Contact center growth noted due to ‘trends’

Posted on September 19, 2012

THE LOCAL contact center industry has accelerated its revenue target for this year following "first semester trends" driven by growth in the global market and the country’s reputation as the top destination for the voice outsourcing sector, an official said yesterday.

The industry now targets $8.4 billion in revenues for this year, 18.30% higher than the $7.1 billion generated last year, Benedict C. Hernandez, chief executive of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said in a presentation at International Contact Center Conference Expo 2012.

Mr. Hernandez said the initial projection earlier this year was 15% growth but the outlook was hiked following the "first semester trends" showed by firms in a CCAP survey conducted last month. He declined to elaborate the industry’s revenue in the first half of the year.

"If it’s voice, it’s got to be the Philippines, that’s the reputation that we have built," he said.

The industry is also looking at generating 493,000 jobs for this year, 18.51% up from 416,000 recorded last year.

In 2011, the call center industry grew by 15.24% from $6.15 billion revenues in 2010. Mr. Hernandez went on to reiterate that the sector is looking to generate 862,000 jobs and $14.7 billion in revenues by 2016 given a "conservative" 15% annual growth.

He also reported improvements in the hiring and attrition rates of call center companies.

Hiring rate improved to 8.4% in the first half from 6.5% last year due to the government’s technical assistance while attrition rate dropped to 5.4% from 5.5% year-on-year.

In the same conference, other speakers said that the industry should invest in technologies that could integrate voice and non-voice channels.

Felix Leong, regional manager for contact center solutions of business solution firm Avaya, said that companies should consider tapping the "cloud" technology to improve customer services.

"One of the key things is that larger enterprises are really leveraging on cloud, they are willing to pay to get good access for good cloud services," Mr. Leong said during the plenary session, "The Future of Technology."

This comes as customers are also using other non-voice channels in airing their concerns with the advent of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

"It is not just about voice anymore, the contact centers must cater to other channels. Customers are willing to use other channels such as e-mail and social media, [so] customer services should cater to all these channels," Mr. Leong added.

The advent of social media also saw the increase in the number of interactions among people, making the adoption of advanced technology more pressing.

"Companies will have to look at mobile applications and integrate these in the social media platforms since we have to provide holistic services to customers," Lito Tayag, country managing director of business processing outsourcing firm Accenture said.

"What we need to do is create an infrastructure that has the ability to manage different types of interaction," Sherie Ng, managing director of business solutions provider NICE Systems said.

Meanwhile, another speaker said that companies should be familiar with their present technology infrastructure while adopting other technologies. "Every organization has their own internal infrastructure; we are encouraging customers to take it rather than shifting [away from] their existing infrastructure and making that redundant," Tovia Va’aelua, business group lead of Microsoft Philippine’s Office Division, said.

"It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. It should be a mix of old and new infrastructure," he added, noting that flexibility in terms of technology could help firms cope with natural disasters that could possibly shut down the Internet and affect cloud technology.