I just returned from Manila where I was helping launch our newest location – Talegent Philippines and wow! I knew the Philippines was a major hub for contact centres. We opened there in large part to market our contact centre solution. But the dynamism of the Philippine contact centre and BPO (business process outsourcing) industry is difficult to appreciate until you see it for yourself.
From my hotel window I could see several of the massive warehouse buildings housing contact centre operations—and watch each morning as bus after bus discharged crowds of workers from Manila as well as the outlying towns. In fact, the Philippines has overtaken India as contact centre to the world. Despite the fact that India’s labor prices are somewhat lower, Filipinos are extremely western-oriented and the Philippines itself is the third largest English-speaking nation in the world. And, as stated by Benedict Hernandez, president of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines in a recent article, “Clients place a premium on our competitive advantage on language, affinity to Western culture and the authentic desire to provide exceptional service.”
The stats speak for themselves. The Philippines’ contact centre industry is up 18% over last year, employs nearly a million workers, and posted over $US163 billion. And that double digit growth is expected to continue!
All that energy in the space poses unique challenges for contact centre employers and has interesting implications for our business of talent measurement.
A major trend I learned from recruiters there was the increasing complexity of the contact centre roles. Like everywhere else, contact centre staff were being called upon to do more than just answer phones and expected to have greater knowledge and analytic skills so they could be more effective at problem solving. So employers need to look beyond past experience as a requirement for hiring and consider candidates’ ability to perform a wider range of tasks. Fortunately, we were able to show them how our online assessment solutions could accurately predict performance for changing job roles.
And talk about competing for talent! Every contact centre and BPO is hiring and the competition for talent is fierce. And employers want to move unbelievably fast. The companies I spoke to were looking to us to enable them to perform an assessment in the morning, and based on those results make an offer in the afternoon—before the candidate had a chance to leave the building and maybe call on another employer down the street!
Remarkably I found that despite the high volumes of candidates needing to be processed, most employers still rely on traditional phone screening—particularly because many job applicants live out in the provinces and it’s expensive to bring them in. They were rather amazed to see that we could screen candidates faster and more accurately with assessment, and there was a lot of interest in our video interview screening solution as well.
To sum it all up, what I saw in the Philippines was an intense need to get to the best talent first, measure talent’s ability to perform in changing job roles, and being able to efficiently measure talent across distance. Not so different than what our Australian and New Zealand contact centre clients are looking to do. It’s a small world after all!
Me at the grand kick-off of Talegent Philippines!