Ben Juson – Evolution of BPO Industry in the Philippines
Last updated August 30, 2019
In this episode, Derek is joined by Ben Juson, the Managing Director of Aptus. Join us as Derek deep dives and talks about Ben’s journey in the Outsourcing Industry.
- Ben started his career way back in the year 2000 when the call center industry was not even known.
- He started to feel that there’s more to outsourcing solutions for this segment of the market when his previous company took out their technical support service for the small to the medium-sized clients.
- Ben believes that the industry now is better at nurturing the workforce that they’ve got.
- Former employees of big BPO’s have leveraged their experience and have world-class experience that makes their service delivered on time according to Ben.
- Ben shares that there was no such thing as non-voice, email, chat support or even the term BPO that even not existing back then.
- He mentioned that the advent of technology, the telecommunications, everything fell in to place which led to the evolution of the BPO industry in the Philippines.
- In 2000, it was a big multinational only that had access to outsourcing.
- Teleperformance has 200,017 employees across 340 locations across 74 countries.
- In the beginning, outsourcing was just like a call center function.
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Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. This is episode number 136. My name is Derek Gallimore of Outsource Accelerator of course. And today we are talking Ben Juson of Aptus, Aptus is a kinda high, value high boutique outsourcing BPO. Ben interestingly has been working in the outsourcing industry pretty much from the early days of the industry which surprisingly isn’t that longer it was in about 2000 that he got a job with Teleperformance. So it’s really interesting discussion about the history of outsourcing and I’m probably a little bit bias that maybe not that interesting in general, but I recon someone should write a book about the history of outsourcing because it really is, quite an incredible journey from a commercial perspective but anyway lets read a whole and a side note, enjoy this chat with Ben and of course if you want any of the contact details or show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/133.
Derek: Welcome back everybody, today we are joined by Ben Juson of Aptus, Hi Ben how are you?
Ben: All good, All good. Thanks for getting me in to your podcast, Derek.
Derek: Absolute pleasure. Thanks for joining us. Ben you’re a Managing Director of Aptus, Were gonna hear more about that of course.Can you, I supposed initially just introduce your self. You had a long and lustrous career in outsourcing, So I think you’re pretty much been with it since the kinda, the beginning of the industry so I really want to tap into your experience and knowledge in that respect. But yeah just introduce yourself and how you came to be the managing director of Aptus.
Ben: Sure, sure, well started at just like any other call center agent you know the very bottom of the organization. That was way, way back in the year 2000 when the call center industry was not even known. They don’t even know what it is all about. From there I rose through the ranks, moved by career into BPO industry, one department to the other to operation department, workforce, analyst quality finance which is developed and so on. Until such a pine when I was actually employed by this call center for an American computer manufacturer and it bond on me that there is no small and medium-sized outsourcing solution provider there that can cater to small to medium business outsourcing requirements.
Derek: Because it was just the giants back in 2000 wasn’t it, it was a big multinational only that had access to outsourcing.
Ben: Well, I don’t want to mention the name of the company but they do have a lot of clients in the small to medium space. But I started to feel that there’s more to outsourcing solutions for this segment of the market when they took out their technical support service for the small to the medium-sized cutting cost which is back during the American recession. So, perhaps there’s something I can do. Took me some time to get the idea to get us the ground but now is Aptus but how it all started.
Derek: Fantastic, and so what can you a paint a picture of what is like in 2000 because it sounded in some ways only feels like yesterday but actually you look back it’s kinda 18 years ago. It’s easy to forget quite how young this entire industry is really. It is really only 20-25 years old, isn’t it? What is it like back then?
Ben: Back then honestly it was like we were pioneers you know, explorers. All of us doesn’t even know what to do next. Our labor most in the Philippines go to the outsourcing industry back then, We kept changing our employment contracts but infrastructure is not as good as now. And we needed to do a lot of stuff back then just to provide service to clients in efficient in a timely manner. One moment you are agent taking calls, the next moment you are training the next batch. Imagine this is a big company, it’s way, way 7000 FTE’s now but back then we were just one floor in Ortigas Center. There was no structure. There just really no structure. I was agents of them the following day, my team leader told you’re doing a good job, starting tomorrow you’re a resolution upscale. I said ok.
