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Philippine Call Center Blog

Life as a Call Center Agent 01

Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is a life not worth living.” My life is a series of exams. Each day begins with a clean slate. I have a plan, but I don’t know the outcome. In reality, I’m writing with a pen so I can’t erase my answers but I can correct them. Whatever I do or say will affect the final score called success. I have to answer three questions: who am I, what am I doing, and where am I heading. I don’t know when the result will be and if it shall be given today, did I answer these queries well? If I fail, do I have one more chance to pass?

A year ago, I lost three things consecutively – my ESL job, my facial spa business and my father. At a certain point, I felt melancholic, discouraged and uninspired. Not knowing where to go nor what to do, my best friend named JK contacted me and offered me an opportunity to regain myself back. I waited patiently for the opportunity for a month. While sending off my brother to the airport, I received a message to report for an interview at one of the inbound call centers. I applied, and got hired but it wasn’t an ordinary employment. I’m the only employee who started working part time in the company, working 4 hours a day and got paid half initially.

In a call center, life is a continuing process of acquiring new skills and maintaining a positive attitude. When my cousin came along to help strategically manage the company, modifications had to be made to enable the company to grow. I felt threatened because I’ve been working for some time without a client. Yet, it was another challenge to prove my credibility. Some of us went through SALES 101 training. The training made me realize that in any transaction, I have to inspire, motivate, persuade and negotiate to close a sale. SALES 101 brought me a different perspective and transformed me to be confident, assertive and assumptive. I am proud working in a Philippines call center because I’m surrounded by indefatigable managers and versatile workers ready to adapt changes. Life in a call center is surprising, too. I would never know who’s going to pick up the other line. When the phone starts dialing, I asked myself whether I will make a lead or talk to an irate customer.

Mere acquaintances became good friends. We have lunch together, sit near each other and yet chat online to share a little secrecy. Some of my good friends left to look for a greener pasture while I opted to stay waiting for the next payday. Working in a call center is like conquering time and space. I increase my purchasing power but I live in a different dimension. I wake up when my kids go to bed. I work while the rest of the world has fallen into a deep slumber. I’m earning enough revenue to pay off my bills and save some into my bank yet has to sacrificed the sweetness of sleeping beside my significant partner in life under the dark velvet sky. However, along with this sacrifice is the realization of how colorful life in a call center could be. I could be laughing out loud with green-minded friends or working with a boss who sees things in black and white. I could be making a lead, waiting for a probable client or anxiously waiting to see the company grow. It dawned on me also that what comes around, goes around. I might have lost three things last year but I was given another present to cherish. In these times of economic adversity, I’m so blessed that I have a call center job.

My life in a call center is a test of trust and faith. It’s a test that confirms trust in my ability and faith towards the strategic plan of our managers. I have integrity to the management to lead the company to the right track. Now, I have the answers to the three queries I mentioned above. I am a Virtual Assistant striving to satisfy my client simultaneously working to improve the quality of my life. I could foresee where I am headed to. Someday, I would succeed with what I am currently doing in. If at certain times, I might have failed to write something on my clean slate, I know I have another day to do it again perfectly. I’m not afraid to fail anymore. If anyone wants to find out why I dare to be different, well I belong to the right company. Are you living an unexamined life? Tell me and I’ll show you the difference in Executive Boutique where you can find the executives making lives worth living.

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Is Cebu the next Manila?

Ever since the beginning of the call center industry in the Philippines,  when people think of a Philippine call center they think of Manila. It probably stems from the fact that many people outside the Philippines haven’t heard of any other cities and Manila was the birthplace of business process outsourcing in the Philippines. The cost saving companies can capture by moving their telemarketing and inbound customer support to this thriving metropolis is now well known.

What about the rest of the country?

It wasn’t often we heard about Cebu, the second largest city and major shipping port.But as Bod Dylan said the times they are a changing.

Many U.S. companies who are looking to outsource are now seeing the benefits of moving their BPO programs to Cebu instead of Manila.The island boasts a population of about 3.5 and most speak English very well.Cebu graduates 20,000 students annually from its universities and offers a strong, educated labor pool.

Cebu is exploding with job growth in the call center industry because of their strong English skills and high productivity. Job creation has been very strong in the outsourced customer service field. But call center agents are also finding work in sales lead generation, as virtual personal assistants and surveys.

Cebu has become a destination for educated job seekers from all over the Visayas, which are the southernmost islands in the Philippines.The call center industry in Cebu is also being helped by the islands infrastructure which rivals Manila in its high speed data connections to the rest of the world.

Cebu is not in an earthquake zone or typhoon belt, and there are no volcanoes on the island. Cebu has beautiful beaches, rich coral reefs and has become a destination for international travelers. Business leaders in the U.S. who are looking to outsource to the Philippines are smart to look to Cebu not just for its call center expertise but also for the beauty of the Philippines second largest city.

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March 12, 2009: New York Business Trade Show

Executive Boutique
Executive Boutique

Executive Boutique Call Center was a big hit when it exhibited at one of New York’s largest business trade show events outside of New York City on March 12, 2009. The event was sponsored by the Business Counsel of Westchester County, which has over 1200 businesses as members ranging in size from Fortune 500 companies to small family owned businesses.

Mark Shapiro, Director of Business Development for Executive Boutique (pictured above) presented at the show and focused his discussions on how small and medium businesses can take advantage of the outsourced customer service and lead generation services offered by Executive Boutique Call Center.  “Small firms in the US often need more help with these tasks but are not sure of the steps they need to take to outsource to an offshore location like the Philippines,” Shapiro said.   He also pointed out that using the flexibility and cost savings of a Philippines call center can give a company a great advantage over their competition.

Shapiro reported that the attendees he spoke with were most interested in affordable customer support along with sales and telemarketing services and he is looking forward to working with many of the businesses he met with at the show.

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Will Philippine Outsourcing change with the Obama Presidency?

Philippine Outsourcing
Philippine Outsourcing
© W.Scott / Dollar Photo Club

In keeping with the tradition of  incoming U.S. presidents, Barak Obama has made much talk about the outsourcing of business processes to other countries like the Philippines and Indian.  The average American is probably happy to hear that President Obama wants to protect US jobs from the world of outsourcing.  But business leaders may not agree with this.  It is hard to deny the economic advantages of using offshore firms to do work for US companies.

Firms who focus on telemarketing, lead generation and inbound customer support find it more and more challenging to handle these business processes at home.  Obama’s threat to eliminate tax breaks will probably not cause the great pull-back from offshore outsourcing that is talked about.

Obama has promised to end tax breaks to companies who send work to offshore BPO companies.  The new president is pushing a populist campaign promise to force American companies to keep jobs in the US, saying to US Congress: “We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”

The experts say this is all part of the usual rhetoric as there is really no direct tax incentive awarded to US companies who transfer jobs to other countries.  The US tax code does have a provision that allows American companies to defer income tax payments on offshore profits until they are repatriated back home, and this is one code that Mr. Obama does want to eliminate.

The Philippines does not seem worried.  Their call center and business process outsourcing are as strong as ever, and government officials are predicting a 30 to 40 percent increase this year in outsourcing.  Philippine call centers that specialize in customer service and outbound telemarketing have historically had high growth rates and this trend should continue.  As one business leader puts it “Tax breaks can’t substitute for the realities of economics”

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