Reprinted below in accordance with the usual standards of copyright infringement prevalent in the Philippines (actually beyond those standards as I have given full accreditation to the source and writer!) is an interesting article. So many of us have called for assistance and been put through to a call center (Business Process Outsource company) in Manila or Cebu and become frustrated at how the operator seems to be reading from a script. Ask them something not covered by the script and they tend to simply ignore you and go back to the start of their script. Perhaps hoping somehow your problem will change and fit their script all of a sudden. If, until now you thought you were imagining this, take heart. It is a problem that has been noted and hopefully will be addressed. Personally I don’t care if call centers are not in my home state, what I want is a resolution, yet too many times this isn’t happening for reasons included here. I have a friend who hates having to call PayPal simply because they use a Philippines based BPO and the script is so tight you can barely get past ‘hello’. Of course it is not the fault of the operators who are only trying to do their best, make a living and hang on to their jobs.
It does identify a problem with the quality of the education people pay a lot of money to get and it seems it is letting them down. Well, it is if you want to hire good quality employees and not be prepared to settle for half trained, half educated applicants that seems to be what’s happening in Cebu at the moment.
Lack of workers slows BPO growth
By Mia A. Aznar
Thursday, July 28, 2011
THE business process outsourcing sector may be one of the fastest growing in the country, players admit there are just not enough qualified personnel that would allow them to expand even faster.
Butch Sison of Convergys said they remain “hopeful and passionate” about the industry’s growth in Cebu but admitted that some two-thirds of clients wanting to acquire services from their Cebu branches had to be turned down because of the lack of talent.
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Sison said that this could have meant 1,500 jobs. He said the sad part is, these required skills from level one agents.
“The inavailability of talent is critical,” he said, adding that the smaller BPO companies end up “keeping them afloat” by accepting new graduates and training them before they leave and get accepted to Convergys with better capabilities.
While Sison noted that most regions in the world can barely keep pace with the industry’s growth, he fears big companies will want to start looking around for other areas if Cebu doesn’t act quickly.
Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP)’s Jojo Ligan said the industry could grow easily at 50 percent if only there were enough qualified applicants who could fill these positions.
Instead, they only end up hiring 20 to 30 out of 100 applicants because not all of them meet the qualifications.
The good news, Ligan said, is that this problem is not unique to the Philippines.
BPO executives, however, find it an advantage that Cebu is a small area and that most managers know each other, making employees hesitate about jumping from one company to the next.
Accenture’s Ray Marañon assured they are satisfied with their location in Cebu, as they recently opened a second facility.
“We are bullish about our growth for the next five years,” he said.
While Cebu’s entry-level salaries are much higher than other cities beginning to open up to BPOs, Sison said challenges that prevent other cities from scaling up will prevent them from considering them as alternate locations and that they would rather stick it out in locations like Cebu.
Aside from a specific set of skills, Sison hopes the academe will produce graduates who can actually converse well with foreign clients.
He said the problem is not grammar of having flawless accents.
He noted that many cannot seem to converse with clients properly without sounding rehearsed.
What is important, he said, is to be able to connect to other human beings they are speaking to and let their personalities shine through the call.
He said teaching the traditional way of speaking may not be the right way to train students and suggested that the academe challenge traditional ways of teaching that would enable them to communicate effectively.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 29, 2011.