If the experience of the Philippines is any gauge, success in the business process outsourcing or BPO industry is not only a question of language -- mostly American English, according to market demand -- but is also and mainly a matter of people. It is the investment in linguistically adept, culturally adaptive, skilled and patient front liners that spells the difference. In partnership with GLOBE, we sought to answer the question: What are call center agents like, in their daily life? Herewith, from Quezon City and Olongapo and Davao, from Legazpi and Cebu, are five stories.
The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector remains one of the fastest growing industries in the Philippines over the past decade with over a million in the workforce at the end of 2014.
At 100,000 employees, Cebu’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is the largest outside Metro Manila.
DAVAO CITY—An hour or two after midnight, the once obscure and dead-end street of Jose Abad Santos suddenly comes alive: Workers on the graveyard shift stream out of the Sutherland building and into the sari-sari stores lining the sodium-lighted street. They are on their “lunch break.”
LEGAZPI CITY—When people talk of Albay, what immediately comes to mind is majestic Mayon Volcano. Then food: “Bicol express,” pinangat or laing, sili ice cream and the iconic pili nut cooked every which way.
“We are not just call center agents,” says Jeremy Castro, dismissing the notion that all it takes is an American accent to make it in the Philippines' thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
I am Mark "Mak" Navarez, 30, and I’ve been a call center agent for nine years now. I consider myself as a “call center hopper” because I hop from one call center to another. In the past nine years I have worked for at least seven Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies in Manila and in Subic Bay Freeport.
For Ann G. Marbella, returning to Albay and opting for lower pay as a call center agent was the wisest decision she ever made.
It’s 9pm and I’m awake. It felt like it was just a few minutes ago when I breathed a sigh of relief that the hot afternoon sun had disappeared and I can rest in the darkness and coolness of the night. Everyone is busy preparing to sleep but I am busy preparing for a long night ahead, in sync with my predominantly North America-based customers who are just beginning their day.
“Once a call center agent, always a call center agent,” says Michelle Alvarado, as she grabs a stool at a sari-sari (convenience) store across from the Sutherland Global Services building in Davao City, two or three hours before the start of her graveyard shift.