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Philippines Call Centers Overtake India

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the help-is-just-a-hemisphere-away dept.

Businesses 165

New submitter ajitk writes "This year, call centers in the Philippines employed 50,000 more people than those in India. From the New York Times article: 'More Filipinos — about 400,000 — than Indians now spend their nights talking to mostly American consumers, industry officials said, as companies like AT&T, JPMorgan Chase and Expedia have hired call centers here, or built their own. ... Nevertheless, the financial benefits of outsourcing remain strong enough that the call center business is growing at 25 to 30 percent a year here in the Philippines, compared to 10 to 15 percent in India. In spite of its recent growth, the Philippines is a much smaller destination for outsourcing more broadly — India earns about 10 times as much revenue from outsourcing.'"

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*SIGH* (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175376)

And your odds of talking someone that actually understands what you're saying get so much worse.

Re:*SIGH* (5, Insightful)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175502)

I usually find the problem to be in the other direction and not necessarily due to foreign accents. The universal recipe for a support centre is:
* find the cheapest voip provider
* find the cheapest headsets
* find people who claim to speak engrish/taglish/mangrish
* make them memorise 100 technical questions/answers and 1000 salespitches for additional services
* pay them 2 peanuts a month (to make them really enthusiastic)

Re:*SIGH* (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175662)

I've certainly caught some phone drones who were either having a bad day, or were plain assholes; but overwhelmingly I find it hard to blame them, rather than the people behind them(who, unfortunately, I have no way of screaming obscenities at...)

Universally, their English is substantially better than my whatever-it-is-they-speak-there, and given that it is entirely unexpected in low-end phone support for the support guy to have nothing but the script he was given(ie. no access to the product to poke at, much less in the configuration I'm calling about) a fair amount of cluelessness is understandable.

Now, as for the people with actual decision-making power who decided that this flavor of tech support is good enough, may they be doomed to transcribe the entire library of babel, twice over, while a guy with an incomprehensible accent on the far end of a tin-cans-and-string VOIP link bellows it one character at a time in an ideosyncratic variant of the NATO phonetic alphabet...

Re:*SIGH* (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176014)

* make them memorise 100 technical questions/answers

Memorize? Scripts, scripts and more scripts. First line support is like the oral version of the diagnostic scripts for people too lazy to try reading or following them. A lot of the first line callers and first line support staff deserve each other...

Re:*SIGH* (4, Insightful)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175746)

Sorry, I have to disagree. From my experience, the enunciation from those who speak Tagalog as a native language and ESL for tech support is much easier to understand. As well, (again, only within my personal experience) I found the Manilla call centers more willing to go the extra mile to resolve the problem at hand, even if it requires a call back from a more experience operator. It's not just scripting, they have people with intimate knowledge of the products. My two cents.

Curse of the british hahaha (4, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175382)

They used india as a colony, and while trying to inject their culture and keep indians occupied by making school kids memorize logarithmic tables (yes they really did that back in the earlier centuries), they also taught them english.

and now india is not only becoming a superpower, but taking entire industries away from angloamerican sphere. talk about what goes around comes around.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175456)

Oh no, please don't let India take our customer phone support industry! So many American kids grew up wanting to tell people how to reset their wireless routers for minimum wage and now those dreams have been dashed.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175480)

Tell that to the 8-10% of the unemployed in your country.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175510)

8-10% official. up to 25% non-permanently employed, part timers, questionables this that.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175996)

You think it's funny but...

Several of my friends and I got into the American tech industry by answering the phones. We then worked our way up. If we were starting out today, we'd have to start somewhere else, because the path we took into living wage jobs has been moved overseas.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (4, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176178)

You know, you hit the nail on the head. I have 21 years with my company and I personally started on a help line for Point Of Sale equipment in the Credit Card dept (proprietary card), moved from there to LAN administrator, and on to programming and system images. That POS help line? It is in Manila now. The Credit Card department? Outsourced. Oh, there is still a card with our company name on it. It just isn't handled at all by our company anymore. I wouldn't have even been able to start with the company today without moving overseas and working for peanuts. Low Cost Geography they euphemistically call it. In the same way those of us who are technical experts in the design departments no longer have any internal source to draw on for new hires. The lower end jobs where the best of the workers could have moved up are all overseas. The middle of the road jobs are mostly gone too. It's only the top end design groups that are left in the US. And we have nobody to pull from when folks retire, switch jobs, or get laid off. We supposedly hire from colleges, but those that come in are woefully unprepared. They would have been fine after spending a couple of years in those middle tier jobs - but they just don't cut it for the ones where you need a lot of experience. They will someday, but not right away. It makes long term succession planning for your group more a "rob from Peter to pay Paul" game of musical chairs where you try to poach from other groups.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175566)

Err, what goes around comes around would only be appropriate if it was a British commonwealth that was being affected, not another nation that rejected British rule.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175664)

The Philippines were an American colony, so it still works.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175684)

Na, we really know what the OP meant... the darkies are getting one up on whitey.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175808)

usa has almost taken over entire procedure of angloamerican colonialism, starting with the 'white fleet' at the turn of the century. not that it was not turning americas into its own garden before that though

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176174)

India is becoming a superpower?

