For decades the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has been dominated by Indian outsourcing companies, and more recently by Philippine based service providers. These countries have enjoyed such success in the industry over the years that outsourcing has become a major employer (2.8 million jobs in India and 750 000 jobs in the Philippines) and pivotal contributor to their GDPs (Gwala, 2015).
Now, after years of providing trusted BPO services of our own, South Africa has identified BPO as a key economic enabler and is poised to become the next global powerhouse in the BPO industry. Here’s why global players should consider South African companies as their BPO service provider:
1. Improved Infrastructure:
For years India was the frontrunner in the global BPO industry due to their superior technology solutions. However, with the global development of cloud-based technology and the availability of affordable and efficient broadband in South Africa, these solutions are no longer a key differentiator for Indian BPO providers, making South Africa a more competitive BPO service provider.
2. Cost and Quality:
While South Africa has had its economic challenges over the past decade, the weakening Rand presents a favourable exchange rate for global companies. According to Talksure CEO Jacques De Beer, “South Africa currently ranks as the 3rd largest offshore location for UK and Australian companies who experience significant cost-savings of up to 70% compared to onshore service delivery”. In a competitive economic climate, markets such as South Africa that offer lower costs and better service are becoming increasingly attractive options for cost-conscious companies.
3. Rich Skills Pool:
A rapid rise in the global outsourcing arena is largely due to the increased recognition of South Africa’s wealth of human capital skills in key areas such as financial services, legal process services, IT outsourcing, procurement services and multi-channel customer experience (Martarotti, 2018). Furthermore, De Beer notes: “South African agents have a reputation as ‘free-thinking agents’ who can develop greater empathy with customers. They are naturally skilled negotiators who are able to handle complex calls and take the appropriate action to solve customer’s problem”.
4. Neutral Accent:
With a rapidly growing English speaking population and close cultural associations to the UK, Australia and the USA – South Africa is perfectly positioned to cater to the English speaking world. Additionally, with fresh talent regularly entering the job market (approximately 160 000 university graduates every year), there is no shortage of skilled resources in the South African BPO sector. Interestingly, neutral accents aren’t all South Africa has to offer the developed world, with a rich abundance of French, Portuguese and Dutch speaking talent also positioning South Africa as an attractive outsourcing destination for non-English speakers in Europe and throughout Africa.
5. Work Ethic:
South Africa’s unemployment rate is currently at 29% and is increasing steadily year-on-year. “The South African BPO industry provides a low barrier entry to employment. This is an attractive option for a high number of young and ambitious job seekers who are eager to get ahead in their careers,” says De Beer. “The scarcity of employment results in an industrious work ethic for those who do secure a position within an organisation and a desire to succeed, which has an incredibly galvanising impact on South African BPO service providers. This is just one of the reasons that The Global Contact Centre Standard (ISO 18295) was led by, and is based on, South African standards”.
Only time will tell whether South Africa will reach the heights of the global BPO giants. De Beer, however, is confident that South Africa’s move to the top of the global BPO pile is already well underway: “South Africa has continually been recognised as a leading BPO destination. We have received numerous international awards to prove it and have the knowledge and skills base to make a real difference to our customers’ businesses on a global scale”.