some companies have brought contact centre work back onshore, the growth rate
of one offshore location for UK companies stands out: South Africa. Here’s why.
1) The accent works
Everyone in South Africa either
has English as a native language or is taught English at school from an early
age, producing a large English-speaking population of roughly 5 million. The
accent is neutral and easily understood by the British, leading to fewer
complaints and ‘lost in translation’ moments than alternative offshore
2) Agents ‘get’ UK customers
The culture in South Africa is
more closely aligned to the UK than in many other offshore destinations and the
legal and fiscal structure is also comparable. What’s more, the consumer
experience is similar, so agents are able to easily empathise with UK
3) It’s easy to access
The time difference between
South Africa and the UK is just one or two hours (depending on the time of
year). It’s also super easy to get to, with at least two non-stop flights per
day to Cape Town or Johannesburg from Heathrow - and ticket prices as low as
4) There’s a robust infrastructure
Thanks to a thriving tourism
market, quality roads, business premises and retail outlets already exist in
South Africa. Telecommunications is now extremely reliable thanks to investment
in undersea cables. As for broadband connectivity, the government has pledged
to have 80% penetration at 100Mbps by 2030. Data laws are similar to those in
the UK, as are certifications and product guarantees. Plus, there is a large
BPO industry in South Africa already serving the domestic market and overseas
clients, so buyers of contact centre services are spoilt for vendor choice.
5) The cost savings are impressive
Improved infrastructure has
also reduced telecoms costs by some 90% since 2003 and wages are less than half
what they cost in the UK. This, combined with a weak Rand, results in 40-50% savings
on operating costs in the UK or Northern Ireland, and 20%+ savings compared to
locations in eastern Europe (e.g. Poland).
6) The government is there to help
Critical to the success of any
country’s BPO industry is government support. The South African government is
an active promoter of BPO as a significant contributor to employment in the
burgeoning services economy. The
Government has particularly aligned with the UK because of the cultural
similarities and almost identical time zone - indeed, the UK accounts for 75%
of the SA offshore market.
7) Improving quality and driving revenues is just as
important as saving money
South African BPO vendors
understand that it is not enough simply to be cheaper than a domestic contact
centre, so there is a strong emphasis on value creation, and quality of service
provision. Industry associations provide quality assurance through a focus on
up-skilling and career development and, as a result, companies are reporting
high levels of customer satisfaction, sales conversion and NPS scores. In
addition to reduced costs, providers in South Africa are promising increased
customer retention, improved up-sell rates and process efficiency, and a better
customer experience than other offshore destinations. The city of Durban in
particular has established itself as a centre of excellence for customer
acquisition and telesales activity.
8) It’s an attractive destination for UK managers
Quality of life in South
Africa is high - great weather, great food, and many tourist attractions make
for an easy sell to managers or trainers who need to relocate to South Africa
for extended periods. The weak Rand stretches salaries - Johannesburg and Cape Town are
ranked 154th and 179th respectively on the Worldwide Cost of Living Index (so
it costs less to live there than in Cairo or New Delhi).
last 5 years, South Africa has been named Offshoring Destination of the Year by
the Global Sourcing Association (UK) and by the European Outsourcing Association.
9) Follow the leaders
Many of the UK and Europe’s
biggest brands outsource customer contact to South Africa – such as Talk Talk,
British Gas and Lufthansa.
get more information about leading contact centre outsourcers in South Africa,
contact us or enter your request to gather vendor information.
Multilingual, multi-channel hubs and the brave new world of customer service