Philip Lew – Outsourcing white collar work
Last updated August 28, 2019
Today’s guest is Philip Lew of C9 Digital. We deep dive into C9 digital and we explore really what that is and what it offers to prospective clients. I really enjoyed this conversation and learn a lot about showing people the opportunities out there.
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. This is episode number 234 and my name as always is Derek Gallimore. So today I’m joined again by Philip Lew of C9 digital. We previously spoke to Philip in episode 222 so if you want to hear his backstory and hear how he came to find himself, he’s a US guy, found himself here in Manila, Philippines. Go back and listen to that episode. But today we talk about, uh, we deep dive into C9 digital and we explore really what that is and what it offers. Um, prospective clients. Now this is, as I mentioned, an infomercial. Um, it is really about showing people the opportunities out there. And I’m sure after you’ve listened to this, you’re really kind of be inspired by, um, the, the brains behind some of these operations. So I really enjoyed this conversation and learn a lot. If you want to know any more about what we talked about, go to our show notes, which is an outsourceaccelerator.com/234 for this episode and enjoy. All right.
Derek Gallimore: Welcome back everybody today. I’m super excited to be joined by Philip Lew again. He is the co founder of C9 digital. Hi Philip. How are you?
Philip Lew: Hey, how are you? Derek?
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. And where, uh, we’re both sitting here is, um, just after Christmas the work because work is kind of getting back into season now. Um, and we’re really both excited about 2019 I can assume. Um, it’s, it’s really exciting to be a part of outsourcing isn’t it? Because there’s just so much kind of upside, so much growth in the industry. Um, how have you enjoyed being a part of the outsourcing industry and, and, um, how do you sort of feel the general sentiments are?
Philip Lew: Yeah, I think, um, you know, I think outsourcing is one of those industries where the more you learn about it and the more you kind of open up the hood and sort of really understand the various components and how it works and how it, it sort of integrates into this whole thing that we call this global economy. I think it’s fast, C9 Digital, and, and the potential is just so right because the industry is not only growing but the, but the rate at which it’s growing is also accelerating. So, um, I think the opportunities are there for both, um, companies that provide outsourcing services and companies are looking to outsource their services.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. It’s, it’s, I think we’re really at the crux of the, the evolution of the employment market out me and, and I think as the world becomes more globalized and there’s kind of 7 billion people starting to all get online and interact and become one marketplace, then outsourcing is really kind of at the epicenter of that. Um, you know, and it’s really, it is exciting isn’t it? Because things are really changing fast. How people employ people, how people set up businesses, how people trade internationally. It’s kind of all changing by the day. And outsourcing is a, is a product of that and I think is really at the forefront of, um, of all this change and it’s just providing incredible opportunities for people in the west businesses in the west. Um, but also of course the, the developing and emerging economies as well. Yeah.
Philip Lew: Yeah. I mean if you just take a look at history, uh, you know, I think history shows us clues to, to what’s happening because if you think about even at the, in the earliest 20th century, um, during the industrial revolution, that was a time when, when companies really start to get a foothold in industries started to develop. And at that time, um, in history, it was all about the concentration of labor in the concentration of knowledge and the concentration of business capabilities and patents all inside, um, on shore entities, all inside companies. And this took place really into, into about the forties and the fifties. And then we saw, I think from the fifties going into the 80s, a shift where companies started to realize that, wait a second, you know, we’re doing all these different things in order to run our businesses, advertising, accounting payroll, customer service, um, back office work and in order to compete and in order to drive profits.
Philip Lew: Um, there was this insight that, hey, maybe we should try outsourcing and try specialize in. And I think that happened for, for many decades. And I think actually it was really unique about outsourcing was, I think, you know, in, in the early, in early 2018 we actually saw a reverse trend where a lot of companies on right after the recession of 2008 companies started to reverse and actually bring work back on shore and I think a lot of that was because the pace of outsourcing was so fast and so many companies were looking to outsource, um, that a lot of the relationships behind the outsourcing I think, um, weren’t really being done properly. And a lot of companies who wanted to outsource but didn’t really understand how to outsource. We’re having bad experiences outsourcing. Um, and so outsourcing to almost got a little bit of a bad bad rep I would say.
