The Philippines is the call center capital of the world.
The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is considered a major economic “pillar” and “lifeline” by no less than the national government itself, with an estimated worth of a whopping USD 18 billion as of 2014 (Oxford Business Group, via Business World Online, 2018)–and the numbers are projected to only grow in the future. This means that not only are more companies considering this service essential, but customers are likewise actively making use of it.
There are a number of reasons why a company might benefit from a call center service. For decades, call centers served as the primary means of customer support, directly connecting a company with their customers and allowing them to address the client’s concerns immediately and more personally. Call centers also lend a human touch to an otherwise impersonal relationship, creating a deeper bond between the company and its clients. In some industries, a call center service is absolutely indispensable, as in the case of the health care sector, or with companies catering to an older clientele. Businesses providing products that require tech support, such as appliances or gadgets, will likewise be served well with a call center service that can guide their customers through problems step by step.
Call centers can either be in-house or outsourced, depending on how great the company’s need for one is. For large, multinational organizations, it is more prudent (and simpler) to outsource their call center requirements, given the need to operate on a 24/7 basis, as well as the staffing needs that could easily number in the thousands, even ten thousands. Smaller companies, on the other hand, can hire their own in-house team of agents to man their telephone lines, especially if calls come in small volumes, and only within a fixed time frame, in a 9-to-5 schedule.
Whatever the case may be for your own company, there is no denying the great value of maintaining a call center service as a direct, personal line to your company’s clients.
Having established the necessity for a call center service, it’s now time to look at the costs and logistics of running one. Chief, of course, is the physical space needed for such operations. While call center companies and BPOs will naturally have their own offices, space remains to be a constant necessity in an industry that grows as rapidly and as continuously as the call center sector. Even the biggest BPO companies may not always be able to keep up with the ever-growing demand for the business, which is why outsource services such as seat leasing exists… and thrives.
In the same way that companies outsource their call center necessities to other organizations, call center companies can likewise outsource their own needs, workspaces included. Seat leasing is a common practice in the BPO world, for both small and big organizations alike, given how advantageous it is to have.
Most seat lease contracts are straightforward: the property owner provides a space for companies to expand their call center services in the form of fully-equipped offices, furnished with desks, chairs, computers, and even headsets. The most common seat least on the market is the plug and play type, wherein companies can simply bring their own tools (i.e., laptops and other mobile computers) and make use of the office’s desk space and internet connection.
The popularity of plug and play, and, indeed, the main reason why it is the primary seat lease arrangement call centers make use of, lies in the security. Sharing amenities and facilities is an inherently risky practice, even more so if you are working on confidential materials on a computer shared with someone outside your network. Fortunately, as modern technology continues to evolve, such longstanding security problems have finally been addressed, and modern shared office spaces are actually much safer than many people would give credit for.
At Weremote, for instance, our BPO seat lease has 24/7 Security Personnel available, CCTV that runs 24/7 too, with all day and all night staff on weekdays. We will also give each member a security card that will open the doors in the space depending on the member’s security clearance. We can also track all the members in the space using this Security Card which is integrated in our App.
We are one of the only coworking spaces in the country to provide this service, and we go above and beyond merely providing a physical space for you and your employees to work in. Our primary call center room has a seating capacity of over 90 agents (and growing), and there are a number of smaller offices perfect for smaller teams to work in. All BPO rooms are outfitted with all the basic equipment an agent will need, including desks, computers, partitions, and more, and companies have flexibility when it comes to choosing which services to procure. You have the option to pay per shift, making use of shared space, or pay per seat, to secure a dedicated area that is exclusively yours for as long as you need it.
And in addition to all these basic necessities, Weremote also provides a range of other amenities to make life easier for your hard-working employees. We are open 24/7, with free parking, fiber optic internet, kitchen and pantry (always with a freshly brewed coffee waiting for you), a well-staffed clinic (coming soon), lockers, shower areas, nap rooms and a gaming lounge. And in the event that you need to branch out of your rented office space, Weremote also has other areas designed to cater to a company’s various needs such as training and events rooms, meeting rooms, interview rooms, and even private booths to hold confidential one-on-one calls.
There are a good number of reasons why procuring a BPO seat lease is not simply beneficial, but actually the best choice you can make for your company.
Startup Companies, Listen Up
The biggest and most obvious advantage of a BPO seat lease for small and new businesses is the affordability. Space is a precious commodity, especially in populous places like the Metro, and small companies often have a hard time acquiring one for themselves not only because of the sky high costs of renting (and furnishing) one, but also because of the simple fact that there might just not be one to rent out in the first place.
