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Cultural Training in Philippine Call Centers

Feb 1, 2008
One of the difficulties in providing cross-cultural customer service is, well, cultural barriers. Oftentimes, there are connotations of words, metaphors, and idioms that are not being shared by different cultures. Thankfully, however, Philippine call center agents are very adaptable. It helps that ten percent of the whole Filipino population is working abroad. As such, Filipinos in general do have access to different cultures in the Middle East, in Europe, and in the United States among others.

Nonetheless, there are still a lot of cultural barriers that have to be surmounted. The very first indication of cultural barrier is, of course, in the language being used by one country. The Philippines is very much attuned to the culture of Western countries, especially to the United States. This is because the country has been colonized by Spain for more than 300 years while the United States stayed in the Philippines for 50 years.

Although this is the case, there are still different issues that have to be addressed by these call centers. As such, Philippine call centers work hard in providing cultural training to their agents. In the on-boarding process, the training department provides a briefing on the country that the agent will be servicing. This training includes basic information about the government, the economics, and more importantly, the culture of the society. Through this, the call center agents can have an overview of how the society of the country they will be servicing works.

As part of the training process, the call center agents also learn about slang words, accent, and the idioms and metaphors being used by the people in these countries. For example, a Philippine call center providing customer service to a company in Australia needs to learn about different Aussie expressions and words. Otherwise, the call center agent will only be baffled by confusing remarks made by the customers calling the center.

Imagine making a call to someone with a very thick regional accent and whose remarks are close to being unintelligible! It would be a very horrible experience. Not to mention, your concerns might not be addressed at all!

To address this concern, the call centers conducting operations from the Philippines have included accent training for their agents. The purpose of this is to neutralize thick regional accents and make sure that their words and expressions can be easily understood by the customers calling in from other countries.

Dealing with irate and rude customers is part of the training of call center agents. The call center would not want an agent spewing curses or engaging in a heated discussion with a customer. After all, the call center exists to provide service to customers and not headaches. As such, dealing patiently with customers, even if they are rude and irate, is part of this training.

In general, Philippine call center agents are able to adapt easily to different cultures. Filipinos are hospitable and this translates to the kind of customer service they provide to customers, even to those who are located abroad.
About the Author
James Stinson is Owner and Founder of Global Sky Inc. He employs a team of 50 in a high quality call center facility based in the Philippines. For more info on outsourcing your project visit: http://www.global-sky.com
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