Horst von Wendorff founded Virtual Knowledge Workers Inc. in 2009. VKW Inc helps companies outsource scheduling, customer service, telemarketing, social media management and more. We asked Horst about his experiences while operating a BPO in the Philippines.
1. Tell me more about VKWinc.com
VKW was an academic pet project of mine during my MBA studies – more of a learning tool than a company that I actually intended to launch. It was 2010 when I graduated during the financial crisis in the US. I applied for jobs but there were simply none. VKW became Plan B. If nobody gives you a job, you employ yourself. I would hire myself, certainly; and so I did! VKW started signing clients and with that Plan B became Plan A. I became an Entrepreneur more out of necessity than inspired choice. And with that VKW was born.
2. Why did you choose to setup in the Philippines? What are the benefits of the Philippines?
I looked at various countries including India, China, and Eastern Europe. Philippines stood out for the US-Market. With a little training, workers can become accent neutral, in-tune with US culture, and, above all, there’s strong pool of quality talent. It’s an HR dreamland.
3. Who is your target customer?
We’re very friendly to early stage companies. We have client friendly cancellation terms, no minimum headcount, and no setup fee. We are invested in the client as much as the client is invested in us. In fact, many of our clients started with just one agent and now they employ teams of 5 or 10+ just a year or two later. We’re here to earn mutual trust and with that grow with our clients, together.
4. What services do you offer customers?
Our core competencies are customer service, content moderation and sales-support. We have interesting case studies posted on our website. We’re happy to let you look over our shoulders. All our agents are equipped with a webcam. Come talk to us. We’re open.
5. What pitfalls should be avoided when operating in the Philippines?
During my MBA studies, I learned that there’s a disconnect in the BPO market. BPO providers sell on price, but the market is asking for Quality & Trust. The trend in outsourcing is to find reliable quality labor. Buyers of BPO services don’t want to buy employees or time-sheets, they want to buy results and key performance indicators for their business processes. Yet, the BPO market sells on price as if contact center agents are a commodity item. $6/hour, $5/hour, $3/hour. Offering an ever lower price does not breed Quality & Trust.
VKW is not a discount provider nor do we aim to be one. We’re good at attracting and retaining quality workers and make them available to our clients.
6. For other foreigners coming to setup a BPO in the Philippines, what advice would you give them?
While Filipinos have a good understanding of US culture, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a good understanding of Filipino culture.
7. Regarding PayrollHero, why did you choose it for your BPO?
PayrollHero was built by a BPO company to solve their own payroll problem. We simply have the same problem. PayrollHero is a perfect fit for us.
8. What is your favorite feature or benefit of PayrollHero for you?
Great customer service!