Seat leases are the perfect solution in both instances. In addition to providing ready space for companies to make use of, these offices-for-rent also typically come already fully furnished, sparing you the expense of having to buy your own equipment. The monthly premiums in a seat lease arrangement are also generally cheaper than renting out a traditional office space, and they are also customizable to perfectly suit each organization’s unique needs, as in the case of Weremote’s BPO seat lease contracts, where we will work together with you to draft a completely new contract that is uniquely your own, based entirely on your needs and requirements.
For Established Companies
It may seem counterintuitive that established call center companies will have a need to lease office spaces outside their own, but in reality, it is a logical arrangement that many BPO businesses practice. As mentioned above, space is an ever-present need in the call center sector, and even the biggest BPO organizations with entire buildings, even complexes, to their names can still find themselves in need of more room to handle their operations.
As a matter of fact, few, if any, BPO companies implement a one-is-to-one ratio when it comes to employees and workstations. Employees work in shifts in order to share a work space, as it is impractical, impossible, even, for every last worker to get a desk of their own. This arrangement works great in theory, but it is not without its complications. A strict shifting schedule means that employees won’t be able to overtime without compromising their peers’ own work hours, and there’s also the matter of security concerns when using a communal facility, even within the same organization.
BPO seat leases solve this problem through their plug and play packages. Call centers can hire out a space where their employees can come in with their own gadgets and make use of the rental’s desk and internet connection. Such set-up works best for high-ranking employees who have their own company-issued computers and will need to work longer hours. Trainings can also be outsourced to outside facilities as it would give the attendees a well-regulated environment free from the hustle and bustle of the main office.
But while it is all well and good to have the necessary tools for your employees to work well, their actual performance will still depend entirely on themselves.
Perhaps one of the inherent disadvantages of having employees work outside your company’s own premises is that it can create a certain disconnect between the people and the organization. After all, a big part of fostering an organizational culture is integrating it with your employees, and this can prove challenging if your employees aren’t around. Fortunately, however, modern technology allows companies to circumvent that problem. Even if employees aren’t present physically, organizations can still keep in touch with their people virtually, allowing them to keep track of their workers’ activities.
And when it comes to boosting employee efficiency, solid communication lines with their superiors is one of the most important factors. Call center agents go through hectic and stressful work days on a regular basis, and their productivity can suffer as a result. Working in a leased office space away from their company headquarters can also lend to complacency among the employees as there is the sense that their company is not monitoring their activities. Nevertheless, boosting your employees’ performance is always in the company’s best interest, and it can actually be done in a few simple ways.
Let the Calls Flow
One of the first steps you can take towards this goal is to check on the machine side of things. Even the most effective agents will not be able to do their work if their equipment is malfunctioning. To prevent any backlogs from piling up, you want to ensure that your agents are working with tools and devices that can keep up with their workload.
At Weremote, our fiber optic internet connection guarantees that connectability will never be a problem for our workers. Our internet speed of 60 MB which is available through our 2 fiber optic lines will make sure you can work as fast as you need to work, with no interruption. In addition, our brand new computer systems are also top of the line equipment designed to keep up with any workload, no matter how demanding.
The one thing to take note of, especially if your company will be handling voice-related work in a coworking space such as Weremote, is to ensure that call rerouting is not a problem. While we are fully prepared to render such services, it is always best to mention this to management so it can be tailored to your specifications. Our premises are also staffed 24 hours on weekdays and you can rest assured that our IT team will always be there to assist you with technical concerns.
Leave Them be
While we wholly endorse open and active communication with your employees, it’s important to allow your agents the freedom to move without you telling them to do so. Problems sometimes resolve themselves, and this is likewise the case with agents experiencing slumps with their work. Giving your agent a degree of autonomy to work on their own terms has long been proven to improve their professional performance, thanks to a concept known as intrinsic motivation.
When you allow your agents freedom to facilitate their own tasks rather than spoon-feeding it to them, they are more likely to develop a sense of ownership of their work. They do their tasks out of an inherent desire to accomplish these, and not merely because someone ordered them to. When this happens, people tend to enjoy their work more and perform better, even when they are not under direct scrutiny by management. When they become more personally committed to a task, they are also more likely to persist with it even in challenging circumstances.
Micromanagement dampens productivity, so the distance that off-site working provides is actually to your advantage. While you may not be there to personally oversee every last task your agents are doing, it’s the perfect time instead to teach your employees self-sufficiency and independent thinking. Keeping open lines is only so that you could reach one another immediately if there is anything urgent, or to touch bases on activities that require teamwork; at the end of the day, simply leaving your agents to their work is actually far more beneficial than anything else.
