Sunday, May 24, 2015

Call centers located in Colombia, Mexico, and Philippines are on AT&T’s watch list due to data breach affecting almost 280,000 US customers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has entered a $25 million settlement with AT&T Services, Inc. to resolve an investigation into consumer privacy violations at AT&T’s call centers located in the said countries. The fine  is FCC’s largest privacy and data security enforcement action to date.

The outcome of the said fine has started to take effect in call center companies. In Mexico, the incident has been investigated by the local authorities’ trough The Federal Institute for Information Access and Data Protection, or IFAI.

AT&T Stress Foam
source:  Title="you're a star! by Katy Warner, on Flickr

According to reports, a Mexican media said the theft in Mexico was carried out by three employees of Teleperformance, a provider of call center services to AT&T, IFAI said in a statement.
The Mexico City-based IFAI said it decided to launch a preliminary investigation due to potential non-compliance with Mexico's Federal Law on Protection of Personal Data.

The Philippine local authorities have not started any formal investigation of the issue. The country has enacted The Data Privacy Act or Republic Act 10173 last 2012 but the president has yet to make a National Privacy Commission that would regulate the data privacy policies under the law.

As a result of the fine we have heard reports that some AT&T accounts have been pulled out from different call center companies leaving hundreds of agents in floating status.  Some call center employees also stated they still have AT&T account with their company however they are also concerned of losing a job once AT&T’s contract has ended with their respective center.

Colombia may have the same fate of losing AT&T account because an AT&T spokesperson has wrote to Ars Technica with the following message “Protecting customer privacy is critical to us. We hold ourselves and our vendors to a high standard. Unfortunately, a few of our vendors did not meet that standard and we are terminating vendor sites as appropriate. We've changed our policies and strengthened our operations. And we have, or are, reaching out to affected customers to provide additional information.”

So the next time someone approached you if you are working for an AT&T account and being offered to look for customer information for a small fee; please think of honest call center employees who’s working real hard just to make ends meet.  Also, your company might follow the strict rule of implementing the "no cellphone rule on the floor policy" and monitoring your computer activities because of this incident.

To protect the call center industry the Philippine government should start implementing the National Privacy Commission, I think BPAP should also start implementing rules and guidelines as well if they don't have anything in place.

Has AT&T account been pulled in your center? Let us discuss via the comments section below.

Disclaimer: The articles or comments of any one on this site does not mean to represent the views or beliefs of the others – each opinion is unique and represents the opinion of the author and the readers. An opinion expressed by any contributor does not reflect the views of any organization, employer, or religious congregation that contributor may be associated with unless expressly stated.

Sources : Laprensasa and Ars Technica

Saturday, May 23, 2015

April is the tax month so we decided to check the latest news from BIR, what we found out is that the Bureau has released the list of “TOP 500 NON-INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS” which is updated as of March 6, 2015.

Based on BIR’s list Citibank NA emerged as the Top Taxpayer for companies with BPO services in the Philippines. Citibank NA placed 43rd on the list paying more than 839 million pesos. Citibank is followed by Accenture which placed 114; the company paid more than 309 million pesos.

Check out the list below;

RANKTINCompany NameIncome Tax Due Php
43000444734-000CITIBANK NA839,428,977.00
114000845543-000ACCENTURE, INC.309,489,217.64
177000594807-000DEUTSCHE REGIS PARTNERS, INC.195,427,301.00
256239952660-000JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.-PHIL GLOBAL SERVICE CTR128,268,271.00
311005035491-000HSBC SAVINGS BANK (PHILIPPINES) INC102,370,743.00
364226444142-000HEWLETT-PACKARD AP (HONGKONG) LTD-PHIL ROHQ,8585,093,272.00
366000161142-000IBM PHILIPPINES INC84,759.647.00
498402051129-000TELETECH OFFSHORE INVESTMENTS B.V62,304,576.00

Based on the Citibank’s website the Philippine serves as a regional hub offering different types of services through;

• Citigroup Business Process Solutions, which provides Business Process Outsourcing, Customer Sales and Service, and other remote services to various Citi operations in the region and in North America;
• Citibank Regional Operating Headquarters, under which the following units operate: Citi Shared Services Asia, a global financial and management reporting center and global payment and employee services center supporting over 60 countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa; Citi Technology Infrastructure; Citi Learning; Asia Pacific Analytics Center, Asia Pacific Credit Risk Management Services, and Centers of Excellence including compliance, expense management, transactional procurement, and events administration.

Two years ago Deutsche Knowledge Services Pte. Ltd rank first with P116.88 million in income tax paid followed by Accenture with P75.25 million in income tax paid. The other BPO firms and back offices in the country’s top 500 corporate taxpayers based on their 2011 revenues were: Sykes Asia Inc. (No. 343, tax paid at P61.91 million); Hewlett-Packard Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong) Ltd.-Regional Operating Headquarters (No. 354, P60.53 million); Citibank N.A.-Regional Operating Headquarters (No. 408, P49.37 million); and NCR Cebu Development Center Inc. (No. 465, P42.96 million).

Reviewing the list made me wonder why some of the Top BPO Companies were not included in the list however, this just confirms that the BPO Industry is one of the driving factors of the Philippine economy with a goal of 1.3 million jobs and $25 billion in revenues or 8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by next year.

