Since 2014, South Africa has experienced average annual growth rates of
over 20% in the contact centre BPO sector.
Whilst India and the Philippines
have dominated the global market for outsourced contact centre services, South
Africa has established itself as a reputable, world-renowned BPO destination, serving all sizes of client from small businesses to those with thousands of
seats. In fact, 78% of South African BPO work is for UK companies.
ContactBabel will be launching a new report in their webinar on May 22, 2019, “UK, US & South African Contact Centre Outsourcing: A Comparison”,
which compares these three countries’ outsourcing sectors directly. One of the
key findings is that South African BPOs are very technologically capable, and in
some cases are ahead of their US and UK counterparts in terms of channels supported
and technologies being used.
South Africa’s value for outsourcing has recently been recognized, having
been voted GSA Global Destination of the Year in 2018.
While offshoring to
South Africa is seen as a cost-effective option, there are cheaper destinations
such as Nigeria and Egypt. South Africa no longer competes
only on price, but also on quality and value-add.
Large pool of talent
Over 400,000 English
speakers join South Africa’s labour force each year. A significant proportion
South Africans are multilingual, with particular excellence in Dutch, German, French
and Italian often found in Cape Town. This native or near-native language
ability assist greatly with mutual understanding and cultural fit, supporting
very high levels of NPS.
Over 2 million South
Africans hold a university degree or diploma, and married to significant levels
of unemployment, this means that the labour pool is both deep and of a high
For many years, South
Africa has been close to the top of the World Economic Forum’s list of countries that provide the highest
level of Auditing and Reporting Standards.
As the European Union
is such a close business partner of many South African companies, the data
regulations are closely aligned with GDPR, and there is a widespread
acknowledgement in the government and business community that any data
protection regulations will have to closely reflect those of their trading
South Africa is also
particularly strong in the medical industries, with more than quarter of a million
medical professionals in the country, and for those businesses looking to
outsource complex banking or insurance work, there is a surprisingly high
number of qualified financial professionals.
Value and innovation
South African BPO’s
have more to offer than just voice services, providing high levels of digital
support across the web chat, email and social channels as well. Many have
invested heavily in cutting-edge technology such as analytics, RPA and
Some BPOs show real innovation with pricing models and service
offerings. For example, one vendor provides a packaged digital marketing and contact
centre service, generating leads online and closing the sales through their
contact centre - the vendor takes all or part of the risk depending on the client’s
preference, and is rewarded on a performance basis of per lead or per sale. (For
more information, please email).
South Africa has a
global outlook, with many of its citizens having studied or worked abroad,
especially within the UK, and share many cultural references. The South African
accent is familiar to UK ears, and considerably more neutral than many other overseas
accents, and is easily understood and accepted by customers in the UK. Request a South African sample call.
South Africa has
invested heavily in its infrastructure, from healthcare and education to its
roads and power, and of course data and telephony connections. There are many
direct international flights from the UK to South Africa.
The cost of living in
the country’s main cities – including Johannesburg and Cape Town – is considerably
less than other key BPO locations such as New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur.
Additionally, the country’s longitude means that it is either 1 or 2 hours
ahead of UK time.
The South African BPO
sector has long been acknowledged by the South African government to be a major
provider of service exports and creator of high quality, long-term jobs, and is
very well supported. Significant incentives are provided to encourage the
creation of BPO-related employment, and there are hosted opportunities offered
to interested parties to come to South Africa and experience the contact centre
sector at first hand.
The BPO sector is widely
spread across South Africa, with significant operations in Cape Town, Pretoria,
Johannesburg, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, which reduces the chance
of overheating or excessive attrition in contact centre hotspots.
The cost element
Of course, cost always
plays a significant part in the decision to outsource, and based on surveys of
South African and UK contact centres, 2018 agent starting salaries in South Africa
were around 30% that of the UK. The average starting salary in a South African
outsourcer serving international clients was less than £4,000, compared to over
£16,000 for a UK outsourced agent, although an additional 25% to cover bonuses
and benefits should be taken into account.
about head-to-head comparisons between the UK, US and South African outsourced
contact centre industries can be received by registering for the webinar “What To Expect When Outsourcing To South Africa: Direct
Line share their experience”.
Additional management and
businesses overheads should also be considered, meaning this differential diminishes
somewhat but it still makes a powerful argument, particular when considering additional
financial incentives offered by the DTI for creating jobs.
Yet South Africa is
not just about cost, rather value for money and value-add. Many operations
achieve levels of Net Promoter Score (NPS) and sales conversion rates at least
as good as their UK counterparts elsewhere within equivalent UK businesses.
Keynote from Direct Line Group / Deputy Mayor of Cape Town explains set-up
incentives / ContactBabel present findings from their new outsourcing report - May 22nd 2019 - replays available