Yeah, in the same way China is a first world country. I'd be surprised if people in India (or China) get to live like they do in a "superpower" country within the next 50 years at best. And I mean on a widespread scale, not just for the ultra wealthy in a few select cities or provinces.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176264)

Yeah, living on credit cards and mortgages is the finest way to live. Everyone should agree.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176254)

As opposed to what, some other language becoming the world language? As little as 20 years ago, knowing English was not that important. "Long distance calls" was something freakishly expensive, air travel fairly exotic and expensive, finding an English-language newspaper was only in specialty shops mostly for foreigners living abroad. Sure, for some limited fields in international trade, science or technology it could be important but in general it was not, which is why nobody speaks Latin anymore. People learned the languages of their bordering countries as that was what would get most use of.

With the Internet, it's become much more useful to know a "world language" and English has a pretty good head start. Granted the Internet is older but WWW didn't arrive until 1990 and it didn't grow big until the dotcom days. Not just for the job opportunities but because you actually can read international news, you can read the English Wikipedia - which is by far the biggest and best, you can talk to people all over the world cheaply and easily. With it, international trade and collaboration has exploded as people can actually work in distributed teams with email, video-conferencing, common source repositories and so on. The advantages are so big it'd happen some way.

In the short run, yes of course removing the language barriers are disadvantageous to some, but in the long run it's a huge benefit to mankind if we can collaborate as one. Languages have been sort of a natural protectionism, shielding us from international competition. What we in the west is really getting a taste of is the free market. And the US got the least reason of all to complain about that.

Re:Curse of the british hahaha (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176594)

There's nothing wrong with memorizing logarithmic tables. Logarithms are extremely useful for converting multiplication/division (hard) into addition/subtraction (easier). What, you think in earlier centuries, they should have just given indian kids a battery powered pocket calculator?

Legal liabilty (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175388)

We need legislation that makes any company that uses overseas call centers - especially banks and credit bureaus - 100% liable for identity theft if it's from those centers - I don't what the circumstances.

Yeah, I know it won't happen: Congress is owned by the banks.

Re:Legal liabilty (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175404)

some times the people there don't even know what you are talking about some times it's the scripts and metrics that make identity theft even bigger.

Re:Legal liabilty (2)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175988)

What makes you think someone at an overseas call center is more likely to steal your identity than someone in the US?

Disclaimer: I work for a call center in a country other than the US.

My experience with Philippines (1)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175410)

I had several colleagues from Philippines back in 1999 - 2000 and they spoke/wrote excellent English and were very nice people in my opinion.

Re:My experience with Philippines (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175448)

I work with a number of Filipinos on a daily basis - some of them are quite fluent, others less so.

The times I have worked with Philippines-based call centers (Adobe, I'm looking at YOU you slimy parthogenic mutant spawn of a perverted invertebrate) between the poor connection, the very limited knowledge that the person had and the accent, I had a very, very unpleasant experience. The employees were, however, unfailingly polite.

It's not so much the language barrier, although at times that is a problem - it's the whole concept of a complex, poorly thought out, poorly executed process that makes my blood pressure go up every time I even think about calling.

Which may be exactly how they planned it.

Re:My experience with Philippines (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175534)

I had a terrible experience with a Phillppines-based call center. My dad had purchased one of the HP laptops with the faulty Nvidia graphics chips, but is not techsavvy so he didn't know about it until I looked at it a month after its warranty had expired.

The short story is that they were rude and wouldn't help, so it was escalated to the supervisor (who had to walk over to the phone that the tech was using), and he was doubly rude. The best he was willing to do was sell me a new motherboard, which would be 250-300 dollars for something that was HP's fault. Both of us were becoming more and more belligerent, until I gave up and told him, "Fuck you, maganda [Tagalog for 'pretty lady'], you and your call center are all pond scum."

Domestically, I find that Phillipinos are great to work with as long as they are not a demographically dominating majority because of their tendency to be fervently strict, hateful, and judgemental Christians.

Re:My experience with Philippines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38177458)

Whoa... Not my experience all dude... You've got issues.

Re:My experience with Philippines (1, Offtopic)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175544)

My ex-housemate was a call center 'expert'. He got sent to the Phillipines to set up 2 different call centers. He told me that the employees he got had generally better English than most un- or under- educated UK, US and Australian employees (albeit with a slight accent). He said that they were a pleasure to work with, their English was well spoken, the work ethic was good, and that his only problem with Phillipinos was that he was never sure of the gender of the ones that he was trying to sleep with. :)

Re:My experience with Philippines (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175620)

I've been down-voted for this already? Seriously? Apart from the last part of my post, I wasn't being facetious; and it was a relayed opinion from someone who has a lot of experience in this particular area.

Re:My experience with Philippines (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175652)

Actually, thinking about it... it's understandable. Everyone hates call center managers and everyone associated with them, guilt by association. :)

Re:My experience with Philippines (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176418)

there is an ugly, unfair, and grotesque association between southeast asia and sex workers

"Phillipinos was that he was never sure of the gender of the ones that he was trying to sleep with. :)"

you are indulging in crudeness as if it were harmless. don't lightly transgress against insults to universal human dignity, it will earn you nothing but grief

Re:My experience with Philippines (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176482)

Actually their English(well at least the English of a certain percentage of the population) is so good that the Japanese English conversation industry is starting to outsource teaching jobs to the Philippines. You can do a Skype lesson with someone in the Philippines for less than 1/3 what it would cost to do a face-to-face lesson with a native speaker in Japan.

