The Philippines, Call Center Capital of the World

A typical call center production floor in the ...
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This article is in reply to “BSCT: Bachelor of Science in Callcenter [sic] Technology?” It is quite interesting to see an article like this as I am aiming to research on call centre communication on a conversational level. Apart from several (actually many) grammatical mistakes and a digressing narrative (as you read further into the article, it seemed to have lost touch with the main issue that was presented), I believe that JoVi is suggesting that the Philippines should respond to the high-demands of call center industry by making it an academic specialization.

 

Come on, really?!

 

Companies taking advantage of low-cost third-world-country-labor and communication technologies outsource their services with an inherent goal of saving money. Did you think that they would prefer non-native speakers of the English-language over native English speakers? Let alone to pay the previous to communicate with their own people?  Choosing offshore locations to provide communications services is purely economically motivated. The Philippines, being a country thriving with bilingual individuals who can speak and understand English and who are willing to work for cheaper salaries, is a ‘call center paradise’. Compared to engineering, nursing or psychology, the call center industry is a new institution that needed to lure new employees. It is faced with the challenge of luring a workforce among those who have trained under established academic specializations like engineering, psychology, nursing, computer science, etc.

 

Being a call center representative from the get-go was a secondary career choice – a back-up plan. I dare say that none of those employed in call centers today have dreamt of being call center agents or have trained to be call center agents in school. It provided a very good fall-back for those who needed to drop out due to financial difficulties or disinterest towards studying; even for those who’ve trained for different professions but who are not able to look for work in their chosen field or industry. The Philippines’ failure to produce enough jobs for university trained graduates caused many of them to opt for underemployment than no employment at all.

 

I believe that working in the call center industry should remain a second choice for Filipinos.

 

I am not saying that the call center industry is irrelevant or that working as a call center representative should not be treated as a “job” per se. Rather, there are reasons why I think a Bachelor of Science in Call Center Technology should never exist.

Firstly, the courses that JoVi proposed (e.g., ‘Soft Skills 101’, ‘Grammar 2’, ‘Complaints Handling 104’, ‘Multi-tasking Skills 5163’) will provide ‘students’ with the same skills that can be learned through (completing) mainstream courses or on-the-job training. Soft skills can be enhanced by completing group-tasks and working with other students; actually, just by being around people a lot. Grammar can be enhanced through reading and writing, and reading and writing even more; reading textbooks, magazines, journal articles, internet articles, anything – with essence of course. Complaints handling can be learned within organizational communication or industrial psychology courses. Multi-tasking skills can be learned just by training yourself to do more things at the same time. Just be busy – with school work, social events, work stuff. If multi-tasking were a necessary course, don’t you think universities would’ve offered it a long time before, as it is a necessary skill of everyone, not just call center representatives?

 

Skills needed for call center work are skills that are inherent in courses offered by mainstream degrees. To extract and teach them as subjects per se remove their essence and, as such, they will become fruitless. When you embark on established degrees like engineering, psychology, sociology, biology, etc., you learn these skills along with other relevant knowledge. Completing any of them does not only make you highly qualified for a call center position but also for (an)other professional field(s). Don’t waste money. I also quote JoVI for saying that working in a call center only has “few qualifications needed” – what does that say about the quality of BSCT if it were to be offered?

 

Secondly, and this is coming from a cross-cultural psychology perspective, there are cross-cultural issues implicit in cross-cultural communication. You don’t only need to learn to relate to people, but you need to learn to relate to these people from this culture. Some skills become irrelevant within the context of cross-culture communication and could cause interactional breakdowns. Communication is more complicated than we all think.

 

Thirdly, making an academic specialization for a position that is inherently within the “employee” category as opposed to enticing people to pursue academic qualifications that provide them with the agency to become potential “employers” is underestimating, if not bastardizing our Filipino society’s potential. Outsourcing call centers to our country is a safe choice by companies who wish to keep more profit for themselves. Call centers exist because companies think they could not afford or would not like to pay for higher labor costs in their own countries. As such, third-world countries are always second choice. Come on Filipinos, we could do more than call center representatives, surely.

