Why SA was voted 2021’s Most Favoured CX Delivery Region
A new report by Ryan Strategic Advisory today identified South Africa as the world’s Most Favoured Customer Experience (CX) Delivery Region. In recent years, South Africa has established itself as a prime location for outsourcing services for global organisations operating across industries and sectors. Recent social and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have further highlighted the country’s strengths in terms of offering significant potential for businesses through Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Essentially, the local BPO industry is facing a period of major growth and opportunity in a post-COVID world.
“In my experience, there are some circles of thought that suggest that South Africa is untried in terms of outsourcing to specific regions, lacks the infrastructure to deliver the same level of stability as other destinations, lacks government stability and support, and has a large but untested talent pool,” says Mathew Conn, Chief Revenue Officer at Merchants. “The reality, however, is far different. When you do a comparison on the key needs to support a successful outsourced operation, South Africa is well positioned to provide these. In fact, in most cases, the country is at a far more superior level than other BPO regions in this regard.”
South Africa has been a key BPO destination for the UK for many years, has seen recent success with Australian brands and is becoming a destination of choice for US clients alike. Whilst most regions are not immune to government stability or lack of support from local, regional and national government regarding the BPO industry; the recent focus on keeping the BPO sector operating during the national COVID-19 lockdown when most other key regions (including India and Philippines) experienced shut downs is evidence of this support in South Africa and demonstrates that the local government understands the potential of the sector.
The country’s large talent pool is wide ranging in terms of age, race, cultural affiliation, language, and skills set – and the push to work-from-home (WFH) had further widened the possibilities for the kind of individuals who can find employment in the sector. Job creation is critical for economic recovery in South Africa, and the growth in the BPO industry means it is well positioned to play a positive role in this regard. The introduction of best practice and digital recruitment platforms, which incorporate behavioural profiling, can assist businesses in understanding how this talent pool can work best in terms of their specific needs.
A 2020 Merchants survey, which sampled 2000 respondents from across the country, found that problem solving ability was the most sought-after quality a contact centre agent should possess. This was followed by personality, knowledge of products and services, sense of urgency, and empathy, respectively. “While customers often point out the empathy of South African agents and their ability to understand the client concerns and problems, which results in an improved customer experience, I believe the ability of local agents to understand a problem, analyse it, develop resolution options and then implement these steps is what truly sets the country apart in terms of its BPO offering. This problem-solving ability is certainly driven by the wide range of talent available and is the reason that South Africa has a reputation for delivering superior customer experience scores when it comes to Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Key Quality Scores (KQS) and First Contact Resolution (FCR),” explains Conn.
When you add the fact that the country offers world-class facility builds, first world infrastructure, and cost attractiveness that is on par with other large BPO regions, Conn says it is clear that South Africa has a unique proposition that certainly sets it apart from other regions.
In the modern business environment, outsourcing and offshore delivery will shift toward a stronger focus on operating models that offer additional or alternate delivery options, and move away from single region strategies – based on the learnings from the pandemic. Given its superior delivery capability, South Africa is and will continue to be a strong focus for businesses looking to outsource. “The country has also shown a stronger ability to develop operating models that provide continuity solutions to businesses, including Work from Home (WFH) models, increased office continuity and community-based operations, when compared to other BPO regions. The pandemic highlighted the key benefits this ability provides, as local contact centres remained operational with minimal impact,” explains Conn.
Further, a number of initiatives currently underway by key industry bodies, government and BPO providers mean we can expect to see South Africa leading the way in the next five years when it comes to offering business continuity to clients, continued skills development opportunities for the talent pool, the use of the latest technology to provide positive experiences for agents and end clients, and the delivery of world-class BPO facilities.
“Essentially, South Africa is well positioned to become the BPO delivery region of the future,” concludes Conn.