Understand culture of foreign clients, BPOs told

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Monday, April 14, 2014


AN international consulting firm advised business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in Cebu specializing in voice services to study and understand the culture of foreign clients to better meet their business needs.

Sunil K. Jha, managing director of Australian firm Akiko Business Consultants, told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview that call center agents must not only be good English speakers but also be knowledgeable about their clients’ culture.

“There’s a specific way of talking and dealing with people from different countries,” Jha said, adding that this awareness will add value to the local call center agents and strengthen the BPO industry in the Philippines.

He encouraged BPO companies to invest in training programs if they want to elevate their services, especially now that Cebu has been positioned as one of the most ideal places in the world for BPO services.

For this year, Cebu placed eighth on the Tholons Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations list.

Akiko Business Consultants also put up an office in Cebu in 2012, located in the Keppel Tower in the Cebu Business Park. To date, it has 10 employees and its office focuses on voice services and chat support.

Jha said that by 2018, the company expects to add 300 to 500 employees.

Akiko Business Consultants is also present in India, which provides data services, while its Australia office offers consulting.

To date, it has around 55 clients worldwide, ranging from startups to large companies in the utilities, fitness, retail and construction sectors, among others.

Training

Despite its competition with other call center companies that have entered Cebu, Jha said that Akiko is willing to conduct training, especially on cultural awareness.

“There’s nothing wrong with teaching your competitors because if they can improve their services that would even be better for us….that means there is a good competition and better quality agents in the Philippines,” Jha said.

As a consulting company, Akiko Business Consultants in Australia “analyzes and reengineers” the business environment of clients to make them more cost-effective.

“The training that we do over here is at par with trainings in Australia,” he said.

“I’m not offering them (clients) a cheap call center but a cost-effective call center.

We offer more competitive salaries and that will continue to grow as they (call center agents) continue to be in the business,” he said.

Jha also said he expects that while call centers will continue to drive the industry’s growth in Cebu, emerging data companies will also support that growth.

Next month, he said, Akiko Business Consultants will open an office in the United States, which will focus on sales and development. In the next six months, the company plans to start hiring employees to join the first batch of Akiko’s call center agents in Cebu.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 15, 2014.

Business

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