 

Lastly, making an academic specialization for call center work will make labor-costs more expensive. This is something that companies will not like. Faster than you can say “Hello, this is [blank] speaking..”, they will be off looking for other locations with even cheaper labor. That is why I believe that call center work should not be a life-time career. It is highly dependent on labor costs and the county’s position as a call center capital of the world can change anytime.

 

For the people who choose it as their career, good on you. If you could spend the rest of your life on the phone then a call center job suits you very well. I have nothing against people working in call centers but I am sure that you are more talented and more capable than that. Filipinos are way better than this.

 

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  • Heart

    I totally agree! Very well said.

  • Vannessa San Juan

    I think what people should look into about the call center industry is the social damage it creates. Yes, call centers pay their people really well. But do you have any idea how many families it destroyed, what with the working condition it upholds?

  • cookiewookie

    I agree with you!

  • Good to know!!

  • Call centers really help our fresh college graduates who are not yet eligible! But it does not mean that we are going to offer a specific course for call centers.

  • julius

    ako nga maski call center ayaw ako tanggapin hahaha computer engineering grad here cisco certified jobless.

  • seriously, there’s a call center course now? I only heard of the training centers for call center agents, basically for speaking (accent and naturalization) and other computer skills…

    there was a previous documentary about this industry too. according to labor agency in the philippines, it is not considered as skilled work. skilled work is job that can be done independently (meaning even without employers)… examples: architects, engineers, accountants, etc.

    So if it’s not a skilled job, how do you categorized call center agents? If we are to pursue Call Center course, what do we look forward into? as one of the poster said, why not aim for something that would eventually make us businessmen / women or future employers? If that skill is not acquired in school, where do we get them?

  • Jill Isabino

    Well, what can we do? Even if we try to push out luck to work in our own field of of expertise, we can’t earn the salary that says “stay and grow in your chosen career.” It was a desperate (but helpful) move of the government to open the country for outsourcing just to decrease the unemployment rate. Shame though that many of us in this period are college graduates, but half of us are still stuck working with careers not related to these courses. I do believe that Filipinos are better than being phone operators to lazy Americans. I’m still hoping that someday labor for Filipino bosses/companies/organizations will be worthy to pursue as a career.

    • Shot up…you are making me stupid here…it seems that you dont really understand the real scenario of living in the country..para sa mga tamad ra na man nga course… Ingun ni Obama… YES WE CAN… naa ta mahimo..kun gamitun nato atong alimpatakan…nganu mudawat man daw ka ug slwedo nga kuwang pa gani ipalit ug bugas, bayad kurente, tubig, etc…??? k no choice? wtf! Kuwang man mo sa utok oi… i mean daghan kayu work ai na pede ninyo mapalambu atong country..dont say na “Well, what can we do?”..its a very lame answer…your making me angry! Bili ka na lng nang angry bird…yun..yayaman pa ang pamimirata sa license nang Rovio nyan..hahaha…..

      • Jill Isabino

        Yes. I am making you stupid HERE.
        Not really the topic but “What can we do?” is a question.

  • dean

    It’s a nitch, and nothing but a perfect nitch for a growing industry on Call Centers. It’s a free enterprise. In China, or in Japan there is a University solely devoted in teaching on how to become a McDonalds(Hamburger)employee,i.e flipping burgers and fries.

    • dean

      Our pride and prejudices towards growth and development are the key problems on why we are still behind.

      • Behind…k tungud mana xa sa atong lihuk sad..ugali nato nang mga tangaun..pero sakyan lng ta sa mga dayuhan..kasabut ka? aha man ka ga skwela oi..hastang buguka sad nimo.

        • dean

          Dahuyan my ass! 99.9% ng gamit mo sa bahay, cell phone mo, damit mo, computer, etc.. lahat yan ay gawa ng mga dayuhan. Buang!

          There’s NO cure for dumb! None whatsoever!

    • hinde ko alam yun ah. Nice! Insightful ha

  • smiley

    I read only the part before the picture of the guy but I agree with you. This is simple common sense. I haven’t read and have no plans of reading the article that you’re commenting upon but I share the same sentiments as you, “Come on, really?!”. Some dumb guy probably wrote that. Stupidest, most ignorant thing I’ve read in a while. And I would like to add what some Indian who is an awardee of, I think, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards said, we shouldn’t make the same mistake as India wherein people who worked in call centers stopped thinking outside the box. They felt that they can’t anymore do anything else besides being a call center agent. And that’s sad.

