Anthony Kuhn – Growth of the outsourcing industry in the Philippines
Last updated August 28, 2019
We are joined by Anthony Kuhn of 247CSR in this episode. Anthony started his journey in the Philippines for a vacation and then seen the opportunity and decided to create his own company and stay here in the Philippines. I enjoyed our chat in this episode as we spend time talking about his journey and outsourcing service.
Founded over 12 years ago in the Philippines 247CSR.COM has been built up from client referrals. Trained and managed with western leadership it has become their mission to provide excellent low-cost voice and non-voice services to clients.
Derek Gallimore: Welcome to the outsource accelerator podcast. This is a short format podcast where we explore business and outsourcing mastery. My name is Derek Gallimore and I am really excited to bring you the leading podcast in outsourcing.
Derek Gallimore: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 220. So today I am talking to Anthony Kuhn of 24 7 CSR, it is a outsourcing supplier just outside of Metro Manila in a place called Batangas city. For those that don’t know and many likely don’t. That is a fantastic little city outside of Metro Manila, has some incredible diving spots, some of the best diving spots in the world, quite close to this, this city on the coastline there. So, quite a pleasant place. Anthony Kuhn has been here many, many years, 17 years I think. So we discuss his journey into the Philippines and into outsourcing in this episode and of course we spend a little bit of time talking about his outsourcing a service so I enjoyed our chat and I hope you do too. If you want to know any more about this episode, you can go to our show notes, which is an outsourceaccelerator.com/220. Enjoy.
Derek Gallimore: Hi and welcome back. Hi Anthony Kuhn. How are you?
Anthony Kuhn: I’m doing good. Thank you very much.
Derek Gallimore: Good. And so thank you so much for joining me here you are an American from Chicago and we both found ourselves here in Manila, Philippines recently. Just discovered that we actually live quite close to each other here in Rockwell. And thanks so much for your time. The founder of 247 CSR, which is an outsourcing supplier and you have certain skill sets that you specialize in. So I really want to explore that and see how that can be valuable for businesses, but first of all, it would be fantastic if you could just introduce yourself and people out there, a sense of how you found yourself in the Philippines.
Anthony Kuhn: I originally came here in 2001 to the Philippines and I came over actually on a vacation just on a holiday from Las Vegas at the time. And I came away with a friend of mine and we were exploring and that’s when the Internet business was just getting started in those days. Came to the Philippines. I love the people. Ended up in this area in Metro Manila and we were still doing business back and forth and I pretty, I wasn’t committed to being in a USA and then after climbing some volcanoes and the scored up the ocean, I decided, hey, ignore, I’d like to stay there and work. And I seen the opportunity to actually work with another call center. And at that point in time, I think I said to myself, I can do this, a similar business and provide products to people all over the world doing the same thing.
Derek Gallimore: Right? So the outsourcing industry, you, you have sort of seen it grow really in 2001, you know, it’s kind of a tech industry. And so we’re talking 17 years in the tech world, who really is, is a lifetime and the outsourcing has been going really only 25 years. So you’ve really seen this whole thing mature quite and how have you seen it change, especially in terms of the functions performed in outsourcing? Because originally it was really just people on telephone town. what, what some, how have you seen that the industry to evolve?
Anthony Kuhn: Well, yeah, that and that was days in deal is primarily the main outsource for or call centers volumes and back in those days, I think one of the biggest difficulties was the internet infrastructure in the area. And then once the major players started coming in to the Metro Manila area, that helped increase. So the development of the call centers did grow quite rapidly but that was a for companies that were interested in large groups of people in. Whereas when I started getting into the business, it was more of a smaller accounts. It was like one person, five persons, so it was a lot easier. It was nice to have that one on one with people. And most of the people that I was communicating with, it was just word of mouth. Hey, I, you know, I have been working with Anthony for a while and I still have actually some of those clients that I’ve been working with ever since then. It’s all about the long term business. But the challenge always, as it’s growing with the call center business and even today with artificial intelligence coming into play, there are, there are some challenges but as long as you have a solid relationship with your clients and you’re very transparent and honest and you meet each one of their individual knew the needs, I think that, I think there’s still a great opportunity to keep going here in the Philippines.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. When I’m going to get your opinion on automation and robotics and AI, it’s a big talking point here in the Philippines where we can maybe leave that till a little bit further down to the story. But yeah, definitely you know, their problems. Thinking about it and talking about, in 2001 can you do people an insight into, because now everything is so easy. Everything is kind of a membership based, everything is in the cloud. What sort of, and really the reason why outsourcing was only available to the big guys in the beginning. It was because you had to build the facilities, put in a service, you know, bring in all the hardware. Whereas now everything is really just, you know, kind of, you subscribe to it. What was it like in 2001 was it still really massive hardware server job to, to get things off the ground?
