We’ve all been there –we suddenly can’t find our credit cards. Or maybe we would like to place an online order or need assistance with replacing a product under warranty. In any case, most all of these calls are answered by employees in a call center thousands of miles away.
Regardless of the situation, it’s always frustrating when the person on the other end speaks English with such a thick accent that we finally conclude they must be speaking some other language.
Many companies doing business in America use India for their call center hubs because of the availability of highly educated, inexpensive labor pools
and the ability to capitalize on other resource efficiencies, but that trend might be changing, according to this Global Post article
The New York Times
reported that in 2011, the number of call center representatives
working in India was surpassed by those residing in the Philippines. In fact, industry figures for the Philippines exceeded that of India by nearly 350,000 workers. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that the Filipino accent is easier on the American ear.
The Philippines has a culture very similar to the U.S. in that they were initially a U.S. colony. Indeed, one doesn’t have to look very hard to find families that even have close relatives residing in the states. Additionally, Filipinos listen to hip-hop music, eat fast food, and are just as intrigued by Hollywood as Americans.
Many Filipinos sound very Westernized and have grown up in a culture that supports customer service
; they tend to be very friendly, caring, and empathetic people by nature. Needless to say, these traits are all very conducive to a call center environment.
According to CNN, the industry there has grown to an $11 billion business, employing upwards of 600,000 people. Eppie Titong who serves as senior site director for one of the Philippines most bustling call centers, VXi says that the industry provides employment for most all families in the country.
Besides the accent, site supervisor, Audison “Ives” Tan Dejos, attributes call center success to familiarity with American culture, which makes conversation that much easier. VXi provides its employees, who are mostly college-educated, with courses detailing even more information about the Western people and way of life. In its classes, agents learn popular sayings and slang and are even taught about American government and currency.
Tan Dejos says that part of their job is learning to appropriately profile their customers each day. Agents must adapt their communication styles based on where the person is from, how old they are, and how they speak. For instance, those from New York speak more quickly and may require less conversation than someone calling from the South.
While India is working to provide more tech-friendly options for outsourcing, the Philippines promises to give the country a run for its money in terms of caller experience. Costs there are also very competitive, with most entry-level call center workers earning only $470 per month.
Check out this CNN video
to get an idea of just how well these agents can blend the American accent into their call center conversations – close enough to give U.S.-based centers a run for their money where clear communications is the key differentiator.
So, as it turns out, call center success has literally been right under our noses all along – that is, our voices!
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo