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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.

 

 

Author: Alan Graham | 27 January 2014
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