Thursday, 5 November 2009

For UK BPO, Pinoy worker is tops

Alma Anonas-Carpio
Business Mirror

THE Philippines has been selected as the primary voice hub of the United Kingdom-based business-process outsourcing (BPO) firm Northgate Arinso (NGA) because NGA’s clientele are “comfortable with the service from the Philippines.”

“From our perspective, the Philippines has been a very successful venue for our business,” NGA CEO Mike Ettling said at the CEO Forum Wednesday at the Tower Club in Makati City. “The Philippines is the business destination of choice for our voice services because of the high quality of education and English fluency, its affinity with the United States market and service-oriented approach.”

NGA specializes in outsourced human resource (HR) services running on German business software firm SAP’s HR platform. It offers software-as-a-service (SaaS) along with its voice BPO offering. Ettling said NGA’s Philippines-based work force handles “queries from our client companies’ most valuable assets, their people.”

Ettling said the delivery of such services requires only limited scripting, but is “far more complex and
needs more empathy [from our agents] and a more emotive response,” something that he said comes naturally to Filipinos, whom he described as having a “psyche of service.” He also said feedback from NGA clients includes commentary that callers to NGA’s Philippine contact center “feel a much more human touch. Filipinos have a natural customer service mentality.”

He noted that the “work ethic here is just phenomenal. When [typhoon] Ondoy hit, we registered no missed calls despite the heavy impact of that storm on Metro Manila and our personnel. This dedication to the job and the Filipino’s natural warmth triggered generosity from our clients and our employees at other sites.”

NGA is one of the world’s five largest HR software service providers and offers “innovative HR business solutions such as payroll, work force administration, benefits, talent and human capital management” services, such as the euHReka software. This software offers companies extensive control over their HR operations over the Internet, cutting costs for both in-house hardware and software expenses.

According to Ettling, “one in three of the UK work force receives their pay slips using NorthgateArinso HR solutions. Globally, the company has 5,000 employees and holds office in 31 countries, with the Philippines serving as their main Asia-Pacific office. The main office for NGA’s specialized BPO operations is located in Manila because the outsourced functions “work very well with Philippine culture and Filipino work ethic. It works so well that our plans to grow this market are very, very extensive.”

Ettling said his firm has seen “huge potential for success in the Philippines” in the three years it has been operating here, adding that this vision continues to hold true as NGA eyes expansion to higher-value knowledge-process outsourcing (KPO) activities over the next five years. He also projected that, after NGA infuses £1 million (P78.63 million) and moves into its new offices in Ortigas, the company will almost double its Manila work force from 235 to 400 agents by the end of 2010 and “treble that number” in the next five years.

He added that NGA’s revenues in the Asia-Pacific region alone stand at £25 million (P1.96 billion). In Manila, Ettling said that, unlike other BPO offices, NGA’s personnel attrition rate is just 5 percent.

At the forum, attended by the country’s top CEOs, Ettling said NGA seeks to create a reliable and standardized set of HR practices akin to standards set for the information-technology industry by the IT Infrastructure Library, which is a set of concepts and policies used for IT services and management services development and operations.

Besides providing more jobs, Ettling said, NGA’s internationally recognized reputation “allows Filipino workers to make use of state-of-the-art technology and training, improving Filipino skills to global standards.” The firm’s Manila Global Delivery Center, he added, “serves as the smartest choice for multinational companies, given NGA’s best-in-breed facilities, at a more economical cost.”

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