  • kiero

    Well said! Kudos to you!

  • dean

    Who cares! One should be thankful for having a job. A lot of college graduates are having a tough time finding their main specialty in the job market. Whether it’s for temporary reasons, you need to own it. I live here in the US and have encountered speaking over the phone with filipino tech supports from Manila, and I was very impressed with their English skills(speaking) No comparison to the ones from India. They’re in constant scrutiny and critisms around the world because of the way they talk, grammar,accent, etc. All I’m saying is, you got to do, what you got to do to put food on the table. Love your job!

    • simangotz

      this is the exact mentality of people who exploit job seekers…bulok!!!

      • dean

        It’s called “Personal Responsibilty.” Hindi puro asa ke Mommy at Daddy!

  • dolphilippines

    BACHELOR DEGREE IN BEING A WHITE MAN’s SLAVE?!
    THE BUSINESS OF EDUCATION AND SLAVE BREEDING?!
    go philippines! mabuhay! maraming salamat po.

    • dean

      Exploitation? Ikaw ang bulok! No one is forced to take the job. They applied for the position and knew exactly what they’re getting into. It’s called being a responsible human being. Hindi yung naka-asa ke Mommy at Daddy! Binulbol ka na’t lahat, nakatira ka parin sa parents mo. Pwe!

  • jayjay

    You got to what you got to do to survive i know that many of the c.c agents are over qualified but whay choice do they have if they can’t find a job in their field.. it is a blessing that lots of companies chose philippines as their call centre because it creates jobs for thousands of filipinos. And not being racist i prefer talking to a pinoy than an indian because i understand pinoy better when i’m talking to them

  • I agree with the author, its not a life long career and theres no need to put up a course such as BSCT.

  • Way utok ang gahimo ani nga article “BSCT: Bachelor of Science in Callcenter [sic] Technology?” isa ra gipasabut ani..title pa lng..mangmang na ug stupido ang mga pinoy! Hoy intawun..kinsa ka man nga crab..yaw panabla..Bugo na jud mo para maghimo ug kurso ani? WA KA KABALO NA WA GANI NA APPROVE ANG RH BILL NA TAAS UG PRIORITY KISA ANA? Bugua sad nimo oi…

    Sakto na imo Georgy…sakot na negative ka ana…Kudus!

    • Joe Lim

      to bugok ka! have you read the article? what has written! if you have nothing to say shut up!

  • JC Gercan

    The word profit or economic reasons were mentioned in redundancy and forgot about another reason why they choose to outsource. These clients from all around the world choose to outsource not only because they want to save money by paying a ‘foreign rep’ rather than a ‘native rep’ but also because Filipino’s are naturally kind and patient. On the technical aspect, they are also looking at the location, emergency reason, say for example a certain site with ‘native reps’ is unable to operate due to a hurricane or any type of emergency, who do you think should continue their business?

    Our client had 4 sites before. One in Jacksonville, Bangladesh, Madison and in Manila. They removed Madison, (thou they have native reps there) due to the numbers they are producing, then later on removed Bangladesh as their scores for Quality and Customer Service was not as good as what we have produced in Manila.

    I posted this comment to share some info which I think was missing on your article. This article looked biased and discriminating, as if WE, Call Center were no help at all for the country’s economy.

    If the point of this post was to reiterate that this profession is a ‘SUB’ then you better think again. Many of our teachers have tried this profession but most of them goes back and says ‘this is not for me’. This job requires more than just understanding and being able to speak English. You have to really zoom in to the detail before you compose this kind of article.

    Thank you.

