CALL CENTERS: RP  IS  TELETECH'S  FASTEST  GROWING  MARKET GLOBALLY

MANILA, December 20, 2005
 (STAR) By Alma Buelva - TeleTech, a global business services company which employs some 5,000 call center professionals in the country today, ranks its Philippine operations as its fastest growing market worldwide.

Operating in 17 countries in five continents, TeleTech now has four customer management centers (CMCs) or call centers in Metro Manila, the newest of which is in Cainta, Rizal (formally opening in the first quarter of 2006).

TeleTech also now owns the Makati offices of FinSource, a Philippine-based business process outsourcing (BPO) company which it acquired last month.

In addition, TeleTech is in the midst of building its first call center outside Metro Manila — in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental where it expects to hire at least 500 people in the next 18 to 24 months.

"The Philippines is by far the fastest growing market for TeleTech worldwide in terms of absolute headcount… This year, (we performed) beyond expectations. TeleTech is really very comfortable with the Philippines," says Craig Reines, vice president and general manager of TeleTech’s Philippine operations.

TeleTech estimates that with the completion of its Cainta and Dumaguete facilities, it will account for the biggest area occupied by any single customer management provider in the country. The Cainta facility alone will take up over 10,000 square meters of floor space inside the Big R mall, enough to house over 15,000 workstations, Reines says.

Off to greener pastures

Beginning with the Dumaguete CMC, TeleTech’s future investments in the country will take place outside Metro Manila. This new expansion thrust mirrors the company’s view that it has made the most of the resources available in Metro Manila. This also means that TeleTech’s call center in Cainta will be its final facility in the metropolis.

"It doesn’t make sense (for us) to continue in Metro Manila as it has been tapped out," explains Reines. "To sustain a strong labor pool, we believe that additional expansion in the Philippines will be best supported in the provinces."

Reines says Dumaguete is an ideal call center site because it has four major universities from where they can source manpower and it has at least six commercial flights daily to and from Manila.

"Dumaguete has a population of about 250,000 which is big enough to support a decent-sized operation. It generally enjoys good weather and is also geographically near other places with similar features where there are opportunities to pull in resources from," Reines adds.

But the biggest attraction TeleTech found in Dumaguete, which also came as a nice surprise, is the higher English proficiency of the applicants from the province.

"Based on our pre-certification test, the English in the province is better than what we get in Manila," notes Reines.

So that its target regions in the country can deliver the right business environment it requires, TeleTech will work with provincial governments in developing growth plans. In Dumaguete, Reines says they are now working with an e-service council made up of local businesses, universities and local government units to develop manpower development programs. TeleTech also gave a P1-million performance bond to guarantee that it will provide employment to the province over the next three years.

"We asked the city to develop a growth plan that will create an environment that can support X number of jobs that we will guarantee to hire. We’re helping the city develop the environment logically by putting together resources like a teachers’ training lab for English or IT in the universities. The e-service council will meet once a year to look at the program’s sustainability… The renewal of the bond could be based on our performance versus our target or our success rate based on our hiring perspective," says Reines.

He adds that TeleTech has carried out similar programs in the US, Canada and other parts of the world to avoid having a place with too many players tapping the same resources, ultimately ruining the environment. He points out that foreign investors don’t come to the Philippines because it’s a low-cost job market, but because "most of us in these industries are performing well in the productivity arena."

Teleperks

Aside from being one of the country’s largest employers in this industry, TeleTech also wants to be known as an employer of choice.

TeleTech employees in the Philippines enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts in North America, Reines says.

"We have extended ‘Teleperks’ to our employees here. Leveraging on our big buying power, our employees enjoys discounts from Apple, HP and our other partners and suppliers. We are also increasing our community service programs and after-work programs and we’re doing major lifestyle enhancements for our employees."

And to disprove that there’s only so much room for professional growth in a call center, Reines says they have promoted 600 Filipino employees last year.

TeleTech expects to employ more than 7,000 Filipino professionals in 2006.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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