Mathew Conn, group chief revenue officer, Merchants. Photo: Supplied
Mathew Conn, group chief revenue officer, Merchants. Photo: Supplied

BPO now at forefront of economic recovery

By Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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By Mathew Conn

WHILE the social and economic challenges presented by the pandemic and recent period of unrest across South Africa have been devastating to many, they have further highlighted the potential of the country’s BPO sector to drive skills development, job creation and foreign investment – all of which are key to economic recovery.

The unrest further highlighted the devastating effects of unemployment, with some estimates of economic impact at R50 billion. South Africa will need to move quickly to recover from not only the Covid-19 impact but this as well, especially with several sectors being hard hit.

While many industries have shed jobs in the past 18 months, the country’s BPO sector continued to create job opportunities, especially for the most affected by unemployment – those aged between 24 and 35. Customer-experience delivery has become increasingly important as businesses seek to adapt to global Covid-19 restrictions and rapidly shifting customer expectations, bolstering BPO’s ability to create employment opportunities.

Finding the right talent remains critical to the success of the sector. Employing these individuals through digital recruitment tools will allow BPO providers to match potential candidates to available roles by removing legacy barriers to entry like experience and education for job seekers. Rather, the focus will shift to behavioural and skills profiling.

The BPO industry is an ideal training ground for developing and honing the skills that are necessary for success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as problem solving, critical thinking, decision-making, emotional intelligence and people management. This ensures that youth who are employed in the BPO sector will be equipped to find employment and success in other industries and verticals in an increasingly digitally powered world.

The focus on hybrid delivery from customer experience (CX) decision-makers also means more BPO providers are implementing remote working models into their organisations, which further expands the available talent pool to include those with disabilities, those without transport and those in outlying areas, for example.

After three-consecutive years in second place, according to the annual Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey*, South Africa was voted the most favoured offshore CX delivery location in 2021, based on votes from more than 600 global decision-makers. In the face of shifting expectations from CX decision-makers, the country offers significant potential for local enterprises and those looking to expand offshore strategies – and this has not been lost on decision-makers.

An offshore destination is only as strong as the BPO providers that operate within its borders. A decade ago, the low operating costs offered by offshore destinations might have been enough of a driver for decision-makers when designing business strategies. Today, their clear objective is operating in a location where high-quality talent is supported by world-class processes and technology to deliver the best possible interactions for the end client. South Africa has emerged as one of the most flexible when it comes to managing complex, value-driven interactions with consumers.

Looking ahead, there is no doubt that South Africa is the BPO delivery region of the future. It is critical for the country's more than 100 BPO providers to remain committed in the employment of youth and impact workers while driving future-ready skills development at all levels of their organisations.

Mathew Conn, group chief revenue officer, Merchants.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites


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