When a customer calls a call center, more likely than not it is to resolve an issue with a product or service the company is offering. Generally this is a time in which the consumer is frustrated and would like to resolve the problem in the most efficient way possible. If he or she is not able to fully understand what the call center agent is saying because of a heavy accent, that level of frustration will likely increase, resulting in a negative experience which can cost the company a valuable customer.
This very point was proven by a recent joint study conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and KPMG, which revealed that one of the reasons the Philippines has been acquiring 70 percent of all incremental voice and call center business from India is because of the neutral English accent in which Filipinos speak.
Although the study revealed several different reasons for India losing the big lead it had in the past, the educated population of the Philippines is one of the reasons even Indian BPO companies are migrating to that country.
International organizations are also looking to Eastern Europe, several native speaking African countries, the Caribbean and Central America. As businesses become more customer centric and they're looking to interact with call center agents with video, with SMS and online, they have to be more educated and flexible to manage this technology.
Another reason companies are looking at other destinations is the cost of doing business in India. While in the past it provided the lowest cost destination, today there are other countries providing better service, technology and price points. The same study suggests BPO companies can reduce operating costs by up to 30 percent by moving to other cities within India in which cost differentials can be up to 15 percent for non-voice processes in more than 20 percent for voice processes.
"It is estimated that in the ongoing decade India might lose about $30 billion in terms of foreign exchange earnings to Philippines which has become the top destination for Indian investors, thus the need to reduce costs and make operations leaner is increasingly becoming significant across the BPO industry," said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the study.
Rawat also mentioned the study in describing the difference between the employable populations available in both countries. He said in India only 10 percent of the graduates are qualified to work in call centers, while in the Philippines 30 percent of the graduates are employable. This means companies in India have to spend more time and resources in training their recruits to qualify for the call center jobs.
"Employees in Philippine call centers speak English fluently with a neutral accent which is what customers look for and that is something missing in Indian accents and that is a prime reason why BPO business is thriving in that country," Rawat added.
This has resulted in the 2016 forecast for the BPO industry hitting revenues of up to $25 billion, accounting for close to 10 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and employing around 4.5 million Filipinos.