Re:My experience with Philippines (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177402)

They're not doing it because it's good. They're doing it because it's cheap. It's the same reason Koreans do it. It's much cheaper to go stay 3 months in the Philippines than North America. I've got several students who learned from Filipinos at some point and not a single one found it to be a good experience.

You're talking about business decisions. Not really about quality.

The average Filipino doesn't really seem to speak English that well either. College graduates are one thing, but of all the Filipinos I've met in Korea, their English has been terrible to mediocre at best. I've only met one that I could have a sustained conversation with and their grammar and vocabulary choice was still extremely odd at times. But its their official language right? At times it reminds me of the Acadians who claim to be bilingual in Canada, yet you couldn't understand them in English if you had the patience of Job.

I'm trying to figure this out (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175432)

The Phillipines employ more people in call centers than India.

Yet India earns 10 times as much in outsourcing.

How can that be?

AHA! I guess they mean that Indians are doing other stuff than answering the phone, like developing, looking at xrays, etc.

(Reminds me of the old joke where a kid is the son of a doctor, but the doctor is not his father. The doctor is his mother.)

Re:I'm trying to figure this out (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175518)

The Phillipines employ more people in call centers than India.

Yet India earns 10 times as much in outsourcing.

How can that be?

From the headline you never read, never mind TFA, "This year, call centers in the Philippines employed 50,000 more people than those in India."

Re:I'm trying to figure this out (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175552)

Additionally, at least in my experience, Filipinos get paid less than Indians for the same work.

Underwater cable (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175450)

I was a guest at Eastern Telecom's company beach resort in the northern part of country the some 15 years ago. As I waded into the nice surf, I snagged my foot on a cable.

"That's the country's only cable link to the outside world... goes to Hong Kong," explained one of the company guys.

I hope things are better now.

Re:Underwater cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176322)

They wanted to make sure the cable was intact, and made it look like you were on a leisure trip. Expenses paid for their staff as well. Mission accomplished, wouldn't you say?

"No, communication lines held steady and no disruptions, sir. Yes sir, we've found our cable. He almost tripped on it..."

in before the idiots (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175460)

1. The USA is popular in the Philippines. So be nice to Filipinos. Saying lame jokes about sex tourism and mixing "f"s and "p"s just makes you an asshole, and continues the worst stereotypical impressions of ugly Americans abroad. Be nice or shut the fuck up.

2. Those working in the call centers will usually speak perfect idiomatic American English. No Taglish (Tagalog and English) or "promdi" ("from the province").

2. If you sense the slight Filipino accent, say "mabuhay" (hello) and "salamat" (thank you). It will be sly and appreciated, and you'll probably get better help.

4. If you don't like the idea of jobs going to Filipinos that should go to Americans, then point your anger at the American Corporation who moved the call center there, not the person on the phone, they didn't make the decision.

And then finally, point your anger at yourself: Americans will get expensive degrees in French poetry, then work at McDonalds with hefty student loans. Filipinos will major in nursing, get fast tracked to entry to the USA, get a signing bonus and a fabulous salary and the chance to work wherever they want. Because there is a shortage of nurses in the USA. Because Americans don't want to touch bedpans.

The enemy is yourself and your bad attitude, not the hardworking and the good people from the Philippines.

Now bring in the typical, inevitable, ugly American stupidity in the comments.

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175498)

Now that is hypocrisy! Well done!

Re:in before the idiots (3, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175522)

intolerance of intolerance is not the same thing as intolerance itself

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175528)

Don't try arguing with the idiots of /. most don't understand what you're talking about.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175556)

It is when racism is used to fight racism.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175686)

no, it is when racism is defied

"i fight black people"

racism, intolerance, bigotry

"i fight you, because you fight black people"

not racism, not intolerance, not hypocrisy

conservatives are always crying hypocrisy towards the left when "hypocritical" intolerance (of their intolerance) is "exposed." except that intolerance of intolerance is not the same as plain old intolerance, logically and morally

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176260)

Fighting against perceived bigotry does not magically wash away any vices of over zealousness you may engage in. You're essentially saying that, "Since I fight against discrimination, it is impossible for me to make an ignorant, bigoted, or an unjustified and inflammatory statement." How do you rationalize such an incongruity?

Re:in before the idiots (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176282)

propose to me a better way to fight bigotry, and i will adapt it

Re:in before the idiots (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175576)

It's all ok so long as we make an even number of sign mistakes!

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175600)

I'm pretty sure there's no possible way you could ever post "before the idiots".

Re:in before the idiots (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175638)

Now bring in the typical, inevitable, ugly American stupidity in the comments.

No need. There was more than enough of it in your post.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175646)

I've spent a lot of time in the Philippines, and can absolutely confirm your first four points. Filipinos are very friendly towards Americans, much moreso than the Indians, Japanese, and Chinese I've worked with. A lot of their TV programming is from America (the ones I spoke with particularly liked 30 Rock and The Office) which helps them to develop that idiomatic understanding of the language.

