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Philippine Call Center Blog

7 Things You Should Know About Cebu City

In order to understand the success that many companies in the Philippines are experiencing, you should first get an idea of the city’s they operate out of. Cebu City, a major city in the Philippines, is one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. It is also home to many companies that operate on a global scale.

Here are 7 things you may not know about Cebu City and the people that live there.

It’s a Historic City

Cebu City has roots that reach back centuries, and the region around the city has strong Chinese and Indian influences. Cebu is the oldest city in the Philippines, in 1565 it was claimed for King Phillip II of Spain by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. But in all reality, Cebu City had already been a kingdom for 300 years, only then it was known as the Rajahnate of Cebu. It is also officially known as The First Capital of the Philippines.

Urbanization at Work

Since Cebu City has been a major hub for trade since the 13th Century, it’s one of the Philippines most urbanized cities. Cebu City has the fifth biggest population, which gets around with the help of hundreds of buses, taxis, and colorful multi-passenger jeeps.

The BPO Industry is Huge

Cebu City may have shipping roots, but business processing outsourcing, or BPO, is shaping the city’s future. The connections made with businesses overseas has inspired the creation of many BPO companies in the region. That, combined with a large, educated population, has gained companies in Cebu City international recognition.

The City Has a Modern, Middle Class

Like most historic trade hubs, Cebu City is very modern and its citizens enjoy a great standard of living. It can be crowded at times, but the amount of jobs available gives residents a chance to work and live fairly comfortable compared to many places in South Asia.

A City with Shipping Roots

Since Cebu City is a coastal city, it has maintained a reputation as a hub for trade and shipping throughout its history. In fact, most of the imported goods that come into the Philippines by sea do so through Cebu City.

Tourism is Big Business

Tourists come to Cebu City for its rich history, exciting nightlife, and breathtaking views. You can get the best views of the city from Tops Lookout, there you’ll be able to witness the mix of skyscrapers, Spanish architecture, and the ocean that makes up the area.

An Educated Island

Cebu City is what many around the world would call a “college town,” with 11 major universities located in the city, many with regional branches. The population of highly educated young adults helps keep the many emerging industries within the city thrive. Many of these graduates go on to work for BPO companies since they are always looking for new talent.

Cebu City is a thriving, economic powerhouse in South Asia that will be making more noise in the future. As more connections are made with businesses around the world, the city looks to continue expanding its role on the global stage.

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Coffee: A Call Center Staple

Coffee, is there anything more important at a call center?

Okay — sales are pretty important too, but that doesn’t mean coffee doesn’t rank high up there on the ladder. From our morning cup, to our mid-day treat that keeps us from crashing, coffee has been a key component of the call center workplace culture.

So much of the job revolves around this drink, and a good coffee situation can really help the overall mood of your employees. Here’s how to take advantage of, and improve, your workplace coffee situation.

Drink at the Right Time

Coffee’s natural ability to get us going has resulted in people downing cups of coffee the minute they wake up; this isn’t necessarily bad for you, but you’re not getting the most out of your drink that way. The reason being is that your body produces cortisol, a chemical that keeps people alert the most between the times of 8-9 am. By drinking coffee at this time, you are taking in caffeine when you don’t need it; instead, opt to have your first cup between 10-10:30 am for the best effect.

Use Creamer for Warmer Coffee

You may be one of those coffee drinkers that likes to look into their cup and see a void of never-ending darkness, but you may be surprised to find that adding creamer to your coffee actually keeps it warmer for a longer period of time.  Not everyone likes their coffee hot, but a warm drink means a slower sipping experience to enjoy while working.

Mind the H2O

A cup of coffee is about 98% water, which means that using the tap water from the sink for your pot results in coffee that taste like, well, tap water. You can better the taste of your coffee by always using water that’s been purified in a filter, or from a water cooler.

It’s also a good idea to run just water through your coffee pot every once in awhile to clean out the system, this removes any unwanted debris or tastes from your coffee.