Philip Lew: Um, but now we’re actually starting to see, again, this trend of, again, reacceleration of outsourcing and you see it in the Gig economy. You see it, um, in, in the BPO industry. Um, and you see it of course with automation and artificial intelligence. Um, and so, you know, obviously the advent I think of AI and automation, um, is what it’s showing us is that, um, outsourcing is not isolated to just simple customer service tasks or simple BPO tasks. But we’re starting to see even now creative work and what we could call white collar work. I’m starting to get outsourced. And so again, it creates a very unique opportunities for those who are on the cutting edge of the industry.
Derek Gallimore: I completely agree. I think there’s a bit of a hangover from 20 years ago, you know, and you still get people if you say to people, why not try out? Um, and, and very commonly they can say they’re going to say, you know, phone my bank. Um, and there was a, someone from the Philippines or India and I had a really bad experience. I couldn’t do that. And I think that this is this hangover from 20 years ago when the whole industry was really just getting started. There was low sort of cultural alignment, there was low levels of training and really everyone in the industry was still trying to figure this out because it was still so young. Whereas now, um, it’s come so far, you know, and there’s kind of 25 years of extra experience under everyone’s belt. And of course, as you say, it’s no longer just call centers. It’s white collar work, it’s professional services, there’s legal outsourcing, there’s a healthcare outsourcing. So, you know, a huge, huge opportunities. Uh, have we still? Got You. Cool. And so let’s introduce yourself. You are a of C9 digital, um, which is, uh, an outsourcing supplier here in Metro Manila. Do you want to just give the listeners who haven’t listened to the previous episode we had with you? A brief introduction to yourself.
Philip Lew: Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Philip blue and I’m one of the cofounders here at C9 digital. And we’re a team of international experts from the United States and from Asia that really specialize in helping clients outsource. Our core focus is actually digital marketing outsourcing. So everything from, um, social media advertising to digital advertising to web development and software programming. So technology outsourcing is our area of focus as well as, um, traditional customer service Al sorting and, um, back office and, and BPO type work. So, um, you know, I had got my start in the call center call center industry about four years ago in Costa Rica. One of my friends actually, um, was a very successful entrepreneur who owned a call center and I came to the and fell in love with the country, fell in love with the industry and never looked back since.
Derek Gallimore: Yah, it’s uh, you know, and this is why I like to have people like you on the podcast because it really gives people an insight into, uh, the, the services available here. But, but also the people and the kind of the skills and the skill sets managing these places. Um, I think people have a very kind of one dimensional view, um, of outsourcing and maybe don’t even have that much awareness of outsourcing. The best thing is to get people over here, which is obviously a really big ass. So the next best thing I think is to have conversations with people like you and for people, potential clients to also just pick up the phone. Now this isn’t an infomercial where, you know, I’m not pushing anything onto the clients, but I really find a lot of value in, uh, in this podcast where we explore the services you provide, where we explore the, the value proposition that you have for potential clients, and then hopefully people can take that on board and really add the rocket fuel to their businesses without sourcing that. That’s my hope for this whole thing. Um, but Philip, uh, do, do we still have you? Okay, so give us an outline of a C9 digital then Philip, and you know, where you fit in the market.
Philip Lew: Yeah. So I think for us C9, we look at ourselves as a boutique creative digital marketing, digital marketing and call center agency. So what that really means is we are really passionate about working with clients who are looking to outsource digital marketing services. So that can be everything from web development, web design. We do a lot of creative work for clients on developing their advertising and their marketing materials, for very large global advertising initiatives. Um, we also do a lot of work managing paid advertising campaigns interesting enough, um, you know, not only our clients, actual businesses and organizations that, that are doing digital marketing, but we also get a lot of work from digital marketing agencies that I’m actually outsourced through us. So these are individuals who basically have been hired by clients to do digital marketing and parts of their processes, um, that they want to outsource.
