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Stellar Global Solutions Philippines, Inc.

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Stellar Global Solutions Philippines, Inc.
Gaining Ground

Paxys, Inc. ("Paxys") eager to diversify its partners in the Asia Pacific region, set its sights on breaking into the Australian outsourcing market. In October 2006, Stellar Holdings, Inc. executed a Joint Venture Agreement with Paxys, establishing a cost-effective offshore JV to service the Stellar Group of Companies (the "Stellar Group"). In 2007, this has come to fruition, as embodied by Stellar Global Solutions Philippines, Inc. ("SGSP").

Already an established global call center and business process outsourcing provider, the Stellar Group has over 6,000 employees across 18 outsourcing centers in Australia, UK, USA and Canada. Its consistent service quality across various communication channels helps clients reduce operating costs, improve quality levels and increase revenue and profitability. The company serves a wide range of clients in telecommunications, utilities, transport, finance, government, and manufacturing industries. In addition to call center outsourcing, Stellar specializes in document management, workflow automation technology and process outsourcing solutions.

With this background in excellence, SGSP has already had a headstart in the call center industry in our country. SGSP is the main outsourcing facility for offshore services provided by Stellar Asia Pacific (Australia), Stellar Nordia (Canada) and Stellar UK (Scotland). Already experiencing rapid growth in terms of employees and client¸le, it is, as its Chief Executive Officer Arthur Harrow II says, "quickly establishing a reputation as an employer of choice." Known to his colleagues as Art, and already experienced and seasoned in the Philippine call center industry, he leads SGSP into becoming a call center with world-class facilities and employment conditions.

Nestled in the heart of the Araneta Center, the top commercial district in Quezon City, SGSP's center is fully equipped with the latest call center technology. It has an impressive array of staff amenities, including a dedicated recruitment and training center, kitchen, dining and recreation rooms, Internet café and sleeping quarters. In addition to this, Stellar staff enjoy the convenience of working in a location serviced by both the LRT and MRT train systems, as well as being surrounded by a number of large commercial malls for shopping and eating out.

Like all companies that start out, the initial successes are always coupled with challenges, foremost of which are the differences between Australian and Philippine call center industries. Perhaps one of the first things that may come to mind is the challenge with the Australian accent and colloquialisms. Having been a colony of the United States, our English is more akin to American English-this is why the Philippines has become a premier destination for business process outsourcing of American companies. But the difficulty is only superficial, as Art states, "There has been some initial challenges in understanding the Australian accent, but with enough training and hands-on experience, Filipinos will eventually find it easy. As for Australians understanding Filipinos, as long as we speak with a neutral accent, just as what is being taught for US accounts, there wouldn't be any issues."

Other differences pose more challenges. One of the main differences is in terms of magnitude-the Australian call center industry is not anywhere near the volume of clients or jobs and employee headcount that the Philippine call center industry has. Another difference is the prestige attached by most job seekers to being in the call center industry-it is not the preferred industry by job seekers in Australia, unlike their Filipino counterparts who see working in the call center industry as respectable, stable, viable, and of course, high-paying.

In addition to this, as clients, Australian companies are very cautious-sometimes even to the point of skepticism-when outsourcing their businesses processes or parts of their business processes offshore, unlike American companies (the most common clients of call centers and BPO centers in the Philippines) who have taken the offshore outsourcing plunge in the past few years. Although there is a lot of awareness of Philippine call centers among Australian businesses because of the significant number of Filipino migrants in Australia, most Australian clients have only a few programs currently offshored to other countries, and most of them do not meet or fully satisfy their very high expectations in terms of delivering service levels and customer satisfaction.

This is where the relationship with Paxys has benefited the Stellar Group. With Paxys' experience and expertise in the call center industry in the Philippines, the skepticism of Australian companies seeking to outsource their business processes offshore are alleviated. Their high expectations are met with the highly qualified and trainable applicants from the Filipino workforce, technologically advanced processes, cost-effective measures, and strategic locations.

One example of this is how well SGSP has come up with ways to meet the almost perpetual challenge of recruitment in Philippine call center industry, and in the call center industry in general Š ways that have been tried and tested by other Paxys companies. One of the newest clients of SGSP is an IP relay service for a US telecommunications company, which requires inbound customer service representatives that have excellent English communication skills, on top of typing 60 words per minute, right off the bat. This special requirement is not always met by most applicants. One creative solution, according to Art, was to initiate a Near Hire program where they train "nearly hired" applicants (applicants who were not hired because of a minor shortfall) using a typing software that improves their typing speed, so that they turn into "newly hired" employees.

Another way that SGSP has improved their competitiveness, especially in training, is to hire communications consultants who train SGSP trainers who in turn will eventually be able to train future agents. One communications consultant is retained to certify new trainers, and to check and update the training being done. This continuing drive to improve assures clients-from Australia as well as from other countries-of reduced costs, improved quality and efficiency, increased revenue and profitability, and enhanced competitive advantage.

What makes SGSP doubly unique is the corporate culture of the Stellar Group, hinged on their internationally recognized Open Book Management. "Because of OBM, Stellar's corporate culture is a very open one," Art relates. "They share financial results with the employee population. In every center they post their financial reports daily, so that even on the agent level they know what their contribution is. Their bonus structure is also based on how well their individual center does. So the employees know, for example if their absenteeism is high, the direct effect of that-lost revenues. In short, they know how every move that they make affects the company's and their individual finances."

This corporate culture is slowly being migrated to SGSP-indeed, Art stresses that there is a need to adapt it to the Filipino work force's attitude and temperament. This, along with other initiatives, is to be incorporated in the near future.

The strength of SGSP is this combination of Paxys' expertise and experience, and the Stellar Group's bold management strategies. The result is that Australia is slowly but surely opening up as an emergent offshore outsourcing market. And SGSP is just as surely gaining ground as a destination for these outsourced projects.



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