Share the Love

If you’ve discovered a new favorite roast why not share it with your coworkers? When you can afford it, bring in a bag of coffee freshly ground at home and leave it in the breakroom. Who knows, the next week someone might bring in their own bag for you to try as well.

Fresh ground coffee isn’t the only thing you can share with your coworkers; new coffee pods, sugars, creamers, and other sweeteners can turn an ordinary breakroom into a mini coffee shop.

Now that’s something everyone in the office can get on board with!

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Top BPO Companies in the Philippines

Business Process OutsourcingBusiness Process Outsourcing is a vital component to a growing Philippine economy. BPO and call center companies in Cebu, Manila, Makati and other cities account for nearly 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and the top BPO companies in the Philippines are forecast to employ some 1.8 million residents by the end of this year.

The Philippine BPO industry has realized immense growth thanks in part to tax exemptions and other government initiatives used to entice investors. With the aid of the Philippine’s Commission on Higher Education, there are even University-level training courses for potential BPO call center workers, which feeds into an impressive talent pool of highly-motivated college graduates.

Executive Boutique, a rising BPO company in the region, has the privilege of working with some of the very best of these individuals to service the business processes of companies throughout the world.

Business Process Outsourcing Industry in the Philippines

According to ASEAN Briefing, the BPO industry in the Philippines has shown a median expansion rate of 20 percent each year, which bodes well for future growth. India’s apex trade association, ASSOCHAM, reports that BPO services there have declined significantly as more organizations shift their focus toward the Philippines, where citizens are fluent in English, have neutral accents, and leverage extensive training in finance, accounting, IT and other relevant sectors.

BPO companies in the Philippines are projected to generate some $40 billion in revenue while providing stable jobs for 2.8 million Filipinos over the next five years. For many, this thriving industry, which includes data transcription, software development, back-office processes and call center operations, has highlighted the myriad talents and skillsets of the Filipino people, while giving businesses around the globe the chance to cut costs, streamline operations and scale workforce as needed.

Best BPO Companies in the Philippines in High Demand

Every year, more than half a million Filipino residents earn an undergraduate, Masters or doctoral degree. Not surprisingly, the country boasts a wealth of professional talent, including those in the IT-BPO sectors such as health care, accounting and other complex services. The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines reports that the BPO and call center industry is among the nation’s most significant generator of jobs.

The top 10 BPO companies in the Philippines remain in high demand. They attract the cream of the crop by offering a positive work culture, a healthy work-life balance and numerous benefits along with competitive salaries.  Employees have opportunities for career advancement, whether in the fields of customer service, technology, development, consulting or operations.

Philippines a Global Hub for BPO

The Philippines has shown itself a major player in the business process outsourcing industry as rising numbers of organizations have partnered with leading BPO providers to gain a competitive edge. Cebu City is a thriving outsourcing hub for BPO companies and boasts more than two dozen IT Parks and IT Centers in addition to numerous top-tier higher education institutions. Cebu City is also home to Executive Boutique. Call today for  more information about how we can best serve the needs of your company by becoming “Your Call Center in the Philippines!”

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Customer Service: Live Chat vs. Telephone Support

It doesn’t matter what your company’s service or product is, you will have to provide some sort of customer support. Traditionally, companies have relied on telephone agents to assist customers with their issues, and telephone support remains the preferred method for providing service. But with the ever-evolving live chat functions being utilized by everyone from hotels to online retail, companies are beginning to look at new options for their customer experience.

Both techniques are great for interacting with customers, so we’ve laid out the pros and cons of each so that you can better decide what’s right for you.

Telephone

Pros

  • Customers still want to hear another voice solve their problems, this was proven in a study by Google that found that 57% of respondents call a customer service line so that they can speak to a human.
  • More personal, you’re able to come off sincerer in your responses.
  • Easier for agents to determine a customer’s state of mind, or emotional state.
  • Customers may be more comfortable speaking than typing, and as a result, you won’t have to decipher interpret choppy writing.

