Call centers now demanding ‘near-native’ English speakers

MANILA -- Call center applicants should learn to speak English with American, Australian, or British accents as business process outsourcing (BPO) clients have expressed preference for “near-native” English speakers.

During the formal launch of Teleperformance`s 19th site in the country on Thursday, Teleperformance Philippines Managing Director Travis Coates said hiring talents for voice-related services have become more difficult with the increasing requirements for English language skill set.

“The requirements for the English skill set continues to increase. The abilities and capabilities continue to increase. And I wouldn’t say necessarily that we‘re seeing as much supply around that specific skill set as perhaps we have in the past,” Coates said in a press conference.

“Some of our clients would tell you that they want as ‘near-native’ English skills as possible. We’re clearly not near-native,” he added.

He noted that some clients want their customers to “not necessarily know where the calls are being handled”. “Not to (the extent) that it’s a negative thing about the Philippines or anywhere else. They just want their English language skills to be very similar to what they can get in the US, as an example,” Coates noted.

“The requirements have gone up in terms of the skill set and the demand continues to drive even higher,” he added. Coates said Teleperformance Philippines continues to develop the skills of its 40,000 employees to meet the demands of their clients. The Paris-based BPO firm’s local facilities mostly cater to English-speaking markets.

Teleperformance Philippines is present in 19 centers located across Metro Mania, Antipolo, Baguio, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, and Davao. Its newly opened site occupies nine floors at Vertis Tower 1 in Vertis North in Quezon City. The facility can accommodate 3,000 employees.

The company services industries such as retail, hospitality, telecommunications, technology, travel, broadband, media and entertainment, health care, financial, and customer service. Coates said the company remains bullish in the Philippine market and will continue to expand in the country, particularly in the provinces. (PNA)