Liven Up the Place
Call center work can be monotonous, but your agents are people first and foremost, and variety is a necessary part of life to keep them engaged and motivated. A barren workplace can kill productivity like nothing else, and they can even completely disengage your employees in the long run.
The physical environment (i.e., the office) plays a crucial role in your agent’s overall well-being, far more than you may expect. Bland, boring office spaces do no one any favors, and studies have actually shown that there is a direct link between an employee’s fondness of their working space with the quality of their work and the levels of their productivity. While you don’t necessarily have to install slides and mini golf courses (although we do have the equivalent of that here at Weremote with our game rooms), colorful motivational posters and a few bright plants here and there can already do wonders for your workplace. And we certainly have those in abundance at Weremote. From video game- and movie-themed meeting rooms, to accent walls with bright, pop arts, to aesthetic, top-quality furnishings, Weremote certainly provides its users with an excellent work space.
But more than the furniture and physical surroundings, it is also important that the very people your agent interacts with are conducive to your collective productivity. Conduct small team building activities to regularly make your working relationships more cohesive, even if it’s just small games members can play sitting in their desks. Doing a quick icebreaker everyday can also help your team get to know each other better, and recognizing each member for their hard work goes a long way in keeping them engaged, motivated, and, ultimately, on the same page as you. Weremote has monthly activities that will make sure your Team plays hard while they work hard too.
Let Them in on the News
Your agents may be working off-site, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be involved in the company’s activities. Start by showing them the actual effects of their work and the impact it has on the customers they handle. Provide them with consistent feedback and updates on their accounts. Review calls and other outputs with them, both the problematic and well-accomplished ones. Above all, keep them abreast of their performance matrix.
Cultivate a work experience for them where they do not simply show up to the office, sit for nine hours straight, and mechanically clock out as soon as their shift ends. Instead, make it a point to show them the real world value of what they do and how their efforts contribute to the achievement of the company’s goals.
Let agents know how they help the customers they deal with and what they add to the company as a whole. Don’t let them feel only like another statistic; instead, highlight their value as humane members of the organization. After all, when employees feel included and important to the company, they become more motivated to work harder and better.
When your employees are working outside of your office, especially for extended periods of time, it is even more important that they are drilled in your company’s policies and standard operating procedures. But more than that, it is even more crucial for management to recognize the different practices that are needed on account of the new work environment.
When it comes to improving business practices, the first point of consideration is always your employees. As discussed above, productive employees bring in good business, so your first goal should be implementing procedures conducive to boosting your workers’ productivity. Below are some specific practices that could help with that regard.
Start at the Interview
Most call centers hire new agents on a continuous basis, and you definitely do not want any bad apples coming into your fold which is why it’s important you exercise quality control right off the bat. Enforce a strict application process so that only the best candidates are accepted. Majority of your hires are going to be agents, serving at the front lines, and putting a face to your company’s and clients’ names which is why you will definitely want to be selective in who you accept.
Call Centre Helper recommends a “competency-based approach”, which structures the screening process so that candidates will work on tasks based on actual problems and situations they will encounter on the job, giving the hiring team a firsthand look on how well they can perform. A clear set of parameters should also be in place so that applicants are gauged based on an objective metric, and what qualifies as acceptable is standardized across the board. Having a well-defined set of criteria also maintains transparency throughout the process.
If you are an established BPO sending out a team to an offsite location, a similar “hiring” process is also worth considering when deciding whom to send out. Evaluate your employees carefully to determine who can perform well enough on their own, even without constant supervision, as well as who can be trusted to work with confidential files outside the company’s premises.
Train, Train, Train
The one practice that all organizations should uphold, regardless of the size or industry, is training–and consistent one, at that.
All companies understand the value of preparing their employees for their jobs, but not many see that this should be an ongoing practice, regularly held and constantly improved on. Agents may be taught, at the very beginning of their careers, what their spiels will be, how to deal with their customers, or even how to handle a difficult caller, but these are not stagnant situations that would stay the same throughout their careers. Customer needs are ever evolving, and your agent should be able to keep up with them. In addition to cultivating new skills, their existing ones should likewise be continuously honed and improved.
Seat leasing helps with this particular need. As new hires continue to pour into call centers, in-house training rooms may regularly be at capacity, which means current agents may not always have room to train. In such case, it becomes easy to justify a company’s inconsistent training plans for its personnel.
But when you acquire a seat lease to expand your BPO services, you instantly get additional office space. In some cases, the rented office even comes with additional amenities that can perfectly cater to your other business needs. In Weremote, for instance, there are several spacious meeting and training rooms that can comfortably host anywhere between 10 to 150 attendees, open 24 hours even on the weekends. You can include the use of training rooms in your BPO seat lease contract, allowing you to truly maximize the set up.
