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Philippines Surpasses India as Call Center Destination of the World

TMCnews Featured Article

December 01, 2011

Philippines Surpasses India as Call Center Destination of the World

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The call center serves as an important interaction point between a company and consumers, yet customers aren’t always sure where their calls will end up when that toll-free number is dialed. According to a recent New York Times piece, that destination is increasingly more likely to be the Philippines.

The New York Times report highlighted a quiet revolution taking place in the call center space as the Philippines overtakes India as the prime location for call center outsourcing. This former U.S. colony has a large population of young individuals who speak only slightly accented English and are also fluent in American culture.

Industry officials cited by the New York Times suggest 400,000 Filipinos fill their evening hours interacting with American consumers for companies such as JPMorgan Chase, AT&T and Expedia (News - Alert). The jobs fulfilled in the Philippines have come from Europe, the U.S. and even India. By contrast, some 350,000 Indian call center agents field calls.

With a population one-tenth that of India, the Philippines officially overtook the larger country as the contact center destination of choice, according to Contact Center Association of the Philippines executive director, Jojo Uligan. This shift is due in large part to the maturation of the outsourcing business and a preference for American English.

India initial reign was the result of the trend to find and set up shop in countries that offered large English-speaking populations and low labor costs. India was dominant in both areas and companies rapidly navigated that direction. Executives in the industry now suggest the focus is on locations best suited for specific tasks. Software outsourcing, for instance, remains focused on the Indian call center industry.

Those assuming growth in the Philippines is driven by wage considerations should think again – Filipino agents in outsourced call centers tend to earn more than their Indian counterparts. Executives claim the extra cost is worth it as American consumers tend to find Filipinos easier to understand and use lingo similar to that of the U.S. public.

Some American businesses have been able to more readily respond to consumer complaints with their call centers in the Philippines as customers complained they could not understand Indian agents. Critics who suggest offshore call center outsourcing is sending too many jobs overseas as millions of Americans are still out of work aren’t likely to be satisfied by the shift toward the Philippines. The best move for companies is to evaluate their individual customer base and associated expectations.

Customers may have the final say with their dollars, however. While Delta Airlines moved call center operations back to the U.S. to appease angry customers demanding better English, the significant cost difference between U.S.-based agents and Philippines-based agents is sure to be passed along to the customer in higher pricing. At some point, consumers may be willing to put up with accented support representatives if it means deep discounts.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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