Corporate News

Non-voice business services cited as growth opportunity

Posted on March 19, 2012

MORE NON-VOICE outsourcing firms could set up shop in the Philippines in the near-term but the industry will have to address challenges in the recruitment and retention of qualified agents to support growth, the regional head of a global firm said last week.

“The Philippines is certainly ready for non-voice services,� David Rizzo, the president for the Asia-Pacific arm of business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Teleperformance said in a forum.

“It is already demonstrating its capability for non-voice activities, be it information technology engineering service offering support, animation, human resources and knowledge process outsourcing,� he added.

He noted that the increase in non-voice activity would allow the country to capture a bigger share of the global outsourcing industry.

“A growth in non-voice activity would help the Philippines grab a bigger share of the global outsourcing and offshoring industry that research company Everest Group estimates to expand up to $280 billion this year,� he added.

According to Mr. Rizzo, the Philippines last year overtook India as leader in call-center services in revenue and employment.

Everest Group estimated the Philippines’ contact services to have earned $7.38 billion in exports last year, surpassing India’s $7 billion. The Philippines’ call centers employ about half a million, compared to India’s 350,000, he said.

However, India’s BPO industry still led the market with nearly $15 billion in income, versus the Philippines’ $9 billion.

The Business Process Association of the Philippines, a local industry group, aims to double the country’s revenue and number of seats by 2016.

Mr. Rizzo noted however that recruitment and retention of qualified contact agents remained to be the toughest hurdles for BPO companies.

“There are many challenges in our business, but there is certainly none that rivals the challenge of the available labor supply,� he said.

“It is becoming more and more critical to focus on retention initiative to ensure that you are not having to replace your own employment pool while growing at the same time,� he added.

Mr. Rizzo said there are various reasons behind the high employee turnover in the BPO industry.

“The popular ones are lack of appetite for overnight work. People exit the industry because they can’t work at night,� he said.

“Also, people exit the industry because the job does not meet their expectation. That might be because it is either too technical or it is too challenging,� he said, adding that agents are sometimes forced to quit their jobs due to customers that are hard to deal with.

To cope, companies are advised to invest in the employees further. “That is the challenge. [We must] create the best possible experience for our people, [through] the amenities and employee engagement activities...� he said. -- Cliff Harvey C. Venzon