Philip Lew: They select us to do it. So we do a lot of digital marketing work. Um, and the second thing that we do is a lot of general customer service, inbound support work. So that’s live chat, um, instant messenger support, phone support, it support, um, that kind of work. And the last thing that we do actually, and that we’re really passionate about is Chatbot development services and creating virtual tools and virtual agents and the reason why we do this is because we believe very strongly at C9, that artificial intelligence and chatbots, um, I think, um, that that technology, um, can help augment a customer services organization in order to give them very unique competitive advantages. Um, and to do it with the cost structure that’s going to be affordable for a lot of businesses. So, um, yeah, those are the things that we like to do.
Derek Gallimore: If someone comes to you with with an operation to execute with a business problem, how, where is the gray area in terms of you providing staffing, like bums on seats, people to get the work done? This is you diving into their actual operations, their business requirements, and kind of figuring out the processes for them. Um, how do you, how do you manage that kind of marriage of, of interests?
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Philip Lew: Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s very interesting. You had mentioned earlier about kind of management consulting. We actually look at ourselves as management consultants because it’s w what’s fascinating is, you know, a lot of companies will call, will contact us and they’ll, and they’ll say, hey, you know, we need, um, 10, 10 guys to do x, y, z and upon further investigation and inquiry into their businesses, it turns out there’s actually a lot of additional things or additional steps that need to take place before they’re even ready to outsource, before they even ready to, to actually build that team. And so it’s really important for us to get good results for clients. And so sometimes that requires us to take two steps back in order to take two, three steps forward. So, um, very often, um, you know, we have, we’ve had to spend a lot of time developing our strategy, looking at their processes, really bullying them down, you know.
Philip Lew: Okay. What are the five main things that, that in this particular part of your business needs to take place in order to achieve a high customer service satisfaction score? Okay. Based on those five things, you know, what is the right workflow? What is the right software? What are the right scripts in order to accomplish that? What are the right, what are the right kinds of agents that you need in order to accomplish, um, these results for your company? It then based on that, um, you know, who are the kinds of individuals that we should be tapping and recruiting and head hunting. So, um, you know, that process does take a little bit of time, but I, but, but I think it’s super important to first start on the high level strategy side and then from there, um, you can be sure that the way you’re executing is going to be effective because the execution has that level of foresight.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. And that’s, that’s an incredible illustration I think of where there’s immense, then you’d be owned the actual hourly rate that people are paying. Now people are already getting an incredible deal with the hourly rate because it, you know, you may be saving 60, 70% on, on US salary. Um, but equally people don’t realize, I think the, the, um, incredible value on top of that person that comes from the oversight of you have the experience management teams. And what I say to people is if you come and outsource in the Philippines, you’re getting, you know, someone with two to five years experience but really there’s 25 years of executive experience in outsourcing in the Philippines and you’re really, uh, you know, standing on the shoulders of the entire outsourcing industry and the, the, the process outsourcing, which just knows how to build processes and make them as efficient and optimized as possible. So it’s a fantastic illustration. How, how, how does pricing work with, with you guys and again, you know, when there is that aspect of management consultancy thrown in with kind of a full time salary thrown in with, um, obviously the BPO facilities and things like that. How do you structure pricing?
