BPO creates thousands of jobs

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The South African business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is poised for growth in 2015, with the industry's umbrella body, Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA), estimating about 7 627 jobs will be created within offshoring by March.

According to Lisa Roos, business development executive at Merchants, SA's big accessible labour pool and the available government grants are major draw-cards to companies considering offshoring to SA. She believes the grants are an important signal the government is on board.

Merchants, a wholly-owned Dimension Data company, provides contact centre solutions.

"Government buy-in and support of the industry is important to international customers. They want to know they can make long-term decisions and put something as important as servicing their customers in a place where it's valued and supported by the government," says Roos.

The BPeSA report reveals the South African BPO industry should prepare for a new age of customer resolution centres. 2015 will see a number of changes for the BPO industry - there will be an increase in the use of multimedia in the contact centre as customers move towards digital and self-serve channels, adds Roos.

As businesses focus more on resolution and ease of doing business, some of the work will shift towards pre-emptive action as opposed to reactive, says Roos. Also, the rise of social support where customers are supporting each other will change what's required from outsourced service centres, she adds.

Roos points out, offshoring in SA has been perceived as expensive in the past, but there is now a level of realisation that, although it may cost more for the interaction, the country's contact centres generate fewer follow-up calls and more happy customers than those in many other territories.

Roos believes one of the reasons for fewer follow-up calls is the pervasive use of English in SA, with most agents fluent in the language.

When you are fluent in English, it's easier to emotionally connect with a customer and identify the nuances in a conversation, says Roos. Also, SA's culture has strong similarities to the western world, which is where the bulk of the offshoring is being done from, and this makes the natural flow of conversation easier, she adds.

As the BPO and contact centre industry in SA matures, the natural progression is to look at other, more complex back-office functions to complement the very strong base of English customer care services currently offered, says BPeSA.

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