In a blow to the local Australian call centre industry, Silver Top Taxis have engaged a call centre outsourcer in South Africa to handle incoming calls to their call centre.
South African outsourcer Merchants announced they have secured the work of Silver Top Taxis on their website who “launched the operation to strengthen its existing support structure, while creating new job opportunities for South Africa’s unemployed”.
Whilst its a blow our local call centre jobs market, for South Africa where unemployment rates hover around 27% the additional jobs is great news. Merchants’ MD George Todd said “Silver Top Taxi’s investment will ensure more people are able to provide for their families, and add value to their wider communities”.
South Africa is increasingly picking up more Australian call centre work (often at the expense of the Philippines) with a native English speaking workforce, competitive pricing and well-developed infrastructure and telecommunication capabilities. Companies such as iSelect, iiNet and Foxtel all have call centre operations in South Africa and there are more companies currently exploring the option.
The primary driver for businesses sending their call centres offshore is not for a better customer experience. With offshore call centres typically saving between 25% to 70% as compared to an Australian based call centre, the driving motivation is to reduce costs.
There are however some flow on advantages on having a cheaper call centre operations which can include being able to open longer hours, having more staff (which can reduce wait times) or the business can pass on the lower costs to customers making the business more price competitive.
The cheaper pricing for using an offshore call centre however can and often does impact on the customer experience so ultimately each business needs to decide whats most important to them. I explored this in one of my recent articles about whether a call centre country location really matters that reveals the pros and cons in more detail.
Everyone I speak to seems to have an experience about dealing with offshore call centres however data from the recent Australian Contact Centre industry report suggests that for businesses who do outsource some or all of their call centre, 78% outsource onshore (within Australia) so its not as wide spread as you would believe. The same report revealed that the Philippines, as a offshore location, has reduced from 30% in 2014 down to 19% in 2018. This suggests that the offshoring attraction is declining however the Philippines is still the most popular country choice as compared to other destinations like New Zealand, India, South Africa and Fiji.
A recent trend is for businesses that have Australian based call centres to actively promote it. In case you’ve missed it, the Commonwealth Bank have recently been heavily promoting their Australian based call centres across all media channels.
While the exposure for our local call centre industry is great, the driver for the Commonwealth Bank has nothing to do with supporting the call centre local industry or by being a good corporate citizen. They understand the link between great customer support and profitability. So using an Australian based call centre is good for business and at least for their customers, they value being able to speak to a local call centre operator if and when they need support.
With the globe shrinking at an ever increasing rate thanks to technology, in markets that are heavily commoditised (like banking) the customer experience is becoming the key differentiator between brands so I expect we will continue to see companies investing in improving their customer service as a way of winning and retaining customers.
With the rapid uptake of apps and chatbots it would appear on the surface that the call centre industry is in rapid decline. Whilst advances in technology may lead to fewer jobs in the future, the current trend suggests that rather than eliminating jobs, its just changing the traditional call centre job functions.
Some of the changes in the call centre industry include:
With increasing competition from ride sharing apps there is no doubt the Taxi industry is under siege and looking to streamline their operational costs wherever possible. Comparing the costs of running a call centre in South Africa to Australia its easy to see the immediate attraction.
As we alluded to above, with more and more people comfortable with ordering Taxi’s via self-service apps or the website, the need to ring becomes increasingly reserved for more complex situations. I was at function last week when one of the keynote speakers was describing the poor experience they had when recently ordering a maxi-cab via the internet. When the maxi-cab didn’t show up on time they called the call centre for help, desperate to understand how far away it was as they had flights to catch.
Its that moment of truth where the call centre experience can make or break the entire reputation of the business. I’m not sure about you but I’d want that experience to be as easy as possible for the customer. Throw in some difficulties with understanding the local area, weather conditions, road works etc along with the potential for some language barriers and that seems like its rolling the dice a little.
Whether or not it proves to be the right strategy or whether this just drives more customers away I guess time will tell.
Silver Top Taxis have been approached for comment.
If you’d like to contact Silver Top Taxis their number is 131 008.