Did THAT Just Happen? Typhoon Haiyan Reminds that 'We Are All in this Together'
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Did THAT Just Happen? Typhoon Haiyan Reminds that 'We Are All in this Together'

“The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan is absolute bedlam.” – volunteer for the Red Cross in the Philippines

We Are All in this Together

It was just three weeks ago that I reminded attendees at ICMI’s Contact Center Demo & Conference that “we are all in this together”.  My intention was to point out that no matter what size center, or number of agents, or contacts supported, that we all share similar challenges with our changing customers, technology and channels.

We are all in this together.

As advocates of the customer experience, we are all responsible for elevating customer service. We are trainers, consultants, technology partners, managers, executives, workforce analysts…and we are offshore outsourcers.

We are all in this together.

Last Friday, the contact center industry was brutally reminded of this, after Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines causing a multitude of destruction across the country.

The Growth of the Philippine BPO

The growth of the Philippine contact center industry happened very quietly and very swiftly. Although the first calls weren’t taken until 1997, the industry grew by 15% a year from 2006-2010. The Philippines eventually outpaced the worldwide average and in 2012 surpassed India as the largest contact center destination in the world. Almost a quarter of the worldwide contact center market is located within this small South China Sea nation of islands.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) reports that an estimated 640,000 people work within the walls of over 1000 Philippine contact centers. Today that contributes 5.4% of the entire GDP of the Philippines, and that is expected to rise to 10% in upcoming years.

No matter what you think about offshore outsourcing, or outsourcing in general, the growth and impact of the Philippine contact center industry cannot be denied.

We are all in this together.

Contact Centers Weather the Storm

With wind speeds of 195 miles an hour, Typhoon Haiyan is unarguably the most powerful storm to date. Although the devastation caused was massive, it was concentrated in the central and eastern provinces where few contact centers exist. 
 
However, it did affect operations in the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, and Dumaguete, where temporary power outages and disruption in telecom infrastructure led to contact center closures, downtime, and higher absenteeism.

As someone who worked and lived in the Philippines for many years, I kept a very close watch on the storm. I was both humbled and proud of the way my friends in the contact center community handled their personal safety, while genuinely taking care of their employees, clients and customers.

We are all in this together.

It’s Not about Outsourcing; It’s about People

But today, this is not about the polarizing conversation of outsourcing. It is about the 2.5 million people that the UN estimates are in urgent need of food. It’s about the roughly 700,000 that are now homeless. It is about the thousands that are inquired and those that are still missing. It is about the families that have lost loved ones.

We are all one global contact center community. We are all in the business of supporting others. We are all in this together.

To donate to the Amercian Red Cross, please select their Typhoon Appeal Relief Fund.

For other charitable organizations, please visit 9 Ways to Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan.



Topics: Global Service Delivery

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