Outsourcing in South Africa: A blurred bottom line Outsourcing based on lowest rates

Outsourcing in South Africa: A blurred bottom line Outsourcing based on lowest rates

Alan Graham takes a look at outsourcing in South Africa and describes the benefits the destination can bring to the business.

When outsourcing first became popular, outsourcing was purely a cost saving mechanism. The mobile revolution has created a 21st century customer who demands more. In recent years, companies are thinking about the long term cost of outsourcing.

When you start looking at the long term effect of selecting an outsourcing destination purely on price, the bottom line becomes blurred. Factors such as customer retention, 1st call resolution, customer satisfaction and brand protection give cost savings a new meaning.

South Africa has become a buzz word in the industry, as a high quality offshore solution. It has even been called an equivalent to onshoring.

Some key facts about outsourcing in South Africa
South Africa is a nation of diversity, with 50+-million people, 17.32 million are part of the labour force and 62% of the population is urbanised.

South Africa is among the top 3 Locations that support English language skills at scale, it also has the added advantage to support a broad range of European languages.

South Africans also have a natural cultural affiliation to UK, US, EU, Australia and New Zealand and a neutral accent understood and accepted by all.

South Africa has the 26th largest GDP in the world and a thriving democracy.

With infrastructure to match any first world country and well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy and transport sectors, South Africa is on par with the other leading BPO destinations.

South Africa’s undeniable differentiator
So what’s all the fuss about? Yes, South Africa has the infrastructure, English and European language skills and talent pool to sustain the industry. On the surface, nothing stands out. Take a closer look, and the people element is the resounding differentiator.

South Africa offers a skilled talent pool that achieves excellent results with complex products and interactions. Companies currently outsourcing to South Africa, tend to outsource higher-end services, which they wouldn’t outsource to other locations or prefer to keep in-house.

Why? The claim is South African’s have a natural ability to create rapport, are customer focused, have empathy and the so called ‘Ubuntu’ service culture.

Are these claims valid? Well the results speak for themselves, some companies claim to experience higher 1st call resolution than they have experienced elsewhere. Others say they experience improved quality and the customer service is comparable to none.

There are BPO’s who have been operating in South Africa for the last 14 years. Yet, it was a relative unknown compared to its competitors. South Africa’s recent Global recognition as the Offshoring Destination of the Year in the 2012 NOA and 2013 EOA awards finally put this BPO gem on the map as an offshoring destination of choice. This recognition, together with a worldwide trend to differentiate with customer service and a strong focus on customer retention, has led to global awareness. The world is finally taking notice.

Companies want more! Customers expect more!
Cost is no longer the only deciding factor in the outsourcing space. Companies want more! Customers expect more! The only way for companies to be successful today, is to differentiate themselves with exceptional customer service. Companies, who have previously outsourced to destinations such as India and the Philippines based on cost savings alone, are back shoring. While other companies have realised the potential of quality offshoring destinations such as South Africa, where cost savings can still be achieved and customer retention can be maximised.

I predict South Africa’s popularity will only increase, as more companies become aware of the long term cost savings and associated benefits.

Quality Management

Quality Management

Close to 100 people attended the Community of Experts workshop ‘Creating a QA process that enhances customer experience and drives on-going performance improvement’ by Jackie Naughton.
Jackie is well known in the contact industry. She has been a convening judge for the BPeSA’s industry awards over the last eight years. She gained her an in-depth understanding of the challenges faces by contact centre managers while overseeing more than 4,500 workstations across 13 countries gave. Today she is a world-renowned expert on QA. Her company, BYC, today offers outsourced quality assessments, consulting and training to contact centre operators.


Outsourcing QA to BYC allows customer experience managers to “benefit from cost effective and objective understanding of their overall contact centre operations”.The BYC approach to quality assess is not just focused on results, but strives to provide insight into factors that are likely to prevent or delay the optimization of customer delivery through customer initiatives.
The event was introduced by Jackie with a video regarding branding, which explained that we are exposed to more than 3 500 brand messages per day and live in a brand saturated world. Jackie clarified that, although branding impacts on QA, it is not measured by QA, which is the process of determining whether products/services meet customers’ expectations and focuses on enhancing and improving the process used to create the end result, rather than focusing on the result itself.
With call centre agents engaging in 23 000 customer interactions in a single year, they carry more branding power than anyone else in the company, which makes it essential for agents to be involved in and part of the QA process. Jackie’s presentation made it abundantly clear that QA is the “dipstick of processes in a company”, and when correctly implemented and applied, it results in the sharing of significant statistics and information. Participants were reminded that a company’s brand is owned by its customers and is only as good as the customer says it is.
Total Quality Management, according to Jackie, is akin to continual improvement and should never stand still, leaves no room for grey areas, and she felt that it should perhaps be referred to as Customer Experience management, which “has to live and breathe”, as QA is “the living heartbeat” of any company. It should never be perceived as just a set of reports, and being flexible, QA gives insights that, for instance, allow companies to measure the effects of processes.
The presentation was extensive, eye opening and filled with useful and practical information that participants could use to ensure their company processes, products and services measure up to the highest standards.
It was heartening to see participants actively raising questions after the presentation and Jackie was able to answer a variety of questions, ranging from relationship building to motivating QA on agent level, as well as how to convince management QA was not just needed but a necessary tool to assist in optimising effective operations.
iFundi’s Community of Experts Series has been welcomed by the public as an innovative tool for both educating and networking, while addressing topics of common interests to the practitioners of various professional communities. These events expose the participants to new ideas as presented by a guest speaker and allow a forum for the participants to share their experiences.