BPeSA: Cape Town - a World-Class BPO Destination

Cape Town is a low-risk, high-quality business process outsourcing and contact centre destination. It is particularly well suited to customer service operations and complex back-office work in telecommunications, banking, financial services and insurance. BPeSA Western Cape is a public-private partnership that works with potential investors as an independent facilitation partner.

Low costs, high customer satisfaction

Companies that have invested in Cape Town have enjoyed savings of between 50% and 60% without compromising on the quality of service to their customers. Voice of the Customer surveys for the UK offshore sector have shown high levels of customer satisfaction (96%) and first-call resolution (78%). Indeed, only 5% of customers realised they were speaking to an offshore agent. Around 1.2 million residents of Cape Town speak English as their first language and their accent has proven acceptable across the UK, US and Europe.

This quality was one of many contributory factors behind the decision of BPO provider Stream to use services in the Western Cape. Bob Dechant, executive vice-president of global sales and marketing, said of the area: "The Western Cape is a strong and best-in-class location to establish BPO and customer-care services. It greatly enhances our global presence while ensuring a world-class, highly-educated and stable workforce for our Fortune 1000 clients."

An obvious choice

Capetonians have a natural service ethic, high customer empathy and great soft skills. With unemployment around 26%, many view contact centre or BPO work as a long-term career rather than a stepping stone to something else. Loyalty to employers is high, reflected in a compounded annual staff attrition rate of 16%. As noted by 1 Stream director Jed Hewson: "The Western Cape has two important aspects that cannot be ignored by companies looking to offshore their call centres: an educated workforce and world-class technical infrastructure."

There are currently around 35,000 contact centre agents employed in Cape Town and BPeSA estimates there is adequate short-term supply for up to 85,000 agents. In the long term, the government and the private sector are investing heavily in skills development and attractive incentives are available for those who take on learners and interns.

"There are currently around 35,000 contact centre agents employed in Cape Town."

Financial services skills are a particular strength. "As far as BPO destinations go, South Africa is second only to India as a BPO destination in terms of producing qualified CFAs, chartered accountants and actuaries," says Fagri Semaar, interim CEO of BPeSA Western Cape.

For Fusion SA managing director Johann Kunz, the decision to direct the company’s BPO needs to South Africa was simple: "The decision to offshore to South Africa was an easy one for the BGL Group. South Africa enjoys a close affinity with the UK, and with the large availability of skilled, English-speaking resources and developed infrastructure provided at a very competitive rate, it is no wonder that more companies are looking to South Africa for their BPO solutions."

World-class infrastructure

South Africa is a robust democracy with excellent infrastructure including power, transport and telecommunications. Intellectual property and data privacy legislation is up to date, the legal system provides strong protection and its mature insurance, banking and telecommunications industries have strong legal and product similarities with the US and UK.

Telecommunications services are more expensive than in the UK, but industry deregulation has led to a dramatic increase in competition and there is strong downward pressure on prices. International bandwidth capacity is continuing to increase as more undersea cables come online in the next two to three years.

South Africa’s Government has made a long-term commitment to the BPO sector. The Department of Trade and Industry offers specific incentives to BPO investors, and BPeSA is well placed to guide prospective investors through the process.