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South Africa as an Outsourcing Destination for UK Contact Centres

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 quality.


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 partners.

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 artificial intelligence.

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).

Cultural fit

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.

Government support

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.

Further information 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


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