Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Philippine #competitiveness in call centre industry slipping due to #English proficiency decline

The CEO of the International Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBAP) talks of 'serious supply side constraints' and an 'insufficient quantity of "suitable and willing talent to fuel growth"

A study conducted by John Clements, where they tested 2,524 graduating students, found that only 3% had the required skills for the call centre industry, and the biggest problem identified was their level of oral English proficiency

Some call centre providers talk of only 1% making the grade in terms of english language. The obvious danger is that smaller companies reduce quality if personnel, service levels decline, customers are unhappy, a bad reputation is created, new business doesn't come, established customers transfer elsewhere

Quality Assurance benchmarking and new techniques in language training are not being widely utilised. The emphasis is still too much on grammar and accent neutralisation which is not as critical as customer cultural understanding and the total customer experience, which demands greater interpersonal skills.

The Business Processing Language Assessment (BUPLAS) can be used
for defining and assessing communicative competence, and in conjunction with benchmarking, mystery shopping be used in a constructive non-threatening way to both improve the service levels, expand the skill/knowledge base, and act as a marketing tool for new business.

TEFL and TESOL provide a framework but must be customised and adapted to a modular approach related to the industry being served primarily and the country they are in secondly.

On the matter of standards the Philippines tends to use ISO , when more complete models are available particularly malcolm bainbridge – US, and EFQM – Europe, or the more generic TQM total quality management and allied measurement tools such as six sigma , kaizen etc.

This would also focus on the managerial competencies – problem solving, staff motivation, teamwork, forward planning etc.

The underlying point is that improvements and adaptation must take place to remain competitive and applying best practices from other countries.

Technology is now enabling new and creative solutions – even looking at hybrid services as voice recognition improves – as evidenced by apps like SIRI on smartphones.

The ultimate danger is that demand side needs particularly in terms of integration and complexity will outpace the ability of the supply side to respond.

In that instance corporates will simply say bye bye Philippines, hola Mexico.

All call centre staff need to focus on self improvement, continuous improvement and lifelong learning. Forget about telenovelas. That won't get you anywhere in life.


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