The Top 10 Philippine Company Tax Payers are:

 3  SAN MIGUEL BREWERY INC. 4,879,126,836.00
 4  NESTLE PHILIPPINES INC 4,810,786,896.00
 5  CHEVRON MALAMPAYA LLC 4,516,541,678.00
 7  GLOBE TELECOM, INC. 4,002,879,260.00
 8  PMFTC INC 3,422,148,766.00
 9  CHEMWEALTH INC 2,908,993,296.00
10 SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC. 2,777,117,395.00

In case you are also interested to see the top Individual Tax Payers check out the list below;

RankNameTax Due
1Pacquiao, Emmanuel Dapidran163,841,863.00
2Alcantara, Juanito Pornuevo99,612,000.00
3Mendoza, Estelito P73,185,375.00
4Chico, Reynaldo Jr Benoza67,340,888.00
5Tan, Andrew Lim67,184,002.00
6Tan, Lorenzo Villanueva60,894,276.00
7Alvarez, Jose Chavez55,627,417.00
8Azcona, Vivian Que51,617,174.69
9Reyes, Oscar Sison51,440,314.00
10Ayllon, Vicente Rafael Munoz50,088,841.00
11Soliman, Ronaldo Romero46,636,876.00
12Ang, Ramon See46,471,324.00
13Baja Jr., Lauro Liboon45,194,110.60
14Pascual, Piolo Jose Nonato42,533,158.00
15Cruz, John Lloyd Espidol41,976,592.00
16Aquino, Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco40,481,146.00
17Lopez, Federico Rufino39,899,018.00
18Angeles, Victor Manguera39,762,021.00
19Pangilinan, Sharon Cuneta39,049,235.00
20Revillame, Wilfredo Buendia38,305,824.00

source :

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Iphone has Siri and for Windows Phone users they have Cortana, both applications can work as our personal assistant.  Aside from assisting us in setting our alarm, sending an sms, or reminding us of the next important occasion; Siri and Cortana can also search the internet to provide valuable information for us like finding a restaurant or pulling up the stats of our favorite basketball player.

Now here’s another girl who's capabilities are way beyond than Siri and Cortana, meet Amelia a smart blonde girl, who works like a virtual employee she can reply to e-mail, answer phone calls, and she’s also intelligent enough to act like a human.  The question is can she replace call center employees? To answer that let’s take a closer look at Amelia’s feature and how she resolves a problem.

A brief description of Amelia based on IPSoft’s website says that “Amelia is the first artificially intelligent machine to understand, learn and empathize like a human. She speaks and reads 20 languages. She works day and night. And she is about to revolutionize both businesses and lives across the world.”

So How Does Amelia Work?

Based on the info graphic above she works like a typical call center employee since she listens, understand and clarifies then executes a process to solve the issue just like following a decision tree or knowledge base article.

If you’re a Tier II employee or an employee that resolves escalated issues, you may also hear from her because if she can’t resolve an issue she will escalate it to you. Now here’s the catch once she learns everything from you, your current position might not be safe as well so you are good to go.

Would She Find Her Way in the BPO Industry?

According to Accenture’s News Release the company is undertaking pilot projects for two clients to implement Amelia in operations.

 “The first pilot is with Baker Hughes, an oil field services company, while the other is Shell, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies. In both use cases, a cognitive agent will help support service delivery by learning through natural language interactions and documentation, as well as observing other agents’ live interactions in order to constantly improve on its abilities.”
I think once Amelia has been fully implemented in the BPO Industry some call center employees can now focus on handling more complex accounts because, we can say goodbye to accounts with repetitive tasks wherein the number of calls could go as high as 60 or more per day (don’t know the exact figure however there are accounts where an AHT could be 5 minutes or less?). Aside from that, we won’t be a labeled as people who read scripts since we would be tasked to do more complex jobs. Some of us are accountants, payroll experts, tax and legal analyst which could mean higher pay.

With the recent fraud issues involving call center employees from different parts of the world we might be giving Amelia a chance to take our jobs. She doesn't even complain if it’s queuing or not, she would happily work even if it’s raining cats and dogs outside, she won’t be affected by natural disaster as long as she’s up she would be willing to answer calls and emails. 

So what do you think about Amelia’s future would she fly on her own and start taking our jobs as soon as she learns from us or would she have the same fate like Amelia Earhart the female aviator who suddenly disappeared in the thin air? 

Check out the Video Below on What Amelia Can do:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Facebook page named Wag Ganyan PH voiced out its concerns against call center employees who were caught smoking beside a No Smoking sign. The photos were taken in front of SM Megamall where one of the largest BPO company is located; the photos reveal a lot of cigarette butts and used cups that was allegedly thrown by call center employees of Convergys.
Photo Screengrab from Wag Ganyan PH FBpage

Netizens have mixed reactions about the scenario;

Last December the attention of call center employees  has been called out by a netizen due to lack of discipline in terms of proper waste disposal.

To be fair, the behavior is not limited to call center employees, check out the photo below during the earth day run where plastic cups were thrown everywhere.

Let this be a reminder to us because according to the Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9211, Otherwise Known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 there are sanctions for violating the No Smoking policy.

How much is the penalty for violating the No Smoking Policy?
Penal Provision (Violations of Section 5 and 6 (Smoking Ban, Smoking, Non-Smoking Areas):
1st offense: Php 500 - Php 1,000; or 8-hour community service
2nd offense: Php 1,000 - Php 5,000; or 16-hour community service
3rd offense: Php 5,000 - Php 10,000 and cancellation/revocation of franchise or business permit.

Kudos the the company because based on one of the comments Convergys have provided designated smoking areas for its employees.

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