However, blaming Americans' bad attitude is foolish. The culprit is corporate greed. If hard work prevented outsourcing, and Filipinos are such hard workers (they are), then why did my company just lay off 50% of its Filipino workforce (thousands of people) and move the jobs to China?

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175768)

Because CVG calls go to whoever can answer calls the cheapest. I know because I worked as a trainer for 4 different projects.We started a center in the Philippines In 2003 and by 2008 had ready setup call centers in China.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175782)

It wasn't a call center that closed. It was a factory.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

Whatchamacallit (21721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177338)

Because in China the workers are cheaper than automated machines. The workers who get injured on the job merely lose their job and the company doesn't even pay for their medical care. The Chinese government won't give a person a prosthetic limb, they just pay to cut if off. Workers are treated like firewood, useful till they are burnt. If a worker can no longer perform, they are fired and kicked out of the company housing to return to the farm or scrape by begging in the streets. The company that sends work to China is looking for the lowest possible cost. As much as I love Apple, I am not thrilled by the horrible working conditions imposed on their Chinese workforce. Apple just pays companies like Foxconn but it is Foxconn who abuses the workers and the government doesn't provide anything in the way of worker safety standards or worker compensation benefits. There are no environmental protections in place either. All the toxic waste is just dumped wherever. You've seen those huge windmills the UK is installing? Well the motors are full of neodymium magnets which are a rare earth element. Chinese companies mining those elements among others have simply dumped all the sludge into a man made lake right next to farmer rice patties. The farmers, their families, and animals are all dying of cancer. The lake is full of heavy metals and even radioactive waste. So while the UK is trying to be green, the Chinese factories supplying the raw materials and parts are polluting the environment on an epic scale! Not only that, the stupid windmills are not anywhere near efficient enough and the UK citizens are paying heavy taxes to cover the costs. A couple of nuclear plants would be hundreds of times more efficient and cheaper in the long and short run. Course you have to put the plant away from the shoreline and any fault lines.

Don't even get me started on India where there are still actual Lepers in the streets! Leprosy is caused by a common bacteria that can be cured with cheap antibiotics! India alone has over 1,000 Leper colony's. It's still pretty common even in China. These people are so poor they cannot afford the simple treatment. The populations are so large and the stigma of having Leprosy is enough to keep it going. Not to mention serious class and cast issues in those cultures. Where the lower casts are simply swept under the rug.

Re:in before the idiots (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175648)

>2. Those working in the call centers will usually speak perfect idiomatic American English. No Taglish (Tagalog and English) or "promdi" ("from the province").

Bullshit. I worked in a call center in Pasig for over a year, and quickly got used to several oddities. It wasnt a big deal because English is my first language not theirs though. The easiest example? Gender, or "here" vs "there". "For a while" was also a very popular but odd phrase. Most of the upper level management spoke English well enough that you would not be able to tell the difference, but the agents were certainly hit and miss. The call center I was in employed 1,000+ for the project I worked on, and several hundred otherwise.

I had to stop saying "I don't care" because I was told its offensive (based on how it translates apparently) but friends had no issue with my saying "I don't give a flying fuck". Don't dare call a woman exotic either. It was practically the same as calling her a hooker.

At any rate, simply put people from the Philippines have much more motivation when it comes to getting a decent job. While there I saw poverty that we could not even imagine in the US. Even call center agents who lived 4+ to a small room, just to send money home to parents that basically live in a shack off of a dirt road with electricity that is wired to standards that are appalling. This is why I have a general distaste for the general "abuse early and often" culture that business (not just american business) loves, because they can outsource things we would find reprehensible and would deem illegal. I cringed every time I saw an agent nearly starve for 2 months just to buy a new phone.

To this day, I defend outsourced / offshored help, because I got to see first hand that its the companies that drive the quality. All too often americans hear an accent and use that to pick on people unfairly, not realizing that support in the US is shit too and the agent is not at fault.

Also, for fucks sakes, between SM Megamall's corp and Yum!, no one in the Philippines actually seems to own anything, so all of that money goes elsewhere. PS. Shout out to Hot Shots :D

Re:in before the idiots (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175736)

I actually find that the gender neutral nature of the Visayan and Tagalog languages to be a mark of cultural superiority.

Basically, there is no differentiation between male and female in the language. Filipinos are always saying "his" or "he" when they mean to say "hers" or "she". So this is a language bias towards equality of the sexes, which carries over to being developmentally predisposed towards equal treatment between the sexes. It's a superior language construct. Unlike, for example, Japanese, which has entire verb classes dedicated to the deference of women and underlings to the male/ boss. English is not the worst offender on this topic.

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176652)

That's one way to look at it. An alternative way is that sexism is so prevalent in the language that they wrote off female forms completely.

Re:in before the idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176748)

Finnish is similar. "Hän" means both he/she.

Re:in before the idiots (2)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177446)

My first language is completely gender neutral. Still lots of sexism where I come from.

Having gender specific pronouns allows for nuance in the English language.

