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By John Pastor, Conduit Global

One thing that distinguishes countries in the global economy is comparative advantage.  For those that remember their university economics classes, this denotes the idea that some jurisdictions (whether they be countries, regions or cities) are inherently stronger at particular things, and in a competitive market, this will work to their advantage.  After more than a decade and a half in the contact center sphere, it can be safely stated that one of the Philippines’ comparative advantages is customer care.  And, by all accounts, it is one that has proven to be enduring.

An ongoing advantage for the Philippines is time zones.  Usually those visiting cities in the Philippines are struck by the frenetic levels of activity taking place during the middle of the night.  It is not unreasonable to assume that this is principally due to the large numbers of contact centers servicing consumers in overseas.  Very few countries doing offshore contact center delivery can service North America on a 12-hour differential, while supporting end-users in New Zealand and Australia on roughly the same time-zone.  For the Anglosphere, in 2016 this remains a key driver for locating contact centers in the Philippines

Affinity also remains as much as an advantage today as it did in the late 1990s.  One of the things that differentiates the Philippines is the cultural familiarity that agents have with those end-users whom they are supporting; agents in the Philippines enjoy many of the same elements of popular culture as consumers in locations as diverse as Melbourne, Miami and Manchester.  Commercial understanding of western markets is also an advantage found in the Philippines. Given the level of western-brand penetration in that country, agents are likely to have first-hand knowledge of the products/services that they are supporting.  When combined with excellent on-the-ground English language skills, these elements have paid dividends in helping generate the warmth, empathy and familiarity needed to drive high levels of customer experience.

However, one area of strength that has emerged in the Philippines over the past decade is multichannel capabilities.  According to InternetLiveStats.com, the proportion of Filipinos online has grown from 29% in 2011 to 43% in 2016 (this is well above the APAC average, which is estimated to be approximately 36%).  This is reflected in the enthusiasm with which young Filipinos have embraced mobile technology, social networks and instant messaging. It is also an advantage that this demographic brings to the table in servicing the growing numbers of consumers in North America, the UK and Australia/New Zealand, who are choosing to interact using non-voice channels.

Undoubtedly, there is superb service being delivered to consumers in major demand markets from other offshore centers in Asia-Pacific and beyond.  But, it is also clear that while the inherent value those initial trailblazing contact center investors found in the Philippines during the late 1990s remains intact, it has been enhanced by the progressive attitude among that country’s agents toward internet-based communications, which can leveraged by enterprises aiming to provide a full portfolio of voice and non-voice options to consumers.

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