Cons

  • It’s harder for an agent to disguise their emotions, if a caller rubs you the wrong way and your voice begins to reflect that, then they’ll be able to tell.
  • A customer’s message can get lost because of bad cell service or a faulty connection.
  • Setting up telephone systems in a call center is costly, and it requires time for them to be fully operational.

Live Chat

Pros

  • Quick response, which means customers will wait less time for an answer.
  • Live chat allows agents to handle more clients at once since problems are resolved quicker.
  • Convenience is important for customers; a 2016 report by Econsultancy found that 21% of people prefer live chat because it allows them to shop while they work.
  • The ability to engage a customer the moment they visit your website via pop-up chat plug-ins; this is helpful if your company has an online storefront.
  • Opportunities for upselling if a chat is initiated at checkout.

Cons

  • Not everyone is proficient at typing, you can encounter spelling errors, sentences that don’t make sense, and customers that type very slowly.
  • Agent will have to learn to convey sincerity, or urgency through their messaging. Additionally, messages can be misinterpreted due to the lack of personalization (in comparison to speaking over the phone).

As you can see, there are many differences between live chat and the more traditional phone-based customer service. There are benefits to each, outperforming the other in different aspects of the customer experience. Your company’s customer service strategy should incorporate a mix of both for optimum results, that way you can reach more clients in a shorter amount of time while also taking time to dissolve any major conflicts. Implementation of both also allows you to stay in contact you’re your customers, which is important since according to an Ubisend 2016 report, 51% of people think a company should be available 24/7.

Remember, customer service is the face and voice of your company, so putting the effort into customizing an efficient, pleasant, and results oriented customer experience should be priority number one.

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Customer Service Team

Anyone who has worked in the customer service field knows just how stressful it can become, as well as how easy it can be to experience burnout. Customer service staff are the face and voice of your company, so it is important to be understanding and motivating in your support of them. Here are some tips for getting your team back to their best:

Communication

Maintaining an open line of communication between service staff and management is one of the most helpful things you can do. The impact of your representatives’ work on your company is undeniable, so it’s essential to treat them with respect by communicating well. The more comfortable your representatives feel about communicating with management, the greater insight management will have into making positive decisions for the staff overall. Having good relationships between management and your service team helps maintain morale, motivation, and support.

Encourage Positive Work

Every moment that you spend communicating one-on-one with one of your representatives is valuable. Management can often make the mistake of thinking of their representatives as disposable, rather than take the time to help them develop and improve in their work.

Take the time to provide encouragement to your staff. Let them know when they’ve done a good job, and give them plenty of constructive feedback when there is room for improvement. Connect with them, maintain that line of communication, and watch your representatives blossom.

Provide Your Staff with Proper Resources and Equipment

It’s easy to lower staff morale by accidental negligence. Make sure your staff has the equipment and resources to do their job correctly. Poorly-performing equipment (phones, computers, workspaces) can lead to delays and lower service quality, potentially decreasing customer satisfaction. Ensuring that your staff has the proper resources to do their job can motivate them to do their best work, which benefits everyone involved.
Providing thorough, proper training is another great way to ensure that your representatives are prepared to provide exceptional service. These trainings can help your staff develop skills, but can also be used to boost team morale.

You don’t have to wait for your employees to burnout to get them back on their feet. When in doubt, provide clear communication, support, and make sure they are taken care of. Additionally, you can ensure that you have a customer service team that is treated well and equipped with the proper resources by outsourcing your customer service work with a company you trust.