Re:in before the idiots (3, Insightful)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175656)

As someone who has and still works in the call center industry, let me say that it's not about Americans not wanting call center jobs, it's about the costs of low level call center work. For example, if you're a credit card company, you can train a low-wage non-American to do the simple stuff like tell you your balance and available credit, accept a payment, or reissue you another card. But the more complicated stuff will come back on-shore in smaller call centers. Things like credit card disputes, fraud management, and more common sales work.

It's not about finding just cheap labor, but about finding cheap specialized labor. The best part about offshoring is the added benefit of attracting highly skilled and intelligent workers on the cheap. But add American and British culture in the mix and it becomes a little more difficult for the really cheap labor from degree holding Indians or Filipinos to understand cultural cues. It's part of the reason why those who make the mistake of placing Level 3 support in these countries where cultural miscommunication occurs through lack of training and little value of the customer's time causes offshoring to have a bad name.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176944)

It's not cultural miscommunication.. it's just communication period.. Most people with a problem that needs solving could care less where you are, or even that you have an accent, as long as they can understand you and that they feel you are understanding them.. but words, and meanings are only part of communicating.. Even if an offshore worker strings together the words in the same order as an onshore worker, it can have the same effect that most computer text readers do,, you say.. "what ?".. Onshore/offshore aside,, you can have people read a book out loud and have vastly different results for the listener even though all the same words were spoken. The ability to read and speak does not mean you will be good at reading to people.. If an offshore workers is good at communicating effectively then they are in the right job, if not.. then they are not.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

TheQuantumShift (175338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176570)

I agree with points 1 and 4, but point 3 just sounds like it would come off condescending (you know how we ugly, stupid Americans are). I am curious though on the actual number of French-Majoring drive-thru attendants... But yes, I agree it's our own fault for continuing to give money to corporations (you know, the Job Creators) that outsource and offshore everything. But hey, the invisible hand of the free market will correct all this soon, so I'm not worried (except for the fact that the invisible hand will have a gun or two in it). Oh, and when you tell others "Be nice or shut the fuck up," why not teach by example? I know plenty of Americans who have no issue with bedpans, and they worked their asses off to get the opportunity to change them.

Re:in before the idiots (1)

Rashdot (845549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176966)

Saying lame jokes about sex tourism

That was created by the USA anyway.

Uh yeah (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175486)

the Philippines is a much smaller destination for outsourcing more broadly — India earns about 10 times as much revenue from outsourcing

Which figures, because India has more than 10 times the population of the Philippines.

Why India and the Philippines? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175520)

Why are US call centers base in SE Asia? I would think that there are enough countries in South America that are in roughly the same time zone as the US that could be call center havens. Doing so would enable everyone to be working at similar times and that issues that have to move up or down the hierarchy could be resolved sooner.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175532)

English.

Indian and the Philippines have millions of English speakers.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175568)

You know who else has millions of english speakers? Canada. We're in the same time zones, we mostly watch the same TV shows, sports and movies as you do. Yet we'd be happy to work in call centers for less than $50/hour.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175658)

"Yet we'd be happy to work in call centers for less than $50/hour."

LOL

Stick with your well-established Canadian penchant to export your comedians here ;-)

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176068)

That was a sarcastic comment about how American workers probably wouldn't take a job at a call center unless it paid $50/hour or more with yearly bonuses, health and dental insurance and union protection.

In reality you could get a lot of Canadians to work for around $15/hour in a call center with no benefits whatsoever except the minimum required by law.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177452)

and in the Philippines they're probably getting $3/hour and the rent on the building is 10% what they'd pay in Canada.

Canada does have a thriving call centre industry though, they tend to do higher end stuff though.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175572)

From what I understand of it, it's that Phillipinos generally have better English skills and an accent that is related to some US accents

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175580)

Oh, and that customer service in some cases requires that radically different timezones are used.

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175682)

That depends on what kind of call center it is. For example if they sell novelties (like in that TV series) the worker can work pretty normal hours while the customers can call in their orders etc in the evening or in the middle of the night when you are drunk...

Re:Why India and the Philippines? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176012)

There's tons of call centers in Mexico, specially for the tourism industry. I should know, I work in one.

ATT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175540)

AT&T recently moved at least their MIS department over to the Philippines. Call quality and assistance has gone down drastically. Which may be more AT&T's fault than anything else.

Names and Lies (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175546)

I automatically trust the Filipino call center drone more than his Indian counterpart.

The Filipino doesn't start our conversation with what I know to be a lie.

"Hi, my name is Mike. How can I ...."

Bullshit, man with a South Asian Accent. Your name is not Mike.

Irrational, I know, but I have a low level of contempt for the guy I'm speaking with when things start off that way. Has nothing to do with race or national origin.

Re:Names and Lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175592)

I completely agree. Irrationally as it might be. I tend to introduce myself on the phone as "I am $realname, but you can call me $nickname", because I know my name is unpronouncable for English-speakers.

Re:Names and Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175666)

Bullshit, man with a South Asian Accent. Your name is not Mike.

It may often be untrue (though at common law your name is whatever you choose to be known by) but I don't see how you can be certain in any given case. The head of government in Lower Saxony (uh... that's in Germany in case it needs saying) was born and raised in Berlin (Germany again...) and is called David McAllister. Now admitedly one of his parents (but only one) was British but the British had plenty of breeding opportunities in India too. Names get around.

