The Philippine Call Center Chronicles: Contributions for a Brighter Industry

An essential function of the Philippine call center and BPO industry is efficiently meeting customer needs. These needs cover a cacophony of things which can be summarized into four categories: the usual product or service inquiry, requests for changes, additional services or customized information from the company, technical support for malfunctioning products or procedural guidance on operating the product, and finally, product or service complaints and grievances. In other instances, Philippine call center firms promote product and services that would be of use to customers and persuade them to purchase such. The industry collectively names these contributions as inbound customer care and outbound telemarketing. Having known them, potential investors and other onlookers might think that there is nothing more a Philippine call center could do besides what have been mentioned earlier. That is certainly a misconception.

So what other contributions can a Philippine call center make? The most appropriate term for this question is EXPANSION. This expansion is not just about physically and literally putting up more offices for operations, but on opening up to more addressable markets. There are many industries to choose from besides those that Philippine call centers are already addressing. Take for instance the health care industry, which is now gaining prominence because of hospitals’ need for more mechanisms to hasten their patient prioritization system. From this need arose the discovery that a nurse triage is very much suitable to our Philippine call center technology. Agents pooled for the emerging healthcare are required to have sufficient medical background. Their main duties include scheduling patients for a doctor’s appointment, prescribing or suggesting appropriate medication, and informing patients to proceed to the emergency room for immediate treatment. The remarkable implication of this is that, even if indirect, the Philippine call center industry has a stake in prolonging the lives of individuals all over the world. By catering to healthcare, outsourcing firms in the country are able to contribute to a number of human development indexes beyond their borders.

If there is expansion, there is also EMPLOYMENT. Not all outsourcers are aware of how much they have done the Philippines a favor. Within a decade since its appearance in the Philippines, hundreds and thousands of jobs have been created for both young and middle age Filipinos. Since the rise of business process outsourcing firms and call centers, the country has experienced rapid urbanization and technological advancements. Information Technology (IT) hubs, towers and parks are being built each year and Philippine call center agents and their families have also begun to enjoy high standards of living. Malls, coffee shops, and cyber stores are nowadays flooded with employees from Philippine call center and outsourcing firms. Who knows such an easy gesture as outsourcing can be a great blessing to Filipinos.

More than giving a Third World country a taste of the good life, foreign investments has also awakened entrepreneurial spirits. Their initial investments in Philippine call center services and facilities have now resulted to the emergence of locally owned call centers that are growing independently from foreign offshore establishments. So from expansion comes employment; from employment comes the benefit of ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Many firms in the Philippine call center industry are now owned by foreign nationals who are married to a Filipina, naturalized citizens, and Filipino businessmen who either have extensive foreign connections or enough capital to build a call center. Most of them developed their business acumen from the outpour of offshore call centers in the country. To be able to keep up with the demands of overseas clients and their customers, they often employ a Westernized management style that motivates Philippine call center agents to be customer-oriented and performance-driven.

Finally, summing up everything, we will see the bigger picture: the ECONOMY. This is where all the contributions of the Philippine call center industry add up to. The industry is currently an important driver of economic growth for the second largest archipelago in the world. Yet with the expansion of the industry, with more jobs created, and with more local entrepreneurs competing side by side with foreign-owned outsourcing firms, Philippine call centers would be part of an industry that outshines all others. In the long run, this sunshine industry would remain one of the most important economic propellers. When you look at trade and industry statistics everywhere, be it domestic or international, BPO and call centers are always at the top of the list and its contributions to development are seriously staggering.

Now with the three E’s adding up to the big E, what can only be understood is GLOBAL JUSTICE. By outsourcing to the Philippine call center industry, Western countries are sharing a part of their wealth and prosperity to a developing country that was once groping in the darkness of colonization, only to achieve a premature independence and make ends meet. Here and now is the time for redemption – to return to the colonized the benefits of colonization through outsourcing. This goes to show that outsourcing is a form of global justice, where a Philippine call center is but an expression of what it is to be redeemed.