Convergys sees shift in BPO trend


The Philippines’ contact center industry must invest more in training and technology if it is to keep its leading position in the sector, according to global business process outsourcing giant Convergys.

Speaking to the media last week, Convergys president and CEO Andrea Ayers said transactions being handled by contact centers around the world were growing in complexity, thanks in part to the increased use of mobile devices.

“The industry is changing so people are able to do more self service than they could three to five years ago,” she said during the visit to the Philippines to mark Convergys’ 10th year in the country.

“More people are able to do things on the Web for themselves,” she added.

Because more transactions can now be done online on a self-service basis, clients  who manage to reach contact center agents “are the ones that really require help,” she said.

The advent of this trend, she explained, demands that contact centers be able to keep up with the evolving technology and arm their employees with the latest tools and skills.

The Philippines is the world leader in the contact center segment of the global BPO industry, employing over 700,000 agents nationwide.

Convergys’ ability to maintain its lead in this sector, she said “depends on our ability to invest in up-front training to allow our people to be ahead of that curve, and make sure that we can handle the complexity.”

Despite the emerging global shift toward more technology-aided transactions, she predicted that the need for contact center agents would continue to grow.

“In fact, we see that the call handle times are longer. We end up needing more agents to handle the complexity,” Ayers said.

With over 35,000 agents working round the clock in 21 offices nationwide, Convergys said it was the country’s “largest private employer.”

It will open its 22nd call center site in Davao City this September.

Ayers said she was very pleased with the quality of service provided by Convergys employees based in the Philippines, due to a large degree to the country’s large English-speaking population and the ready supply of talent that the BPO industry could tap.

“The superior service delivered by our team here and around the globe enables us to sustain growth and build stronger relationships with existing and new clients,” she said. “As an industry leader, this allows us to lead in job creation and in providing opportunities for people to grow.”

Company officials also noted that the firm’s strong culture had allowed them to contain the industry-wide problem of talent poaching, high employee turnover rates and the resulting wage inflation phenomenon.

Because of this, over 80 percent of Convergys’ leaders are “home grown” talent, many of whom started as call center agents. Among its employees are returning overseas Filipino workers and qualified senior citizens and retirees.

Convergys also said that it supports efforts to improve the country’s employable talent pool through its near-hire training. In just three months of running this program, close to 700 have been trained and 343 have already found employment in the company.

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  • Manong Johnny

    The increasing complexity in the BPO industry comes in two ways. (1) More channels to service as opposed to the traditional phone calls, web chat and email. (2) More niche areas and hyper-specializations. To be sure, this will primarily affect outsourced operations and not the captive operations. Captive operations are those offshore IT / operations centers set up by foreign banks, consultancy services and others that cater mainly to internal clients and customers. For outsourced operations such as those handled by Convergys and Teletech more training is needed indeed. As mobile apps and mobile transactions grow, the simpler transactions will be further simplified thereby reducing the need for assistance. Logically, that should reduce the call volume. In the same vein, the growing complexity of offerings on mobile platform will require longer handling time by tech support or customer care support. Hence, the lengthening of handling time will balance out whatever gains achieved in the reduction of call volume or transaction volume for that matter. Another complexity that I hope this government will focus on are those related to financial services. I hope this administration will promote more CFAs, chartered accountants and the like as these are high in the value chain and therefore high-paying jobs that can rival those in Singapore or Hong Kong. A pitfall that the local BPO industry must avoid is over-reliance on non-voice transactions, which can be easily moved to Vietnam or China. The automation and simplification of customer support transactions through technology are realities of life in the BPO industry. Our proficiency in English alone is no guarantee for survival. Overall, the Philippine BPO industry is able to chug along quite independently from any government help and in spite of the government’s inability to stave off an artificially stronger currency. I hope this administration will take a more active role in helping the BPO industry in the remaining three years.

  • Kristoffer Atienza

    I don’t get the report — so we need more training for current BPO employees because every one in the world is shifting to mobile computing but then again in what area does it say in the interview that qualifies more training? In the mobile platform or in those who really need help but we don’t know what that “help” means. Confusing and frustrating article. It’s either article contained too much edit or it is badly written — either way the article’s point lost its meaning. Sigh.

    • Iggy Ramirez

      You know, it’s just another vague report with no substance to keep Convergys in the limelight.

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