CONVERGYS:  THE  FILIPINO  CAN

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006
 (STAR) By Alma Buelva - If you’ve got it, flaunt it! This is like the unwritten rule followed by Convergys Philippines, one of the largest outsourced customer service companies in the country, which believes that the Filipinos’ talent in customer service deserves to be showcased worldwide and so the company hires them by the thousands.

With headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, Convergys set foot in the Philippines in 2003 and since then the local subsidiary has become its best performing offshore location worldwide in terms of revenues and operating income.

"People would ask why Convergys came here in the Philippines. It did because the clients asked them to. We get good marks on our customer handling skills... We have proven to the world that Filipinos can (excel in this field)," says Marife Zamora, Convergys Philippines’ vice president and country manager.

Zamora keeps a 100 percent Filipino management team, which is not very common among large US-based call centers operating in the country today. She says she recruits managers who can work with others, attract and retain talent, drive and accept change, and initiate innovative ideas.

"Relative to competence, it’s our mantra to look for someone with a collaborative spirit because you cannot work alone in this job. We also look at the ability of a manager to keep people because retention is a major success factor in this type of business," she says.

"They should also appreciate that change happens and we have to adapt. Finally, our managers have to be thought leaders. One fourth of our score card is allotted to the kind of contribution we have made relative to the continuous improvement of the company," she adds.

Convergys Philippines today operates out of seven sites in the country and has an offsite recruitment center in Manila and a separate training center facility in Makati City. Last year, it was named the Most Outstanding Employer among the companies registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. The award was given based on the number of jobs Convergys created in 2005 and also its employee programs.

"Convergys, for me, is like the IBM of 20 years ago in a way that it is very people-centric and how we value integrity. This is why the company has also been in Fortune Magazine’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies for six consecutive years," Zamora says. Career development To keep up with its growth, Convergys invests heavily in career development. Zamora says they follow a systematic career path program offering two ways to move up the corporate ladder.

"They can grow vertically in the program they belong to and get competency certifications or grow horizontally by graduating from the programs (operations) to join resource units or support functions within the company. We have agents who have gone to network and technology services or became trainers for specific programs or for communications and culture training," she says.

Through their initiative, Zamora says the local Convergys management team was also able to develop a Team Leader Development Training and Management Development Program. The latter, Zamora says, is a 35-day training program that includes mentoring, classroom training and continuous improvement efforts that a top-performing agent goes through to become certified as a team leader. With pride, she says it has been considered a best practice that has been adopted by other Convergys sites abroad like Canada.

On top of seminars, workshops and other programs to help a call center agent fully realize his or her potential, the company also maintains the Convergys CI (Continuous Improvement) Portal. This tool fosters continuous improvement among employees by sharing innovations that can improve the company’s business and that of its clients.

Convergys also maintains a Personnel Development Center website for team leaders, operations managers and top executives to access additional training materials. Using this online tool, Zamora says they were able to develop about 120 high-performing agents into team leaders.

In addition, Convergys’ trainers are sent to the United States and other countries for technology transfer. Since 2004, Convergys has invested about P5.65 million to train 21 Filipino employees abroad.

Managers can take advantage of the Business Consulting Learning Series to better understand the client’s business and become proactive consultants. At the same time, employees get the first chance to apply for openings within the company and move their careers forward through the Building from Within Program.

Looking back at the last three years, Zamora says Convergys has tremendously grown its business in the Philippines not only because it has a robust offshore business model, but because of the skills and talent of Filipinos that perfectly matched the requirements of the industry.

"The credit goes to the quality of human resources we have in the country such that the performance of the business has accounted for more growth and more clients. Our growth here is really a testament to the quality of talent we have in the country," Zamora says.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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