Derek: And that’s kinda nice in an industry where there is, you know when the industry gets a bit old they get over controlled and over structured and over, his young industry when it’s all a little bit crazy. Everything a fly by the seat of your pants. Teleperformance and it says it’s got 200,017 employees now across 340 locations across 74 countries, It’s just, I mean it’s incredible isn’t it the size of this things and to think that when you joined it was kind of sort of try to figure the whole thing out.
Ben: True, True we were pretty much in the dark back then.We didn’t have learned development protocols on how you upscale the level of the employees that they brought. No one has experience in the call center experience back then. HR department has no choice except to grab someone out there as long they can speak good English. Train them to answer calls for customer service. And that how it was. Along the way you obviously, as you mention else, just like any other industry it will evolve, policies and structure will start to take shape. So now I believe the industry is, although it’s young, it’s now better at nurturing the workforce that they’ve got. Every BPO company I’ve come to know has some sort of learning and development of force or program. So, say you are a high school graduate when you got hired, after a few years you’re pretty confident that you can pretty much work with someone who graduated from reputable university.
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Derek: Yeah, this is why I encouraged people to come to the Philippines and outsource to the Philippines. You know there is new outsourcing destination popping up, you know you can go parts Africa and parts of South-East Asia but, there really is kinda 25 years of executive experience that you can into the Philippines isn’t it. I suggest that if people go with someone, you know like Aptus or Teleperformance, they really not just getting, you know a bum on the sit, they getting the kinda cumulative experience of the 20-25 years of the industry. It’s really quite a powerful thing, and people, I think clients they underestimate that the power of the knowledge and the knowledge of specialism.
Ben: I agree, I agree, I mean who actually come over if we haven’t built on that experience, so most of the small, medium BPO nowadays, I’m pretty sure most of them were former employees of big BPO’s and they leveraged on that experience and because of that, they, you know people from wherever part of the globe can be assured that these people have world-class experience that makes their service delivered on time.
Derek: Yeah, Absolutely, I’m trying to brand the Philippines as like the Swiss banking of outsourcing exactly because of that, you know it’s as India but there’s better cultural alignment, you’ve been doing it almost as long as India and I think there’s just a higher delivery, and you know there’s a lot executive experience some, kind of winning formula. And then, the name Teleperformance gives it away really and you mention this but you refer to them as call centers. And in the beginning, outsourcing really just kinda called center function.
Ben: True, there was no such thing as non-voice, email, chat support or even the term BPO that even not existing back then. As far as we know when we were at the agent level we were working to call center that’s it.
Derek: Right, and BPO, you know, just to clarify for those Business Process Outsourcing and it’s the concept of taking processes out of a company and becoming very specialized in them in whatever the Philippines and originally that was just call centers, it was just customer service. But now you seem a far broader, kind of provision of services. When did BPO become a kind of coined phrase by the way? I don’t know if you know that. What was the original, once it started broadening from just call centers, what was the original task that BPOs were taking on?
Ben: Basically back then it’s basically back then it’s all about call center. Honestly i don’t know what the exact year when the term BPO came into existence, But it started at call center then after just a few years when I got hired in Teleperformance, suddenly we were not anymore a call center we were referred to Contacts Center in industry because we were now receiving emails and chats not just calls anymore. And then just a few, not even months actually I think it’s weeks, suddenly the term BPO started to come into existence. But narrowly there are a lot of companies popping here and there, and it’s very menting what they can still outsource to the Philippines, So were namely specializing call center or contacts. We started to see other forms of operations that being outsource in the Philippines.Which is good of course because that provides a wider range of services for the global market to tap on, Right at the same time provide employment to more Filipinos.
Derek: Yeah, yeah, and I see, I mean it’s continue upscaling isn’t it and you can aqcuainted to like China when manufacturing started they were just doing basic buckets and basic stuff but now they are manufacturing iphones better than America could, and there’s a similar upscaling in the Philippines, you know before it’s maybe customer service and it was pretty badly because you know, there was and I still think there’s a hangover of people going “Oh we had Philippine call center and it was really bad” but, but that was the beginning. Now there are 25 years of increasing sophistication, but also then increasing skills, broadening skills and now literally every function within our company can be done with a kind of equal effectiveness in the Philippines.