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4 Traits of an Effective Leader

There’s certainly no “one-size-fits-all” managing approach. However, it has been shown that when managers are focused on being effective leaders, their good habits are picked up by their employees. In addition to focusing on their own advancement and authority, good leaders should focus on providing genuine and positive experiences for their peers and team members. Here are six traits that help form influential and effective leaders:

Effective Communication

The ability to communicate clearly and tactfully is a vital leadership skill. It involves more than listening attentively and providing responses; it also includes asking smart questions, sharing important information, clearing up misunderstandings, and being clear and direct about your expectations. By being a good communicator, your team will have a better understanding of their role.

Empowerment

Truly great leaders understand that in order for people to do their best, they must feel a sense of pride in their work and believe that what they’re doing is meaningful. It is a good idea to communicate clear expectations (such as goals and deadlines) to your team, and then leave them with the authority to decide how that work gets done.

Vision

It’s important to have a look into your company’s future and create goals that make sense for that trajectory. Good leaders are optimistic, confident, and they look to inspire growth. Being a visionary means managing change in conjunction with a balance between growth and stability. It also means understanding that things are always changing, and that what has worked in the past may not work now.

Accountability

Successful bosses know how to use their authority and power appropriately so as to not overpower or overwhelm their employees. They hold themselves accountable for their own mistakes and expect others to do the same. They understand the importance of supporting individuality while still following the rules and policies that are put in place.

Motivation
The best leaders push their team forward with enthusiasm and passion. If you invest time in your people and determine their needs, priorities, and strengths, they will feel valuable and you will better understand how to motivate them. Make sure to show them that their work is making a difference, and continue to encourage the development of their skills with reasonable (but meaningful) goals.

Being an effective leader can be a challenging job, but it can also be very rewarding. If you’re looking to evolve your leadership skills, make sure to incorporate these five traits into your skill set. You & your team will be better off for it!

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Five Strategies You Can Do to Help Your New Call Center Agents Manage Their Average Handling Time

Average Handling Time

Average Handling TimeAHT (Average Handling Time) is one of the most important metrics in a call center. Simply put, a low AHT is one of the good signs that a call center is delivering great customer service.

That’s not in the least surprising. When customers call, they want solutions, and they want them fast.

Since it’s the goal of every call center organization to deliver a positive experience to customers, it only follows that you take the necessary steps to reduce the amount of time they spend on calls.

Here are proven strategies you can use to reduce average handling time in your contact center.

1. Strengthen your knowledge base

A strong knowledge base allows call center agents to pull up customer information and resolve issues with minimal effort.

When the knowledge base is optimized, agents can find relevant answers to even the toughest queries at their fingertips. This way, agents are able to close calls quickly, which in turn makes customers happy.

2. Record and analyze calls

A call center needs to have a system in place that records and analyzes calls. This makes it possible for you to identify which issues and questions are usually taking a long time to be resolved.

Once these issues are identified, you can come up with more efficient solutions to resolving them.

By training your agents to execute such solutions, average handling time can be reduced significantly.

3. Optimize call routing

One great way to reduce AHT is to optimize call routing. After all, a lot of time is wasted every time a caller is routed to the wrong department.

The best way to speed up your call center’s call routing system is to use a high-end automatic call distribution software (ACD).

When customers are always able to reach the agent qualified to handle their issues, it takes significantly less time to end a call.

4. Initiate call backs if necessary

Sometimes a customer will call in with an issue that is much too complex to be resolved immediately. Agents need to be able to identify such cases quickly since attempting to resolve the issue right then and there will only be a waste of time.

What agents can do instead is to initiate a call back at a time when answers and solutions to the customer’s issue are readily available.

5. Optimize the IVR system (Interactive Voice Response)

Recent studies show that more and more customers prefer self-service over having to speak with a customer service representative.

However, it can be frustrating to a caller when the IVR system eats up a lot of time promoting your brand’s wide range of products and services.

To optimize your IVR configuration effectively, you can start by structuring your IVR according to the customer’s perspective. Make your IVR scripts short and simple.

In addition, you can provide pre-recorded messages in a way where customers can help themselves better.

