The Philippines at the Heart of CX Business Continuity

Inspiro

THE PHILIPPINES AT THE HEART OF CX BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Ryan Strategic Advisory provides an in-depth discussion on the ever-growing need for resiliency and why the Philippines is at the heart of CX business continuity. Key discussion points include:

INTRODUCTION

Business continuity has been around as long as customer experience management, but it has taken on a life of its own since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns.  Unfortunately, many enterprise CX decision-makers were woefully unprepared for the disruption to operations that plagued contact centers across industries and geographies. 

In 2021, CX managers know that things must change if front-line operations are to ensure seamless delivery, regardless of the circumstances. And, these circumstances can vary tremendously – it is inherent that disruption may come from various sources. Sometimes, multiple disruptors emerge simultaneously.  Therefore, having a network of credible destinations from which customer management can be performed has never been more important.  At the heart of this approach is the Philippines. An established, tried and trusted delivery point, the Philippines has supported many of the world’s biggest brands for over two decades. 

A diverse country with strong CX expertise, the Philippines has proven a solid location for ensuring quality service, even during tough circumstances.  Now, its position is more relevant than ever as economies around the world return to normal.

THE EVER-GROWING NEED FOR CX BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Business continuity among enterprise CX operators is vital. In fact, ensuring strong levels of business continuity was cited as the biggest pressure point among 628 captive contact center executives in the 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey by Ryan Strategic Advisory.  However, it would be naïve to assume that disruptions to operations are generic. Rather, they come in different forms, each of which can adversely impact CX delivery negatively, if contingencies are not employed.  Among the most important disruptors include:

Extreme Weather

Climate change is massively impacting the planet and commercial operations.  In the US alone, some estimates place damages from extreme weather brought on by global warming to be more than $400bn between 2010 and 2020.  This does not even take into account the disruption that extreme heat, snowstorms, torrential rainfalls or earthquakes have on business operations, hitting contact centers especially hard. CX operators need to be prepared to cope with any kind of weather disruption.

Social Unrest

The potential for protests or popular uprisings to disrupt operations should not be underestimated by contact center operators.  Recent history provides examples in established offshore locations, such as Honduras in 2017 or even key sourcing markets such as the UK in 2011, when riots ensued in many of that country’s major cities.  While these events tend to be the exception rather than the rule, the impact on seamless CX delivery can be pronounced, meaning the need for alternative customer management points is essential.

Natural Disasters

Earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, and flooding – some say such events can’t be predicted, while others claim they can be and should have been foreseen. They certainly should have been planned for, businesses with ready contingencies that were quicker and more able to survive, adapt, and thrive. Being ready for literally anything has never been more relevant for contact center management.

Health Crisis

It goes without saying that the past year and a half has shown the world’s CX decision-makers how having a strong contingency plan is invaluable to drive seamless interactions.  As the planet slowly recovers from COVID19, no customer management executive should be under the illusion that a pandemic cannot recur.  Being ready has never been more important in the context of contact center management.

THE RISK OF CENTRALIZING CX OPERATIONS

The cliché ‘never place all your eggs in one basket’ is an important reminder of the importance of diversification.  Unfortunately, what the COVID-19 pandemic has shown is that very few contact centers followed this practice, with many housing the bulk (if not all) of their workstations in one location.  This poses major risks in the CX context, including

Lack Of Redundancy

When capacity is based in one location, there is a major risk when it comes to the power supply and network connectivity should a disruption occur.  A CX operation that is networked across multiple geographies immediately reduces its risk exposure and improves its redundancy.

Human Resource Management Challenges

When a disruption occurs to a centralized CX operation, it will almost certainly impair front-line delivery due to the agent impact.  If even a minority of talent cannot access the contact center or finds that home-working connectivity has gone down, or a geographically isolated outbreak occurs, the ability for a heavily centralized operation to support end-users takes an immediate hit.

Threats To CX Delivery Centers

If societal events spiral out of control or a natural disaster strikes, contact center facilities would be heavily at risk in terms of commercial property and the CX facilities within them. For a centralized operation, this would be tantamount to closing down delivery.

Overexposure To Disruption

As noted in the points above, the more a contact center’s operations are centralized, the greater likelihood it will be impacted by disruption of any sort. There is virtually no chance for ensuring strong end-user support if there is too much reliance on one power or connectivity network, or if too many agents are in the same vicinity and the facilities are exposed to different types of destructive influence.  This is why so many enterprise operators are looking to diversify their locations, with the Philippines emerging as a strong contender to be part of this strategy.

LEVERAGING THE PHILIPPINES TO DIVERSIFY RISK

CX management is a way of life in the Philippines.  The country has embraced the customer management sector like very few others in the world, which is why it is proving to be ground-zero for contact center business continuity.

Established CX Destination

The Philippines has been performing contact center management for end-users in key demand markets since the late-1990s. Estimates place the total number of those working in customer experience in the Philippines at 900,000.  Since 2017, it has consistently been in the top 5 most favored offshore destinations by enterprise contact center managers in each iteration of the Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey. This not only makes the CX sector one of the most sought-after for entry-level employment, it also means the country has a culture of operational management excellence that is versed in navigating challenges.  This gives the Philippines an immediate advantage in terms of customer experience business continuity. 