  • Soft skills is acquired through experience in any industry as well problem solving and conflict resolution and dispute resolution. However commin sense however cannot be thought. I agree with u. Having to study to b a call centre agent is ridiculously stupid and not needed. Philz is currently the hotspot for call centres…market and industry is always changing. Unpredictable and u cannot relay on it forever…there is a trend emerging from india to phils and they have guestimated that by 2015 it will be singapore…but i doubt it as singapore has a thriving economy and corporation wouldnt b able to afford to relocate and outsource there. But who knows time will tell. I supposed filipinos should take advantage of this opportunity while they can 🙂

  • Used to be india…its no longer the case….australia signed a special work force agreement to transfer customer service centres or commonly know call centres to the philippines. It creates job and opportunity to the filipinos. Yes it is all about keeping the cost down for labour hire while still achieving an industry level of service. But those company are doing that to be profitable while maintaining competitive edge and helping the 3rd world countries economy. Have u heard of a company that doesnt wanna reduce cost and stay afloat. Its a strategic and logical moves.
    The author per above saying that the filipinos are being under appreciated and settling to be a call centre agent. Its true but irrational thinking. Its a job and opportunity that pays the bill. Would u say no to a job specially with the living condition in the philippines. Would u say no to a job that u wouldnt have to leave ur love ones behind to try ur luck overseas??i didnt think so. People make choices and sacrifices wether its career or life in general. We got to do what we’ve got to do to survive. Even if its being a c.c agent. Theres nothing wrong with it. Malinis at marangal na trabaho ang pagiging c.c agent. We can always do better than this. Im sure if the opportunity to be in the right proffession are available to the filipinos…they will grab it with both hands and without hesitation. So in conclusion for some people its a means to an end. So lets not make them feel bad being a c.c agent and blame big corporation of taking advantage of the filipinos. They get paid lower salary as the cost of living in phils is vastly different from australia or the u.s. Do u think that the company here that pay $45k here in oz plus or on bonus structure will give an equivalent to the workforce in the philz??its juz got to show u know so little about a topic u claim u know so well….

    • Its a job and opportunity that pays the bill. Would u say no to a job specially with the living condition in the philippines. Would u say no to a job that u wouldnt have to leave ur love ones behind to try ur luck overseas??i didnt think so.

      -pAG SURE DIRA! I WILL SAY NO! HAHA..Y? COMMON SENSE LNG ANG PAGPANGITA UG WORK…KUN BUGU KA..MAKITA JUD NIMO NGA WALAY WORK..THERE IS WORK EVERYWHERE..IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK TO..DONT TALK SO MUCH ENGLISH..KASI MAKABUGO NA SAMUT..INFACT THE ONES WHO SPEAK SO MUCH ALIEN LANGUAGE..HAHA..IM SPEAKING..K MGA KUMANG NA..GALIBUG NA UG SABUT SA YANG ENVIRONMENT..LOL..ANYWAY..DAGHAN UG WORK? YOU MEAN MU INCOME KA UG 40-100K PER MONTH? POSSIBLE NA XA..LESS WORK PA GANI..DAY JOB…IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK TO…THEN..KANA..DI NA KAILANGAN TA MAGDEBATE ANA..BUGO MAN KA OI.

    • dolphilippines

      the author is talking about the BSCT course. hindi po ito tungkol sa larangan ng mga “white people’s bitches”. ito ay tungkol sa kursong bachelor of science in call center technology at kung ano ang epekto nito ds kultura at kinabukasan ng bansa. duh?! you sound a bit insecure? hehehe. peace.

      • Taga DOL ka? klaru inutel nimo ug salary ah..utro sd ka buguk! haha…kaning mga bugok k gagmay kayu sweldo..hahah..samot naka taga DOL..hahah..insecure? palit sa ug Portia oi…ahaha

        • Ganyan ka ba talaga pag galit? nagsasalita sa ibang lingwahe? honestly, i don’t understand anything you just said…

  • That was quite an interesting topic! Polishing communication skills is not that difficult. All you have to do is read some materials about communications and of course ask the experts about it. No need to go to school again!!! Waste of money and effort!!! I dealt with so many people (face to face) and I learned a lot on that job!!! Customer service is a little bit difficult when you are dealing customer face to face. On the phone on the other hand, is very easy!!!

  • Ate Kim

    Amen and thank you!

  • Imma CSR.

  • thats good to know but then again what else is new. we obviously know this would come soon and now here it is.

  • I thought it was india