Anthony Kuhn: Yeah. For some of the hardware requirements. And then, and then one of the things, unless you had actually people that were specific the trend, which was a difficult part as far as your IT directors, and then there were so many different suppliers or different products. You had, you, your different, call center softwares and, and I believe most everybody has progressed and you’ve learned. So that’s the nice thing over being here over time as you’ve had a lot of opportunities to perfect your systems a year redundancy is just in case here’s power disruptions just to, just to make everything completely redundant. But I would say the finding the key people and keeping those people once you’ve identified them and then, and then letting them grow with your company, that was the biggest advantage. And I still have actually some of the people that have been with me for from the very beginning handling my operations.
Derek Gallimore: Right. It’s a, it really has evolved isn’t it? John Kaplan of teledevelopment. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but he came from US about 25 years ago. He was saying the first outsourcing salaries, well the first packaged prices were about $78 per hour and there’s 25 years ago apparently. And if you can just see now that price competition and with everything in trimming down, you know, he’s incredible.
Anthony Kuhn: The competition. I actually and there is a different style of different, I mean you have your large outsourcing corporations, but after a while a lot of people were like, Hey, we see this happening. And everybody wanted to believe they could open up a call center. Because they were seeing the growth, the trip that everybody in some of the people that couldn’t do it properly, it was a state has had for infrastructure. And if you didn’t set it up properly, get the new, you’re explaining to a client, yeah, we can do this for you, we can do this for you and then they, the client, I said, okay, go and let’s do this. And then they couldn’t perform it. That ended up putting in some bad situations I would imagine for some people that really wanted to outsource. And nowadays there’s just, there are wide a large amount of companies that are doing this now from all different sorts of companies, from Australia, from the US your clients, which we made to deal with.
Anthony Kuhn: It’s just the western countries but me being here and being able to communicate directly with the clients personal choices and saying, you know, I’ll tell them about it. Either we can do this for you or we can’t do this for you. We don’t really specialize on a programming that the CSR really stands for. Customer Service representative. And that’s what we wanted to provide. We want to have these hair standing and bile and outbound services. And then we kind of expanded from there into some of the non voice and the other options. But yeah, there is quite a bit of competition and I think clients would like to speak with somebody directly and not just here. Yes, yes, we can do it just to get the business. And it’s, for me it’s all about long term relationships with people.
Derek Gallimore: And how have you seen that clients appreciation and understanding and even acceptance about outsourcing evolve over the last 20 years? Because I’m, I’m still playing advocacy and educational role of trying to convince people that outsourcing is really worth looking at. have you seen it evolve?
Anthony Kuhn: Well, yes. And I do understand why some people would have some hesitation on outsourcing. There are some barriers to entry. They’re scared. It’s on the other side of the planet. We’re going to commit some money. So, my approach has always been, but let’s discuss your account. Tell me what you mean. I’ll be glad to get everything started for him, you know, no money down, let just move this forward. And and then when I know that client is happy, then I usually get things started for him right then and there. But one of the barriers of entry has always, there’s been, you know, like in any business, there’s some people that have been doing it right. And then there’s some people that haven’t actually done it right. And I always believed, you know, take care of the client and their needs and make sure they’re well taken care of. Aand then as long as you have an open communication with them, you know, still get on the phone, still talk to somebody versus just sending an email to them, you’ll always have a good relationship.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. And I think that’s the way it’s going to be a wall before you lose the humans within the business relationship. Because it really still comes down to the, the account management and the relationship and the, and the understanding because it really is a partnership. There’s no, people don’t realize the extent to which an outsourcing relationship as a parent,
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Anthony Kuhn: one of the benefits that I see, like if, if a company in Australia or Canada or the US and they want to experience, but really their time is spent, should be focused on more of their core business, so that they can concentrate their time on, you know, better increasing sales and finances. And a lot of that outsourcing began as saying, I have a lot of repetitive tasks or I can’t answer my phones 24 hours a day or I can’t do this. So that’s really where a lot of it began was saying, Hey, look, I’m just really busy. I need to focus on my other stuff. Can you guys take care of this for you? And then, once they realize, wow, that’s really nice, I can start adding a few more things. So that actually has been one of our specialties is picking on these small and medium sized clients, that the order, the, the big guys so to speak, that will not accept smaller clients. We’ve kind of specialized in that and it’s nice to have that one on one relationship that you have to have believability with your client. And that’s what I do. I speak to every single client that I am.
Derek Gallimore: What do you find, you know, I think we’re, we’re believers in getting people over the first hurdle, getting them a quick win. So, you know, they see the outsourcing works. How, what, where do you see the lower hanging fruit for success within outsourcing for the average Joe with a, with an average business,
Anthony Kuhn: Number one is, is just at its believability. Once I, once I can speak with them one on one, I can evaluate their website or their names and we decided, yeah, we can definitely manage this task right. The second, the second one would be price. They don’t want to, it makes no sense to outsource something if the price is going to be too high. And again, for a while the competition nowadays, everybody is more competitive under prices. I think we’re probably pretty solid on that. Once we moved out of the Metro Manila area, he mode about 90 minutes off to the Batangas City were pretty much the main player in that area. so we have a lot of long term agents that are with us right now, but once you can, speak with your client, explained to need, show them that you can do it and they have that believability, then they’re more than happy to do it. And most people are usually, we’ll start out with a couple of people. Nobody very rarely start tiled and said, hey, I need 50 people right away though. That does happen. But it is a quite of a lot of investments as well. Even in the Philippines when you’re outsourcing large group, most people want to build up into that. They wouldn’t mind doing it, but they want to start small. Hey, let me make sure this works. And then we go from there.
