When you’re selecting a location for voice-based services, you need to understand that not all English language is equal. That’s according to Altaf Khan, a long-time observer of business and IT matters, who happens to be located in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, typically, only college-educated people speak reasonable English, but almost everyone understands Urdu. There is no such indigenous Indian language — English is the only common language that is understood in most Indian cities. Therefore, even those without college degrees need to pick it up to survive in everyday life.
This popularity of English in India has created its own problem for offshore BPO service providers — there is this Indian dialect of English now that is somewhat different from what is spoken in the US or UK. Plus, with time, they have also developed an interesting accent that takes some getting used to for non-Indians — accent neutralization is more of a problem there as compared with Pakistan.
In the Philippines, people with even lower levels of education can communicate well in English. Plus, they understand the American culture better. Therefore, I believe that among the three countries, Philippines is the best place for setting up voice-based services for the US market.
If the service requires the understanding of the written word, Pakistan has plenty of qualified and eager workers. For things like insurance claims processing, which requires the comprehension of what is written on claim forms, followed by some decision-making, Pakistan is a great place for setting up an offshore outsourcing operation.
Mr. Khan will have more to share on voice-based services next week in his first article for Sourcingmag.com.