs will be integrated in special courses offered by local universities. The goal is to make more fresh graduates more than ready to take modern call center jobs immediately.
Call centers as driver for property industry growth
The continuous growth of the local call center sector is one of the primary drivers of the ongoing rise of the property industry’s office segment. In 2017, a record total of 1.2 million square meters of office space was added to the already growing land area occupied by call centers nationwide.
“In 2017, we have seen the highest growth so far in terms of supply,” said Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Philippines Regional Director Sheila Lobien during a recent business forum. Lobien also noted that the country has among the lowest office rental rates in all of Asia—ranking ninth to the lowest in terms of rental value. Thus, most global companies that require outsourcing services see the country as a cost-efficient site for their extended offices.