Final Word

While it’s crucial for every call center organization to reduce AHT to meet  KPI targets, care should be taken to ensure that the quality of service is not compromised in any way

A call center organization has to manage AHT the right way and for the right reasons, and you can pull that off by employing the five strategies mentioned above.

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4 Training Techniques to Help Your Call Center Employees be Better Salespeople

Call Center Employees

Call Center EmployeesSelling is not an easy job. Your call center employees not only need to say the right things, but they need to be also persuasive to close as many sales opportunities as possible.

As a business owner, do you wish that you can do more to build up their confidence in selling?

Here are four training techniques that will help your call center employees to be better salespeople.

Improving their knowledge of your company’s offerings

One of the biggest mistakes in sales training is how product knowledge seems to be under-estimated.

The truth is, your call center employees need to be the experts in your company’s offerings so they can answer any possible questions your customers will ask.

Thus, your training techniques must include ample time in making them learn the ins and outs of your products and services. In turn, they will gain more confidence in carrying a sales conversation.

Sell the benefits rather than the features

Product knowledge is just half of the story.

To become better salespeople, your call center employees must learn how to position features of your products or services in a way that encourages purchasing interest. In short, they need to know how to sell the benefits of what you offer.

That’s what is called features versus benefits.

While a feature describes what your offering can do, a benefit is about connecting with the need of your buyers.

For example, instead of saying that a camera has X amount of gigabytes of memory, sell instead that it can store over a thousand pictures of their most important memories.

In your training then, encourage them to come up with a benefit for each of the features of your offerings.

Handling objections

Many call center employees, especially those without any sales experience, would not like selling because of rejection. However, rejection is part of the game. Not every pitch can convert into a sale. Therefore, train them to have a positive, winning mindset.

Additionally, teach them how to deal with people turning down their offer by learning how to handle objections.

You can do this by listing down all possible scenarios that customer will decline the offer and write down good rebuttals to persuade them to change their mind.

Assumptively close the sale

Another effective training technique in helping your call center employees to be better salespeople is learning how to assumptively close.

Assumptive close means that you assume your buyer is about to make a purchase. Rather than ask, “Are you interested in our products?”, inquire instead, “How many units would you want us to ship to your address?”

The assumptive close encourages buying signal and creates a sense of urgency in the sales pitch.

Wrapping it all up

You can bring all the above sales training techniques together through role-plays.

Through role-playing, you allow them to practice different sales scenarios as well as use new and suggested spiels so they can work on how to speak persuasively. You can also provide valuable tips and give helpful feedback.

By giving them the chance to practice, you are ensuring that they can apply what they learned and become better salespeople when they go back taking calls.

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4 Ways Your Call Center Agents Can Help You Get More Business

Call Center Agents

Call Center AgentsSo you want to generate more business for your company?  There are many ways to do it, but if you want your efforts to pay dividends in the long-term, you will do well to invest in your call center agents.

The reason is simple: your call center agents are in the best position to improve and maintain customer loyalty in your business.

Why? Because they add that personal touch that other communication channels can’t provide.

Sure, customer loyalty can be difficult to quantify — but still, accomplished business managers will tell you that it’s the most valuable metric.

To drive home the point, a study made by Fieldboom concludes that “a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of 25%-95%.”

Without further ado, here are the four best ways your call center agents can help you get more business.

1. Loyal customers are an investment

If your call center agents consistently deliver exemplary service, customers are more likely to buy additional products from your brand.

It bears noting that customer support should be treated as an ongoing process. For one, customers aren’t just buying your brand’s products, and they’re also buying an experience.

As such, your organization’s customer support is a significant part of that overall experience.

When customers are satisfied with their overall experience of your product and services, you’re giving them every reason to be loyal to your brand. This opens up opportunities for repeat business.

2. Telemarketing

While current technology offers companies multiple platforms for marketing and promotion, telemarketing is still far from being considered a lost art.

