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Tech Replaces Workers in the Philippines

  

Tech Replaces Workers in the Philippines

As the tech revolution meets its climax in the Philippines, traditional jobs such as call center employees are being replaced by robots. Companies might be able to cut costs by downscaling their call center operations in favor of artificial intelligence, but customers value having a real human on the other end of the line, which fosters loyalty to a company, which makes the business more profitable in the long run. If you seeking help with your bank account or mortgage, and you call the help line of a company, how would you feel if you reach an answering machine rather than an actual human being?

The companies trend to downscale their human resources in the call center is mainly affected the Philippines, the call center capital of the world. Although you might consider India to hold this position, over the last decades American companies have opted to have their call centers in the Philippines due to lower labor costs and that they speak American English, rather than English with a strong Indian accent.
The Philippines might be over 10 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. but that doesn't stop the call centers employees from answering their phones calmly and nicely, as they work through the night.
Call center workers in the Philippines account for just 3 percent of the country's employed population, which is a low figure that has to do with the job requiring a high level of English. With salaries averaging $400 a month, call center workers earn more than service industry workers, which is around $285. Apparently, Filipinos stop studying because they know they can make more money in call centers if their English level is good.
Unfortunately, as automation technology advances - automating low-skilled tasks such as data entry - call center workers in the Philippines could lose their jobs. The revolution has already started and many companies are encouraging their customers to use chatbots, which are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to address basic customer service questions. For instance, Facebook messenger already hosts 30,000 chatbots from various companies that you can use to pay for meals or shop online.
Lately, the programs have become more sophisticated. For instance, the British company Celaton offers a technology system named inStream that refers certain tasks to human operators and remembers their responses. As video posted on the website narrates: “With each transaction, inStream is continuously learning, reducing the need for human intervention in the future.”
Automation might be good for business but it sure isn't for those that manage and represent call centers. Benedict Hernandez, the chairman and president of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, which represents nearly 100 companies that employ contact center workers, has said the industry is struggling with these technological advances and needs to re-invent itself in order to survive.
Referring a study from the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, Hernandez said low-skilled jobs in the outsourcing industry would decline by 28 percent within the next six years. According to Hernandez, however, most businesses in the Philippines have evolved past low-skilled tasks. “This is not a challenge but an opportunity for the Philippines to handle more interesting, more complicated tasks and come out a winner,” he said.
To meet these challenges or opportunities, however, the Philippines will need better-educated workers with excellent language skills. To that end, the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, vouched to invest in education to meet employers' needs. However, later on he cut the country's labor and employment budget to focus on the police and security services as the government is currently engaged in a war on drugs.
It's not a good time for complacency for call center workers. According to a research by an American firm, Forrester, automation will replace 6 percent of U.S. jobs in the following years. The report also predicts that the first jobs to go will be the customer service positions.
Craig Raines, COO of Sitel, one of the business process outsourcing (BPO) pioneers in the Philippines, said: “The question shouldn't be: is voice dead? The question has to be, how do you build a solution that drives the customer experience, that gets their issues resolved, process their transactions and doesn't leave you.”
Raines advised call center workers to upgrade their skills so they are able to work in tandem with artificial intelligence solutions, given that more consumers seek alternative communication methods like chat and email.

 

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