Derek Gallimore: And it’s about minimizing the risk and exposure and the, and the kind of the big jumps isn’t it? It’s just about easing people into it and you’re getting wins.
Anthony Kuhn: Once they feel comfortable with it or they’ve, they have that movability and they say, okay, I see this working and it’s working seamlessly, you know, because everybody hits their business. It’s their livelihood. They, they, they don’t want to have hand it over to somebody and then something goes wrong. The ones that are comfortable with it and see it’s going to work, they usually expand from there. And I started adding a few more, a few more people, and that’s where the word of mouth comes in. That’s the best thing that I could have. His plan referrals when they’re like, Hey, my friend, can use a couple of people. Can you do that for him? I’m sure no problem. We’ll take care of that for.
Derek Gallimore: And it’s time to combine that excitement, isn’t it? When people start outsourcing, they have their initial fear and uncertainty, but then it works out and they look at the costs. And the second so much and they can ramp up. Incredible, It’s an exciting period for people.
Anthony Kuhn: Nice. And that’s what, that’s what the best part for me is that I do have those clients that they started with me with one person or two persons, three persons and now they have been with me for years and to then it’s just such a peace of mind that are like, great, thank you and I’m going to have great relationship. All of my clients. And then again, like I said, referrals and stuff like that. So I still get excited even if it’s even one person or two persons to onboard a new client because she just never known this business grow with the business. And you becoming a tech come at the businesses. Yeah, we’re definitely part of their business and they enjoy it. They have peace of mind. They know that we’re always going to be there for them, instant communication with me. Even me, I’m available 24, seven, just like our website even I’m on the opposite side of the world. It just uses a lot of things for the client not to have to worry about anymore. They know that we’re going to, they’re going to be taken care of.
Derek Gallimore: So we’re gonna, get you back and we’re going to really deep dive into 247 CSR and the venue proposition. but you know, what is 247 CSR, what is the, what is your sweet spot and you know, where do you sort of sit within the market?
Anthony Kuhn: Well, so when we started out it was manly as an inbound customer support business. And now our clients were asking us can we do outbound selling? May expanded inbound, outbound, so our, our focus who was on phones. but again, I believe each and every client that approaches, that’s all over the world. They all have unique, it’s not a cookie cutter operation and they want to know that, hey, is this going to be done the right way? But as we grew into it, we started expanding into today on data, all sorts of data operations as far as transcription data, coding, lisc leanings again. And we’ve learned as we’ve gone with our clients, each client comes up with a unique proposition. Once we’ve evaluated it and we said, yeah, we can manage this for you, we’ll give it a test gum and then, you know, you, you end up building more knowledge with your people. But as far as our, our local network goes, it’s all about having really good people. Again, the people that have been with me for 10 years now, they know how it runs and then being in there seven days a week. But my business starting it in developing it, I believe I know what the US clients one and not when I staff also is very familiar with the entire process and it goes the same way.
Derek Gallimore: And that’s, you know, again, what I, what I try and let people know about is that people are getting a bit bright bring to. But within that there’s, there’s your 17 18 years of experience and you know, it’s kind of sitting on the shoulders of the experience of the entire Philippines outsourcing industry. There’s incredible expertise within this industry as in the end. And you can leverage that to help people’s business?
Anthony Kuhn: Yeah, mostly I believe that if a client contacts me, from the US or Australia or whatnot, they want to know that there’s somebody on the ground that they can communicate with directly. You know, they have to have that believability factor. Just like, references, on, I’ll call a like a travel booking website for example. It’s a lot more believable once you’ve seen people that have been here. So having me here and then speaking directly with the client, it really puts their mind at ease and then they’re more than welcome to come over and visit and see our operations. But it’s a lot about believability.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much. So Anthony, if anyone wants to learn more about 247 CSR or get in touch with you, how can they do the, and of course it will be in the show notes and
Anthony Kuhn: yeah, they could just go to www.247csr.com we do phones, email, live chat, ticketing system. We have all our entire systems, but just go ahead and go to our website and or they can contact me directly and I’ll be the first one that we’ll call them back right away.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. Excellent.
Anthony Kuhn: All right. Thank you.
Derek Gallimore: Okay. That was Anthony Kuhn of 247 CSR. If you want any of the show notes, if you want to know any more about what we discussed, go to our show notes, which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/220 for this episode. And as always, if you want to ask us anything, then just drops an email to [email protected] See you next time.