Re:Names and Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176092)

But they're not! A very insignigicant % of the Indian population are Anglo-Indians. The GP is right - when someone with a thick Indian accent gives himself names like Mike, Joe, Steve when his real name may be Murli, Jasvinder or Srinivas, it just starts the creation of the poor impression @ the customer end.

Re:Names and Lies (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176882)

Not that much in India, they don't. I went to school with a lot of Indians. I've gone to a lot of Indian weddings. I've done some small bit of traveling in India. Guess how many Mikes, Joes, Alberts, and Thomases I've met over the years.

I grew up in Germany. Went to elementary school there. Please, tell me more about German geography.

Also, FWIW Russell Peters (Indian and that's his real name), one of my favorite comedians. He's not who we're talking about, are we?

Re:Names and Lies (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176074)

It just so happens that American and English first names are ubiquitous in the Philippines, as are Spanish last names. In the case of Spanish, well, that was colonial. First names, though, that's more or less a matter of [gasp] free choice. I have no idea why, except perhaps that over the centuries Filipinos have developed something of an "adapt or die" attitude toward culture.

good read on that subject matter: (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176504)

in short, to people with Anglophile backgrounds, Filipino names are just plain wacky:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9435751.stm [bbc.co.uk]

But the main thing Spain gave to the Philippines was Catholicism, and with it, tens of thousands of newly-christened Marias and Joses.
With the Americans came names like Butch, Buffy and Junior - and the propensity to shorten everything if at all possible.
Perhaps it is the combination of these two influences which has led to names like Jejomar - short for Jesus Joseph Mary.
The current vice president is called Jejomar Binay.
Even the large Chinese community here has not escaped this national name game.
Their surnames are often a form of Anglicised Chinese, but sometimes the Philippine penchant for fun shines through.
I have heard of a Van Go, a John F Kenneth Dee and an Ivan Ho.
But there are some names that just defy explanation.
Why would you call your children after the days of the week or your favourite desserts? To many Filipinos, a better question to ask is: "Why wouldn't you?"
I have been living here for a while now, and I have got used to all these names.
When I'm introduced to a Dinky or a Dunce, or read about people called Bing and Bong, it seems almost normal.
In fact, if anything, I rather like the fact that Filipinos are self-assured enough to use these names, no matter how odd they sound or how senior the person's public role.
But my assimilation is not quite complete.
While I think it is great that BumBum can wear her name badge with pride, I'm not quite ready to adopt a Philippine nickname myself just yet.

my favorite is the very influential previous archbishop of the Philippines: Cardinal Sin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_Sin [wikipedia.org]

His title and surname as Cardinal Sin (another term for a deadly sin) were the source of many jokes in the Philippines and the Philippine Catholic community, such as "The greatest sin of all...Cardinal Sin", and his own pun: "Welcome to the house of Sin" referring to his official residence, Villa San Miguel.

Re:Names and Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176146)

No, English (or equivalent) names are quite common. I worked on a multi-year co-sourced project with Filipino IT people and names like "Mary", "Lourdes", "John" and "Paul" were so common that they themselves suggested using their nicknames so everyone would know who was who on the phone. I also agree with various posters that my Filipino colleagues were unfailingly polite. It was something of a fault, as they sometimes needed to be firm and assertive.

Indian BPOs in the Philippines (4, Informative)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175578)

I'm not sure how extensive they are or if TFA takes this into account, but it should be noted that all the Indian BPO majors have a presence [infosys.com] in the [wipro.com] Philippines [tcs.com] .

Adios, jobs... (2)

haaz (3346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175586)

I worked at an MCI IP relay [wikipedia.org] call center some years ago. I remember that shortly before I quit, management was bragging about their new Filipino call center. They said people would walk for hours and hours to get to the work site in Manila, and sleep there overnight. Their efficiency was top-notch, apparently. And I guess they didn't have or didn't mind what I referred to as the "Anal Sex Hour," which happened when bored suburban teenagers (mostly from Texas, it seemed) would prank call their female classmates and have the relay operator sexually harass the call recipient over the phone. All anonymously. All without recourse. Between that and our friends from Nigeria [barbarabrabec.com] , I'd had enough, and quit.

Re:Adios, jobs... (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175634)

Call center? That is a sub-human job man. Most of these positions are outsourced for a reason, many of those manufacturing and similar level employments are simply awful and will be replaced by robots (Siri like call-bots here) in the near future anyway making them sure dead-end jobs we should avoid anyway.

Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175644)

Apple doesn't outsource call support jobs overseas and they've been number one in call center customer satisfaction for 12 years in a row. Coincidence?

Re:Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176176)

Apple's only base in the EU is in Cork, nothern ireland. Apple outsources their call centre to UK (Gateshead) and Greece amongst many other. I should know cos I worked as iPhone/iOS tech advisor there for a while. Please stop making stuff up.

So when will Siri put all of them out of a job? (2)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175856)

I'm very impressed by the voice recognition capabilities of Siri (and presumably other products like it). Its ability to UNDERSTAND what you are asking for of course has a lot of room for improvement.