Ben: I agree, I agree, so you mention about China, it’s true the only difference with China, obviously they are now the manufacturing center of the world obvious. That one was planned on how it evolves by their government, here in the Philippines going back to your question earlier, how did the BPO come into existence?, honestly, I don’t think you will find reference material or something that would completely say that it’s in this year, because of this, because of that, a lot of people will claim it’s them. Politicians or not. Honestly, the industry going on its own. It’s only in the past, what, 5 years that the government is actively supporting and regulate it. Back then there was nothing with it, it’s primarily was a private enterprise and it evolves.
Derek: Yeah, and you know the Philippines, I sort of mention this, the Philippines has had a difficult past, it was colonized by the Spanish then it had an issue with the Japanese, but also then the Americans after the war. It’s kinda brutal and unfortunate past, but I think because the alliance with the Americans then and also cultural alignment, religion, and language it just became the obvious choice didn’t it, and I supposed then it just naturally evolve as you said, because of the culture alignment, the culture alignment, the language alignment and the kinda existing relation with the US it just naturally evolve. And then also you can track it to the evolution of telecommunication as soon as it became affordably viable to have telephone line spanning the globe, then kind of suddenly pop up this call center stuff and as internet develop there are more, more task that was enabled by this technology. So it’s kinda fascinating, isn’t it? It’s interesting as you say that it was organic, I’m sure, as you say there’s a lot of people claiming the kinda glory of saying they seeded the whole thing.
Ben: True, Well, so you mention about the colonization, a friend of mine, CEO publicly listed BPO company in Indonesia (inaudilbe) that fortunately the Philippines have by the right colonize by the right country, The Americans if you said, so we got the english language, and of course the affinity after the colonization we, remains the businesses from the United States was the first one to actually outsource, compared to them they were colonized by what, another European country, not english speaking, it’s a wrong country. And they got colonize by another European country, another wrong one because nowadays who speaks Portuguese there isn’t that would outsource Portuguese speaking or what kind of language do you. So from there as you said, also in the place, with the advent of technology, the telecommunications, everything fell in to place which led to the evolution of the BPO industry in the Philippines.
Derek: Fascinating, isn’t it. And now, you know it is such an incredible industry isn’t it because it’s white collar, it’s professionalize, it employs a lot of people on relatively high salary and there are good career ladders and it keeps people at home instead of having to be sent off to the OFWs, it is an incredible industry isn’t it. You know this is what I’m saying to people overseas it is really recognized as that in the Philippines and there’s a lot of government support, So, to good industry to be in, isn’t it.
Ben: I agree, I agree. But the question now is from here, where does the BPO industry will go? I do believe that we are in another type of industrial revolution, that just my opinion. But I guess it’s the digital transformation happening around the globe, I think there’s more to the BPO industry in the Philippines than what you see now.
Derek: Yeah, Well it’s just evolving so fast isn’t it, and you know I think you can see that in your act as well, you know because 20 years ago you’ve been doing phone calls but now Aptus instead of, you know you’re leaving the march with AI, you’re doing a whole sort of merioded of high-value services. The whole thing is just changing so fast isn’t it as business generally but, Uhm, yeah so I actually wanna get you back we instead running a little bit overtime now but i wanna get you back to exactly discuss Aptus and deep dive into that and then maybe we could get you back again to deep dive into AI, and exactly where this industry is going. But, If people wanna contact you in meantime, how can they get in touch.
Ben: Oh just feel free to send an email at [email protected] or call us at or check our website www.aptus.ph
Derek: That’s fantastic, Thank you Ben and all of those contact details were in the show notes of course. Thanks for your time here.
Ben: No worries.
I hope you enjoy that. That was episode 133 with Ben Juson of Aptus. If you want to get in touch with Ben then just go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/133 or if you want to ask anything or get in touch of course just email us at [email protected] See you next time.