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and shoot for unreasonable milestones. You may be a new company, excited for the possibilities and seeing a huge potential for growth. Or you may be an established organization, looking to stay ahead of the game by pushing the envelope. While these goals, in and of themselves, are not bad, it’s important that you keep yourself grounded when establishing your objectives. When you blindly disregard your limitations, you’re not setting goals; you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Learn your restrictions, weak points, and the challenges you could be facing. Enthusiasm and fearlessness are admirable, but you also need to be realistic. Set reasonable goals, and use reasonable metrics to measure them. And on that note, be mindful when setting these parameters as you may overdo it and include performance indicators that aren’t actually relevant to your goals in the long run.
A good example of such is call quota. One of the top performance indicators measured in call center agents are the number of calls they make in a day. While there is certainly merit to this, it should not be an all-encompassing parameter, as the calls themselves might be of poor quality, or add very little value to your business. An agent may reach their quota of 20 calls a day without ever finalizing any accounts or resolving any issues, and the only thing they would have managed to do is unnecessarily prolong the transaction. Consequently, there may be times when an agent will have a low call count because some transactions take a while, but they would have been able to solve a major customer concern or snag an important partnership during that time.
In reality, the volume of calls can be quite a misleading gauge. In place of this, you can instead focus on other criteria such as call resolution, the agent’s adherence to schedule or how timely they turn over their deliverables, average handle time and average hold time, and call abandonment. These speak more of the quality of the calls themselves, and can more easily show you whether or not your employees are meeting the standard of quality you set.
Use the Right Tools
Inasmuch as you would hold your people to a certain quality of performance, so, too, should you ensure your equipment is working properly. Start by teaching your employees how to quality check their assigned devices, and make this check-up a part of their regular routine. Employees can examining their computers, desks, headsets, and other company-issued equipment everyday before they start their shift, so they can report any problems immediately.
Of course, management likewise has a responsibility to make sure the materials you provide to the people are in good working order, which is why you also need to conduct QA checks of yourself. If you are seat leasing, there is the added guarantee that the lease provider will also be checking their amenities, so you can cut back on your own inspections, particularly if you are working on-site and away from your employees.
Negate the Negative
Businesses today veer away from negative language for a good reason: it conveys a negative message to the receiver.
Phrases like “I can’t answer that” or “We can’t solve that for you” might be true, but they are indicative of a negative conclusion. Such words can suggest that there is nothing the company can do only because the agent themselves can do no more, even when it could be a simple matter of escalating the call or transferring them to someone else who could resolve that problem. Even something as innocuous as apologizing for putting the customer on hold adds to a negative experience, as it highlights the lack of action on the company’s end (i.e., leaving the client on hold).
Therefore, language is one of the first things you should actually correct in your business practices. Instead of saying “sorry for putting you on hold”, your agent can instead say something affirmative as “thank you for your patience!” to put a positive spin to the interaction by highlighting the client’s contribution (patience) instead of the company’s shortcomings (waiting time). While it is a small thing, it can go a long way in changing the entire experience.
Improving your business practice can start with something as simple as improving the way you state your business. If your current spiels include negative language, rewrite it to something positive and upbeat instead. Always use words that show action to assure the client that you are doing the best you can to address their concerns. And ultimately, positive words foster a positive experience for everyone, all around.
As the call center capital of the world, the BPO industry in the country is absolutely rife with opportunities. But for that same reason, it can also be an incredibly competitive sector, and finding your footing in this rat race is nothing short of challenging.
A BPO seat lease can be one of your biggest advantages. More than just a physical extension of your office, it can be an invaluable tool in helping you meet your growing call center needs. They provide a ready space that will allow you and your team to work uninterrupted, and they already come equipped with all your basic necessities–and more–ensuring maximum productivity. They are a cheaper alternative to traditional office spaces, giving small and starting companies a chance to flourish amidst a highly-competitive environment, and they know the BPO market well enough that even the industry’s biggest players will find all their business needs met, whether it’s a simple plug-and-play set up or an extension of their operations such as with trainings and meeting rooms.
Here at Weremote, we recognize that each and every company has its own unique, individual needs. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution, and our BPO seat lease contracts are not templated. We will work together with you to draft, completely from scratch, an arrangement that is based entirely on your needs and your terms. We are committed to helping you and your business succeed, and our state-of-the-art facilities and top-quality services are all in pursuit of that goal. Give us a call today at +63 917 623 3674 and +632 7216 3429 or shoot us a message at [email protected] to get you started.
You can also visit us at:
2nd Floor Metrowalk Complex
Meralco Ave. Ortigas Center, Pasig City, 1604