SABC to outsource TV licensing

Kimberly Guest
By Kimberly Guest, ITWeb contributor
Johannesburg, 26 May 2022

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is looking to outsource its TV licence operations as part of the remodelling of its corporate structure.

The contract will include the information call centre, and the successful bidder will be required to take on the existing permanent employees, it says.

According to the tender documentation, one of the objectives of the restructuring is to “improve the quality of service to licence-holders, to retain customers and increase TV licence fees revenue collected using the modern technologies available”.

In its 2020/21 annual report, the broadcaster revealed that only 18% of the total licence fees billed was realised as revenue. This low percentage is similar to previous financial years and indicates an “evasion” rate of 82%.

The SABC has also been unmoved in its pursuit to replace the existing TV licence with a technology-neutral public broadcasting levy, despite the public outcry. The proposed tax will be device-independent, meaning that households will have to pay even if they don't have a TV.

Call centres key to collections

According to the SABC, the call centres handle an average of 40 000 calls monthly and are the first point of contact for licence-holders. The call centre is key to improving the collection of TV licence fees and it needs to ensure it is able to service licence-holders efficiently and effectively, it says.

“The key success factor in meeting the service level objectives is the ability to strive for first call resolution. For every interaction with licence-holders, employees take the opportunity to collect licence fees using professional communication skills to engage, educate and ultimately ensure payment is made by the licence-holders.”

The SABC is now looking for a service provider with hybrid-model infrastructure that caters for onsite and offsite working for its TV licence operations.

As for the services required, the tender documentation specifies that several call centre operations are to be outsourced and the successful bidder will need to take on an estimated 93 existing personnel that service inbound, outbound and correspondence requirements.

The inbound call centre is required to provide debt collection support to SABC external suppliers, retail support through validation, first time resolution of TV licence queries, and generate and distribute statements for TV accounts tolicence-holders.

The company will also need to report on the different call types for balance enquiries, TV licence payment queries, pay point information, and updating and/or changing account details.

The 'Information Centre', which is currently staffed by two employees, responds to general information requests on SABC channels, programmes and schedules.

The outbound call centre also generates and distributes TV account statements for licence-holders and will be required to achieve cash collection targets stipulated in the service level agreement.

The correspondence team, on the other hand, responds to written communication received through e-mail, letter, online and web-based queries and will also have turnaround time targets.

Nuts and bolts

As for technology, the SABC is stipulating a cloud-based multi-channel contact centre solution providing for predictive diallers, voice, SMS, e-mail, WhatsApp, webchat or equivalent functions.

This system will have to integrate with three existing core TV licence systems and is required to have a 99% uptime. Functionality expectations include automatic call distribution; interactive voice response; workforce management, including quality assurance reporting and scoring capabilities; multi-channel recording; ability to create skill groups; a quality management application, measuring agent adherence to internal policies and providing insight into call centre performance; and the ability to generate a number of specified and ad hoc reports in PDF format.

Additional technology requirements include storage and archiving of call recordings for the duration of the contract and after; robotic process automation and/or artificial intelligence development tools; remote monitoring of call centre service levels in real-time, via wall-mounted screens and dashboards; and an internet line with a minimum bandwidth of 40Mbps assigned to the SABC.

The successful bidder is also expected to provide technical support for all TV licence operational systems, appropriate office space and infrastructure for employees, workforce management, quality assurance and adherence to call centre industry standards.

Submissions for tender RFP/TVL/2022/1 close on 10 June.