Is that just a matter of time though? When will the simpler types of these jobs be eliminated? What about us slashdot posters, will I have to worry about being replaced by Siri 2.0? (ok maybe Siri 3.0).

Glad to hear it! (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175864)

Nothing against Indian call center workers, but I'm glad for this shift. My experiences with call centers in the Philippines have been dramatically better than my call centers in India. The accent, if present, is easier for an American to understand. I suspect that has to be with respective colonial relationships. The call center employees don't bullshit me by claiming to be Todd in Texas, they give me their real name and don't try to tell me they're local. They also don't get defensive when I'm pissed off. I suspect the companies there must be training their employees differently. Indian call centers seem far more aggressive...clearly run by MBAs. Plus, it is an economic break for a country that needs one.

PI has hotter chicks too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38175894)

The women from India mostly have faces that could stop a clock.

And if you thought Indian tech support was bad... (1, Informative)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176164)

Just wait until you call the Philippines. Currently, Siemens corporation outsources their IT support to the Philippines. The quality of their IT support is amazing, but not in a good way.

Re:And if you thought Indian tech support was bad. (1)

Whatchamacallit (21721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177210)

Siemens sold their IT Solutions and Services division to ATOS recently. The US ATOS call center is in Ohio. It all comes down to the information and freedom provided to the call center staff. If you give them a script and you are overly strict with the staff, you end up with a slave driven environment where they are not allowed to deviate from the script. If you don't actually train the staff to trouble-shoot and think for themselves, then you get horrific results. Don't blame the crap support you receive, blame your own company for accepting offshore support and blame your IT department for not giving the tech's the training they require.

Outsourcing can work if managed properly, but all too often it is mis-managed to keep costs as cheap as possible. IT support is not considered essential by the business because it generates zero income. What the business needs to understand is the costs of lost productivity to their main workforce that is making money. If every worker has a computer problem that requires 15 calls to the helpless help desk with zero resolution and multiple days / weeks of downtime then they will consider spending more. It all boils down to IT generating accurate metrics that mean something to the business. We spent more outsourcing with another firm than we did doing it ourselves. The micro-charges really add up! Making sure the contract is solid is difficult, time consuming and expensive. Lawyers don't understand IT and bottom line costs are deceptive. Manage your own infrastructure and outsource the no brainer jobs but keep the real talent in house.

Re:And if you thought Indian tech support was bad. (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38177448)

I can't say I disagree with you. They buy the services of these smart people, and then don't let them be smart. It happens to Indian technical support too, as far as I can tell. A script isn't a substitute for a thinking person on the other end of the phone.

A Filipino in a call center speaks (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176226)

First off, I never thought I'd see the day that my country and my industry would make it to slashdot's front page. :-)

I work in one of the biggest call centers in Manila as part of upper management (hence, this anonymous post). The growth here in the Philippines (of the call center industry) has been astonishing. For my span (total number of employees in my or my subordinates' control) alone, we grew by 1500% in 2 years. This year, projected revenue from outsourcing in the Philippines is projected at around a dozen billion US dollars.

The article is correct in stating that a typical Filipino will learn American English in first grade (pre-school, in most cases) and that he/she would probably have been indoctrinated in American culture as soon as they first watch Sesame Street or Spongebob in their formative years.

(This can be both good and bad. For the past few weeks, everybody at work can speak about nothing else except Breaking Dawn. And, as a sidenote, nerds here in the Philippines are almost indistinguishable from their American counterparts, they speak the same language (Klingon, included) and pursue similar pursuits and hobbies outside work and school.)

I truly believe the key to this growth is not just language and cultural indoctrination, as what TFA has stated.

First is the inherent culture and attitude. Typically, a Filipino will be extremely polite and accommodating almost to a fault. One of our recurring issues here are call center agents who keep saying "Sir" and "Ma'am" too much and apologize profusely, more so than is warranted. Compare this (and I say this with all due respect) to counterparts in other countries where call center agents have to be reminded to say "Thank you" every now and then. Another would be qualifications. Most Filipinos in the call center industry have, at the very least, a college degree. Finally, the most compelling characteristic, imho, is definitely the work ethic. It is not uncommon for my colleagues to work 12 hour days (without overtime pay) and still commute 2 hours to and from work. Add to that, call center employees, more often than not, work from 9pm to 5am to match US daylight hours. All this for a fraction of what our counterparts get in the west.

I am quite optimistic that our industry will continue to grow, even with if there is a clamor for jobs to stay Stateside and recent technologies such as Siri. There will always be a need for a human touch when a person picks up the telephone to ask for help. And, even if I am wont to say this, Filipinos are suited for this job, as their counterparts in the west don't seem to want it, or have a disdain for it.

A Filipino in a call center speaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176262)

First off, I never thought I'd see the day that my country and my industry would make it to slashdot's front page. :-)

I work in one of the biggest call centers in Manila as part of upper management (hence, this anonymous post). The growth here in the Philippines (of the call center industry) has been astonishing. For my span (total number of employees in my or my subordinates' control) alone, we grew by 1500% in 2 years. This year, projected revenue from outsourcing in the Philippines is projected at around a dozen billion US dollars.

