The future of call centre outsourcing to the Philippines

by Joseph K. Clark

There’s no question that the BPO industry in the Philippines has taken off in the last few decades – contributing over 30 billion USD to the world economy annually and employing over 1.2 million Filipinos. Due to the sector’s mutual contribution to Western companies by providing high-quality products and services at a low price and to the Philippines’ economy by creating ten thousand jobs annually, it is projected to grow exponentially over the next decade. BPO companies in the Philippines offer various services on both fronts- and back-office work. But while outsourcing generally conjures up images of telemarketing, customer support, and IT technical assistance, call centers in the Philippines have now branched out to more creative and technically skilled workers. Many BPO employees are well-versed in IT, data analytics, finance and accounting, and more essential skills in today’s market. With so much to offer, here’s what the future of outsourcing services in the Philippines might look like.

One of the biggest changes currently impacting the market is the use of artificial intelligence. In the early 2010s, the advent of AI was seen by economic forecasters and investors alike as the end of the outsourcing industry. Human-operated call centers were slowly replaced by robot assistants. But as any customer who has had a frustratingly long ‘conversation’ with one of these AIs can tell you, nothing beats a real human being on the other end of the line. Instead of completely replacing human operators with AI, call center outsourcing providers in the Philippines have trained their employees to work with AI. While chatbots field calls from hundreds of customers daily, human employees can be on standby to answer more specific questions and offer technical assistance. This allows a single employee to efficiently and accurately handle customer complaints and issues with ease. What used to be overwhelming work for one call center agent in the early 2000s can now be taken by working with artificial intelligence. In this way, the Philippines’ BPO industry has recognized that the correct response to the AI revolution is not a competition but cooperation.

Philippines

The second large change to the industry comes from more specialized roles for BPO employees. As more countries enter the outsourcing sector, they will likely offer services in repetitive jobs that require minimal training but are labor-intensive – things like data entry or data mining. Thus, any country that wishes to thrive in this market must begin diversifying its BPO labor force and investing in employee education. This is something the Philippines has already done for years. Workers at contact centers in the Philippines are well-educated young professionals, many of whom have degrees from top universities in business, technology, and design. Thus, companies can be secure in the knowledge that the work they send to the Philippines will always be high-quality. What’s more, creative and technical work that often had to be completed in-house can now also be outsourced, as more and more BPO workers in the Philippines work in software development, animation, and even artificial intelligence creation.

In the coming years, it is also likely that the BPO market will continue to offer more specialized services, reasonable in virtual healthcare and programming, and better integrate new artificial intelligence technologies. These are key ways that the Philippines’ BPO sector will continue to out-compete new players in the industry. And while it remains to be seen what other countries will get involved in such a robust field, there’s no question that the Philippines will continue to be a titan of the industry.

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