BPO industry sustains ‘sunshine industry’ luster

The evolving global outsourcing landscape—now trending toward the experience-first model—gives an adaptable and talent-laden destination like the Philippines the opportunity to sustain the growth of its business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Citing the white paper titled “Philippines at the Helm of Delivering Customer Experience of the Future,” Everest Group Global Sourcing Partner H Karthik said the country has a “unique opportunity” to adapt, innovate and influence the change.

With this—and even in the shift from an arbitrage-first to an experience-first model—the BPO’s “sunshine industry” title is never in danger.

“This will propel the Philippines to be at the helm of shaping future customer experience,” Karthik noted in a conference organized recently by the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP).

Fulfilling future needs

HEEDING the call of the times, contact centers in the country have already started meeting the changing requirements amid a shift in operational focus to customer experience.

This is by way of upgrading their capabilities, the global consulting and research firm in the research pointed out.

Per the study on the current conditions of Philippine-based contact centers, up to a third of the agents in best-in-class centers have already been trained to acquire multichannel expertise.

It was found out that robotic process automation (RPA) solutions are being implemented at present.

For instance, rule-based chatbots are now used for simple business processes and customer queries.

Industry-wide, there is a growing focus and investment on analytics for customer experience delivery.

Still, the level of adoption of analytics for operational excellence remains higher.

As regards the global trends, locally based call centers are just starting to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and assisted automation solutions.

What’s more, the study bared that companies are actively redesigning their recruitment and training strategies to focus more on multichannel capabilities and technical skills.

Competent local talents

WHILE technology innovation is pivotal in upholding customer experience, high-skilled agents will keep on bringing the required services to clients on the back end.

“The contact-center industry in the Philippines is rapidly evolving to meet the requirements of customer-experience delivery, and will continue to have a strong leading value proposition,” Karthik said.

Customer experience, he said, will remain heavily dependent on high-quality talent with high empathy skills.

“And the Philippines is the leading provider of such talent,” Karthik said. He attributed this to the young population in the country—23 years of age on the average.

“It forms the perfect bedrock for serving the millennial customers,” Karthik said.

Industry figures show that the Philippine contact-center industry now employs more than 800,000 professionals.

Strengthening

BUT even if the Philippine contact-center industry constantly grows, embraces next-generation solutions and adapts and institutes skills-upgrade of its agents, it has to strengthen further its capabilities.

Karthik said a sustained effort is needed to keep the country’s leading position in the voice sector.

This, he emphasized, is the way to shape the future of call-center services, not just locally, but globally as well.

The Everest Group global sourcing partner cited that companies must invest significantly in building technology and talent for automation, AI and analytics.

“At the same time, they also need to develop agent skills for delivering superior omnichannel experiences,” he added.

Sustaining leadership

AMID the looming slowdown in BPO industry’s growth, the Philippines is expected to continue its leading position globally, especially in the voice sector.

This is how bullish CCAP Chairman Benedict Hernandez is on the industry’s ability to remain as a leader when it comes to delivering superior customer experience.

“Our primary industry agenda is to keep that leading edge position globally,” he said.

Proof of the positive industry outlook, he cited, was this year’s Contact Islands Conference that gathered top players and thinkers worldwide to discuss how the local BPO community, particularly the contact-center sector, will “continue to invest in both technology and in our people, who already stand out globally in services, to take customer experience to a whole new level.”

The Philippines continues to be among the top nations where contact-center services are outsourced. In fact last year, the local BPO industry generated $13 billion in export revenues.

Although it enjoyed a 17-percent hike in the past six years, it’s still poised to keep a steady annual growth rate of about 8 percent or 9 percent and hit $20 billion by 2022.

Under the BPO industry’s 2022 road map, this sector is seen to generate revenues of $38.9 billion by end-2022, from a six-year revenue of $25 billion until 2016.

Image Credits: Texelart | Dreamstime

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