The article is correct in stating that a typical Filipino will learn American English in first grade (pre-school, in most cases) and that he/she would probably have been indoctrinated in American culture as soon as they first watch Sesame Street or Spongebob in their formative years.

(This can be both good and bad. For the past few weeks, everybody at work can speak about nothing else except Breaking Dawn. And, as a sidenote, nerds here in the Philippines are almost indistinguishable from their American counterparts, they speak the same language (Klingon, included) and pursue similar pursuits and hobbies outside work and school.)

I truly believe the key to this growth is not just language and cultural indoctrination, as what TFA has stated.

First is the inherent culture and attitude. Typically, a Filipino will be extremely polite and accommodating almost to a fault. One of our recurring issues here are call center agents who keep saying "Sir" and "Ma'am" too much and apologize profusely, more so than is warranted. Compare this (and I say this with all due respect) to counterparts in other countries where call center agents have to be reminded to say "Thank you" every now and then. Another would be qualifications. Most Filipinos in the call center industry have, at the very least, a college degree. Finally, the most compelling characteristic, imho, is definitely the work ethic. It is not uncommon for my colleagues to work 12 hour days (without overtime pay) and still commute 2 hours to and from work. Add to that, call center employees, more often than not, work from 9pm to 5am to match US daylight hours. All this for a fraction of what our counterparts get in the west.

I am quite optimistic that our industry will continue to grow, even with if there is a clamor for jobs to stay Stateside and recent technologies such as Siri. There will always be a need for a human touch when a person picks up the telephone to ask for help. And, even if I am wont to say this, Filipinos are suited for this job, as their counterparts in the west don't seem to want it, or have a disdain for it.

the battle of the superpowers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176350)

India (the world's next superpower as we're all suppose to know) is engaged in a heroic struggle against the old world powers to claim its legitimate place the the upper echelon of international prestige. By all indications it's surged ahead of such established old world heavy weights such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan,...Unfortunately, it ran straight into the ultra advanced, ultra competitive Filipinos, and came out second best for the first time in recent memory.

Should not come as a surprise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38176688)

India said, some time ago, that they want to be out of the call center business. Indians want to work as developers, architects, analysts, managers, and the like. And who could blame them? Who wants to get an engineering degree for a career in a call center?

Filipino Call Centers (3, Interesting)

Whatchamacallit (21721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176968)

First a disclaimer, my wife is an American citizen Filipino immigrant, who surprise, is a nurse! I interact with hundreds of Filipinos both in the USA and abroad on a pretty regular basis. Filipino's love to eat, so there are family friendly parties every week where they feast. There are no left overs, everyone takes something home with them. They cannot possibly get enough pork and they also eat a lot of seafood and rice. They love to sing and always seem to have a karaoke machine at those parties. They all mostly love America. Right after the Japanese bombed Perl Harbor, they bombed and invaded the Philippines (It was an American Coloney). General McArthur had to leave the Philippines when war was declared but he vowed to return to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. He kept his promise.

Their accents are not bad at all and they all speak fluent english and many of them can speak spanish too! If they don't speak spanish, they can certainly understand 99% of it. The Philippines was a Spanish colony that the USA won in the Spanish American war. America is responsible for building all their public schools. Their nurses can come the USA and only have to pass the nursing exams. All their college credits are transferable as their schools meet the USA educational standards. It is true that many of them mix up masculine and feminine words that simply don't exist in their native languages. (His/Her, He/ She, etc.). There are millions of Filipino's in the USA. They are truly compassionate and highly skilled. You would be lucky to have a Filipino nurse as you will likely receive exceptional care and true compassion.

I feel it's about time that outsourcing moves from India to the Philippines. They certainly understand American culture and can speak American English. They have Christian names that you can pronounce. Most of them have a very strong work ethic and they are extremely polite and friendly. Communication is so much easier than with the Indians. More companies should be moving outsourced operations from India to the Philippines or just plain in-sourcing it back to the USA. All those tech savvy American students who cannot get a job, would jump all over a call center job. Course, turnover will always be high, no matter who does the work because it truly is a difficult job. But if a company must outsource than they should seriously consider the Philippines as one of the best to satisfy customers angry with Indian communications.

In regards to the articles comparison of the American dollar to the Filipino Peso, it is the dollar that is dropping like a rock, and the Peso is more stable. It is not the Philippines that has to worry about the exchange rate, it is America that should be worried.

A much better alternative (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38177078)

Over the past 2 years my Australian based multinational has moved the internal help desk as well as some operations, DBA, networks teams and so on to Manila. The speed at which the place has grown (now employs 200+ people), the quality of the staff, their grasp of the english language and their attitude must be commended.

Compared to the alternatives, their accent is much easier to understand, they have much better analytical skills, won't try and save face (it's not in their culture to do so) and they won't promise the world up front but never deliver anything.

Compared to some local colleagues they can leave them for dead too. Just this week I had to deal with a young guy from Manila, and an old guy (been in the company 15 years) locally. You can imagine which one was quicker at setting things up, had a better attitude and left a much better impression. Couple that with 24hr support and it's hard to imagine why you wouldn't want to outsource some things to the Phillippines.

I was certainly apprehensive at first but am now a convert.

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