Higher-value CX Services

The Philippines’ contact center space has has evolved into one of the most added-value offshore destinations. Philippine-based contact center agents boast signficant education and work experience, enabling them to handle mid- to high-skilled CX functions, for end users around the world. This opportunity to work in a challenging environment results in lower attrition and better results for consumers. 

“The Philippines remains the top destination for CX services, in scale, offerings, and expertise. The pandemic only tested the strength of our BCP readiness, ultimately showcasing our resilience. From predominantly brick-and-mortar operations, we brought our operations up to 74% work-from-home, thanks to the support from critical government agencies: the Department of Trade & Industry, Board of Investments, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and PEZA – as well as our telecommunication partners. The challenges galvanized everyone to work toward our common goal, serving our global customers.”

Jojo Uligan
President, Contact Center Association of the Philippines

Digital Integration At Its Heart

The days of Philippine agents exclusively supporting voice interactions are a thing of the past.  Today, as a response to changing consumer channel choices that favor non-voice delivery, CX from the Philippines incorporates digital components, including email, chat, social media, messaging platforms and AI-powered automated interfaces. More broadly, this transformation considers the need to drive the best commercial outcomes, using higher-value technology solutions that incorporate a cross-platform view of the customer that can be analysed to ensure personalized choices for individual consumers.

Quality Infrastructure & Construction

As the BPO industry and CX, in particular, are significant drivers of the national economy, the Philippines has made substantial investments in both the country’s infrastructure and contact center facilities themselves. These efforts have yielded resilient transport infrastructure, electricity, and public emergency services, which have proven highly resistant to disruption, driving smooth contact center delivery through good times and bad.  The ongoing 5G connectivity expansion – with 3,000 sites already established nationwide by PLDT’s Smart Communications, Inc., and 88% of Metro Manila covered by Globe Telecom Inc.’s network – will further ensure robust interactions with consumers, such as video chat.

“When the pandemic hit, our call center workforce was significantly reduced. As time passed and the business continued to hold strong, we made the decision to ramp up headcount aggressively to address the contact volume we were experiencing. In addition, during Holiday 2020, we ramped up to the largest headcount our business had ever experienced. Without the collaboration and diligence of our Philippine partner, neither effort would have been possible.

Our partners were quick to implement work from home operations, revised training preparations to accommodate training from home, and provided housing and transportation for agents.

All of their efforts allowed us to meet customer demand the back half of the year, and most importantly holiday. These efforts continue today and we’re glad to see we have had little to no business impact due to their preparation. Collaborative efforts have also, and foremost, ensured agents have a safe environment to work. We cannot say thank you enough for their swift and robust action plan.”

Pablo Sanchez
Senior Manager, Pacific Sunwear


Multiple Urban Centers

There are many cities in the Philippines from which contact center management can be performed, thereby avoiding the risk of centralizing operations in one location.  Sadly, this is not the case for many offshore / nearshore delivery points where the industry is based in a small number of urban centers. In concentrated locations, this has led to over-exposure to a single location, which threatens operational disruption, and also high costs as locations become overheated.

Top 25 Digital Cities In The Philippines:

  • Balanga City
  • Batangas City
  • Cabanatuan City
  • Dagupan City
  • General Santos City
  • Iligan City
  • Iriga City
  • Laguna Cluster (San Pablo, Calamba, Los Baños) Laoag City
  • Legazpi City
  • Malolos City
  • Metro Cavite (Bacoor City, Imus,  General Trias)
  • Metro Rizal (Taytay, Cainta, Antipolo)
  • Olongapo City
  • Puerto Prinsesa City Roxas City
  • San Fernando
  • La Union
  • San Fernando City Pampanga
  • San Jose Del Monte City
  • Tacloban City
  • Tagbilranan City
  • Tarlac City
  • Tuguegarao City
  • Urdaneta City
  • Zamboanga City

Part Of A Global Network Of Delivery Points

The Philippines works best as part of a multitude of offshore and nearshore customer management delivery destinations.  This is why forward-looking contact center operators would be wise to consider working with a services partner that is positioned with a diverse network of CX sites, to maximize business continuity potential.

“Due to the pandemic, outsourcing providers had to invest in new work arrangements that synergized employee health and safety, client security and data privacy, and the industry’s digital revolution. Providers
like Inspiro, responded quickly and effectively enough to minimize disruption and sustain operations, with flexibility, responsiveness, and innovation, enabled by sound Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategies.”

Rommel Regino
Head, Global Operations & Sales

Inspiro


CONCLUSION

The future of CX management belongs to organizations that carefully plan their delivery footprint.  To maximize the best results possible, while minimizing the risk exposure, delivery needs to be distributed widely.  Being situated in one location is simply not viable. This is why so many operators are looking to extend their CX network, and the Philippines at the core of this strategy. 

Having been providing customer management to end-users across demand markets for over two decades, it has developed a culture of CX resiliency rarely found elsewhere.  Its ongoing development of quality facilities and infrastructure across multiple cities adds to the value of Philippine CX investment for business continuity.  Moving forward, the drive for risk management in contact center operations will likely see more emphasis on this long-time customer experience destination.

For more information please visit www.ryanadvisory.com

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