TV ads, infomercials, emails, and coupons may be more efficient and faster, but calling prospects, if done well, can generate positive results in your marketing and selling efforts.

Why? Because calling is more personal. As mentioned earlier, it has the human touch that engages customers in ways no other form of communication could.

Also, prospects are likely to pay more attention when they’re talking to a live, breathing human being.

3. Acquire Valuable Customer Insights

Aside from in-person sales reps, call center agents directly communicate with customers, thus giving them opportunities to gather customer information you can’t possibly acquire through other channels.

Through call center processes, your agents can gather qualitative and quantitative data while talking to a client. These data include customer feedback, product issues, sales trends, and more.

By gather and analyzing these data, your company can acquire customer insights that will help you come up with better strategies for growing your business.

4. Generate Quality Referrals from Satisfied Clients

Satisfied customers love to talk to friends about products and services that improved the quality of their lives in some form.

This is why successful companies are banking on the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Existing clients can be your most effective marketing tool. For one, consumers tend to trust friends more and as a result, will take their recommendations seriously.

In addition, you can ramp up referrals by offering existing customers a comprehensive referral program. Loyal customers love incentives, and you’d do well to capitalize on it.

The best part about it is that this referral cycle continues ad infinitum, which should work wonders for your organization’s bottom line.

What’s Next?

By making sizable investments in your company’s call center processes and adopting a customer-centric approach to customer support, you are putting your call center agents in an excellent position to drive client satisfaction.

This results in more business opportunities, which should bode well for your ROI.

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4 Causes of Conflicts Between Your Customer Support Teams

Customer Support Team

Customer Support TeamAs much as you would like to run your organization of customer support teams like a well-oiled machine, you cannot avoid conflicts to arise among your employees.

This is because your business is made up of people. No matter how great your organizational culture is, misunderstanding and unclear communication are inevitable.

Your role as a business owner is more than just a peacemaker, mediating between two parties that are odds with each other.

For one thing, you need to make sure that you can identify sources of conflicts so you can prevent frictions from happening in the first place.

Here are four causes of conflicts between your customer support teams.

Unhealthy competition

When there is simply an unhealthy dose of competition, your workplace will always be rife with conflicts.

An unhealthy competition between customer support team means that your agents believe that winning is a zero-sum game: a team only wins at the expense of another.

The situation can lead to a toxic atmosphere where your agents no longer value mutual respect and instead are focused on grabbing whatever rewards being promised at all costs.

Lack of team spirit

Another source of possible conflicts between customer support teams is the lack of team spirit.

When your agents are not encouraged to work together or even reach out to other people outside of their teams, they are more likely to form into and stay loyal to their small factions.

They are more likely to misinterpret communication or may distrust the intentions of agents from another customer support team.

Vague instructions

Giving unclear communication is also another kindling point between customer support teams. Usually, conflicts occur when there are institutional changes that are happening or when roles and responsibilities are not well-defined.

Your employees will have a harder time understanding not only the instructions but also about how to deal with the change or the evolving roles of their colleagues.

A clear example is creating a new customer support team that can handle not only billing concerns but also do basic technical troubleshooting.  

Without any clear set of rules that define the extent of the troubleshooting required of them, the agents in the team may face challenges when their colleagues do not completely understand their new job and have unfair expectations about them.

Leadership conflicts

Another cause of conflict is when the people in leadership position have unresolved bickering.

Their conflict can spread to the rest of the organization when it is not given resolution immediately, as the parties involved may not be able to control their words or actions to each other.

Eventually, members of customer support team may pick up on the simmering tension and maybe, in the process, pushed unwillingly to pick sides.

Harmonious workplace

There is no doubt that a harmonious workplace makes your customer support team more productive and engaged.

Do everything you can to prevent conflicts from happening by maintaining great communication, resolving misunderstanding in a timely manner, building healthy competition, and urging your employees to collaborate.

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