Call centers unfazed by strong peso

By Jennifer A. Ng, BusinessMirror

Posted at Sep 13 2012 07:48 AM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 08:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the appreciation of the peso against the US dollar that could cut their profit margins, call centers are not sounding the alarm bells and say that they remain confident of doing brisk business in the Philippines.

The Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said in a press briefing on Wednesday that they are not “overly concerned” with fluctuations in foreign-exchange rates. The peso opened at P41.61 to the US dollar also on Wednesday.

“We are carefully monitoring [the exchange rate] but it is not yet a concern for us. There’s still a significant preference for voice services offered by the Philippines even with the fluctuating peso,” CCAP President Benedict Hernandez said during the media launch of the International Contact Center Conference & Expo (ICCCE) 2012 held in Makati City.

The quality of service given by Filipino call-center agents and their skills, according to Hernandez, are major reasons the country remains as the top destination for voice services.

CCAP Executive Director Jojo Uligan, however, said while call centers do not find the peso appreciation alarming, he warned that the appreciation of the peso to below P41 against the dollar would be disastrous for call centers.

“Our operation expenses are in pesos but we bill our clients in US dollars. If the peso continues to appreciate, we have no choice but to increase our pricing,” Uligan said in an interview.

He added that charging higher rates for existing clients of call centers could pose problems, making it difficult for call centers to immediately recoup their losses.

“You can charge higher rates for new contracts but for existing clients, it could be problematic. You also have to manage cost,” Uligan said.

The appreciation of the peso and other developments that impact on the business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry will be tackled on September 18 and 19 during the ICCCE 2012 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

ICCCE is the flagship event of the CCAP, the trade group that represents 81 global and local contact centers operating in the Philippines.

The expo will feature speakers and panelists from leading BPO firms, such as SPi Global President and Chief Executive Officer Maulik Parekh, Cognizant Philippines Global Insurance BPO Head and Country Head Prabhakar Bisen and Genpact Services Llc. Vice President for Analytics Manish Chopra.

Aside from plenary sessions and panel discussions, CCAP said there would be 12 functional topics covering operations, people management, technology solutions and career development at the track sessions on September 19.