Manila agents complain of NZ backlash

Philippine agents outsourcing for New Zealand Telecom’s directory assistance line have complained of a negative response to their accents by NZ callers, according to local media.

In an internal Telecom question-and-answer document, revealed by The Dominion Post, staff members reportedly pitched questions to management about the contact centre trial in Manila in the Philippines. The document had a question from a staff member who said customers were being aggressive towards them because they had an accent. “I even had one tell me off for taking a New Zealander’s job,” the employee said.

“I am concerned that it could get worse can you give me any ideas on how to handle these conversations please.” Telecom reportedly responded: “Explain that you are based in New Zealand and that just like our nation, our contact centres have many diverse cultures and nationalities in them.” Another employee asked about sensitivity of the Maori pronunciation of place names and people’s names, as “this is often a problem when dealing with a foreign call centre”. Telecom said all Manila staff completed two weeks of accent and conversational English training, which covered pronunciation of names and familiarisation of New Zealand culture. Telecom employs about 1000 call centre staff in New Zealand and 450 in Manila.

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