Philip Lew: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a great question and actually, um, um, something else I think is really important, you know, when you’re looking at BPO centers and we talked earlier about the history of BPO and how we saw certain trends in terms of offshoring and how offshoring is taking place, um, over the last hundred years. I’m one of the other interesting trend and is that a lot of call center work, a lot of BPO work is actually concentrated into the hands of, of a very few, um, amount of companies. And there’s very big, a multi billion dollar call centers here in the Philippines that actually statistically speaking control disproportionately client business, particularly from the fortune 500 fortune 1000 companies. And one of the reasons why that’s the case is because of what you said is because of industry expertise. In how important that management consulting piece is because again, if you’re outsourcing, uh, you know, whether it’s the Philippines or India or somewhere in these emerging markets if your primary focus is the, is the labor arbitrage opportunity, um, and you’re just hiring lower cost labor, then yeah, you’ll get the lower cost labor. But if that particular company or those agents, and this is one of the other challenges with upwork that I’ve experienced well, is, you know, you can hire someone who’s $5 an hour, but does that person have experience, working in a large fortune 1000 company and what’s important to your strategy? Did he understand what matters to your customers? Um, do they have that, that breath (inaudibale) of contacts to make the kinds of decisions that are going to be absolutely for your brand and for your reputation in your industry. And that is the differentiator and why you see a concentrated amount of business being given to very large companies that have, you know, that combined hundred, 200, uh, um, uh, teams of managers who, who come from that background, who come from Corporate America and who can share those insights with team leaders and in the different agents that are on the actual, um, workstations who are actually doing the work. Now, with that being said, um, you know, C9 one of the things that differentiates us from the competition is that we’re, we’re, we’re not the billion dollar company. We’re actually, I’m a mid level, BPO center and we like that. And one of the unique,
Philip Lew: just a working with a company like C9 is that because we’re not company were able to really give a lot of attention to our clients. And that’s one of the challenges with the big, the big centers is they may have, (inaudible) expertise, they may not have the, uh, incentive or the motivation to treat your campaign with that same level and attention to detail as a smaller or midsize agency. And that’s where a lot of clients come to us. They’ll call us and they’ll say, look, you know, we’ve worked with the big guys. We’re looking for a different kind of experience. Um, and, and with our pricing, you know, a lot of it depends on what our clients are looking for. If our clients are looking for traditional digital marketing services like inbound marketing or digital advertising or PPC or web development, um, we have fixed fees and monthly fees for those kinds of services. Um, and if clients are looking for customer service reps, we have hourly rates that are, that are, that are generally speaking pretty standard and we offer those to our clients as well. But again, the actual fees, it comes down to what a client’s actually looking for, what the experience level of their agents need to be and what kinds of tasks those individuals are going to be focused on.
Derek Gallimore: It’s, um, and I think people, they kind of, uh, um, they, they kind of get bitten by the outsourcing bug and they realize that there’s, there’s potential to hire people for, you know, three bucks an hour, um, and they really lose the, the woods for the trees. Um, in that you can potentially get someone to sit on a seat for a dollar a day, but it, but it’s not actually just about getting a bum on a seat. It’s about, you know, having high quality production and output. Whatever that goal is. And, um, yeah, I, I certainly encourage people to not necessarily save every penny, but to go for a great price, of course, because you know if you’re not saving money, of course the, the ideal would be to get someone in your home town sitting next to you in your office but you know, we’re, so we’re all here at food for good pricing, but it’s actually about, you know, executing at a, at a really high level, and getting equally great value for money.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah. And you know, I think this is an example of, of just finding that sweet spot, um, but not pushing too hard to, to really save every penny you can.
Philip Lew: Absolutely.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. So if people want to know more, and if, if people engage with you, what is a, what does the typical conversation, if there’s people kind of exploring outsourcing, they’re a little bit timid, they want to dip their toe in. Um, how do you typically counsel people to, to, to kind of say, give it a go and, and get them a quick win so that they, they feel confident with the process?
Philip Lew: Yeah well when, with our services, um, generally speaking, when our, our clients contact contact us, the first step of what we like to do is to have an introductory call so we can, um, get really clear on what they’re trying to accomplish and what’s important to their business. We do have a minimum expectation of at least five staff members for our BPO and call center services side of our business. Um, and for digital marketing, again, it comes down to, to to what they need. Um, if it’s just like for web development, we have, we have flat fees for those services. And then we also have of course, ongoing rates for digital marketing services that require a longer commitment period in order to, uh, get them the results they’re looking for.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. Thank you so much. And of course, if anyone wants to learn more or reach out to you, how can they do that?
Philip Lew: Yeah. Uh, you can reach out to us on our website at www.c9digital.com.
Derek Gallimore: Okay. That was the loo of C9 digital. If you want to get in touch with Philip, or anymore about anything we mentioned in the podcast. Go to our show notes, which is an outsourceaccelerator.com/234. And as always, if you want to, uh, get in touch with this, drop some email to [email protected]