The Philippines is known to have a respectable command of the English language. In addition to that, literacy rate of 92.6%. Call Center services in the Philippines, I believe, have already outdone India, if not equaled. Having been with two of the top BPO companies, India is admittedly better when it comes to technical support but definitely not in the league with Filipinos when it comes to accent.
A good example is the last company I was with that had two offices. The first one was in India and their second BPO in the Philippines. Customer service was focused in the Philippines while the company made the more experienced India outfit as our supervisors we escalate to. When we escalate the calls to them, almost all of the time callers will request to give back the call to us. Why? Callers complain that the supervisor we had escalated them to was hard to understand and could also hardly understand their issue!
Call center services has improved a lot especially with the agents. Almost all have honed their conversation, listening and resolving skills. Tight knit teams have agents helping out each other when it comes to customer issues. Teams that are kept intact for at least 8 months to a year always perform better compared to those that are reshuffled frequently. I should know it because in both companies, I've been with teams at least that long and other teams too with much shorter time than that. It is the bond and camaraderie of a team that is kept intact for longer periods.
As agents get better, call center services to them are on a decline. Benefits and incentives are no longer as good when I started with the first company. Even if an agent could no longer talk and losing his/her voice, the company clinic just let them rest for an hour or two then sent back to take calls! I know because it happened to me! They always suspect that agents are feigning illness always! There was even an incident when an agent died because of failure to be given the proper medical attention! She was a young single mother who was just coming from or had just come out of training. Reports on how it happened are sketchy and we were practically kept in the dark.
The Department of Labor should look into how agents are treated. The Personnel or Human Resources Department (HRD) of the companies can hardly do anything because they have to follow HRD guidelines of their clients. Call center services HRD seem to be just for hiring and firing, and implementing social security and other government required processes.
N.B. This article has no intention belittling the accent of India-based call center agents, as some Filipinos would also have some heavy accents.
Update: The Philippines bests India as BPO - is now No. 1!