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April 12, 2021

BPO Philippines: Digital is Driving Growth

The digital sector has been growing rapidly, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated that growth far beyond even the most optimistic projections. Over a year into the pandemic, it seems strange to remember that most businesses operated as physical businesses which were supplemented by digital offerings. Even online giants like Amazon had started experimenting with opening physical stores.

Covid-19 has transformed the way businesses operate around the world. Businesses that had been centered on in-person service delivery, have struggled to adapt their workforce and operations to new situations. A typical example is banking, despite banks offering varying online options, were still largely dependent on branches where people could go with queries and for customer service. But while they were struggling to adapt their businesses to new ways of working, competing online banks, which might even have been using white-labelled products from traditional banks, were ready to take customers who could not, or were reluctant, to use their local branch.

The rapid growth that digital businesses have seen, however, has not been without challenges. When growth outstripped even optimistic business plans, businesses had to look at how they could rapidly scale their businesses to match. And this is where BPO companies in the Philippines were able to help. The Philippine BPO industry was ready to step in, in large part because of all the advantages the sector had before the pandemic struck.

The BPO industry in the Philippines has numerous advantages over other countries. A large part of its growth to become a world-leader has been due to the lower labour costs it offers, typically around 50% the cost of in-house or domestic BPO provision. The size of the industry also means it can scale quickly. There are over 1.2 million Filipinos who work in the BPO sector, which along with the high levels of education and English-fluency in the country, mean it can scale quickly to meet new challenges and demands.

Indeed, the quality of staff available has been one of the key attractors for businesses looking to outsource. Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, an award-winning BPO provider in Manila, explained, “the Philippines offers great English, a vast pool of educated and skilled agents and a close cultural affinity to the West. When you have similar service capabilities in, for example, India, the outsourcing options created by the local workforce in the Philippines makes it a preferred destination.”

The Philippines sector has also taken advantage of digital itself. Premier providers have invested just as much in their infrastructure as they have in their staff. This has allowed them to respond efficiently and effectively to their own COVID-19 challenges. Unlike the stereotypical view of jam-packed call centres, many staff members were able to work from home. Additionally, the increased efficiencies provided by AI assistants and improved processes meant that for those contracts that needed to be delivered from BPO facilities, the number of staff required could be reduced to safe levels for COVID-19 without impacting on service quality.

In the end, the qualities that made BPO in the Philippines so attractive even before the rise of digital are helping it thrive in the new age. When businesses needed to rapidly increase their business volumes, the BPO industry in the Philippines was ready step up. And regardless of whether a business model is digital or not, providing good customer service is vital, so choosing a BPO provider such as PITON-Global that can ensure high-quality service for back-office and customer service is a priority.

Ellspermann stressed that, in the end, it is quality that matters most. “I’ve worked in the Philippines BPO industry for over 20 years but have never seen anything like the last 12 months. We are getting inquiries from high-growth businesses in e-health, fintech, gaming, e-commerce, the whole range of digital. They all share the same demand, while cost is important, they choose us because we share their commitment to quality and deliver it to  customers.” Even with digital, the importance of customer satisfaction is paramount.

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