Africa beats India on offshore call centre costs

Salaries of just $8,900 and cheaper telephony bills, says study…
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Salaries of just $8,900 and cheaper telephony bills, says study…

Africa and the Middle East is one of the cheapest regions in the world to run an offshore call centre from based on wage and telephony costs alone, according to new research.

The eighth annual Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report by Dimension Data found that the annual salary range for a call centre agent in Africa and the Middle East ranges from just $8,900 to $22,100. The dominant location in that region is currently South Africa.

That compares to a range of $24,500 to $33,100 for a call centre worker in the UK and Europe and $22,000 to $36,200 in the Asia Pacific region. North America has the lowest pay rates in the developed regions with call centre staff picking up between $17,600 and $26,400. The study says salary costs, on average, comprise 70 per cent of the operating budgets of call centres.

But high staff turnover remains a problem for all centres with a global average attrition rate of 21 per cent, according to the benchmarking figures. Customer satisfaction - one of the key indicators of call centre performance - also dropped one per cent this year to 82 per cent.

The report said: "We see ongoing issues in managing people in contact centres – there are continued high levels of attrition and absenteeism rates, which have negative customer service and commercial implications. These are often exacerbated in offshore markets where scarce talent (particularly at management level) and a high concentration of centres are a reality."

Blended sourcing models combining a mixture of outsourcing, offshoring, in-sourcing and co-sourcing (shared services) are increasing in popularity and organisations with multiple sites across the globe are adopting a portfolio approach to managing them.

Cost reduction was cited as the key driver for offshoring by almost half of respondents, followed by access to skills and availability of staff.

New technologies and automation are also seen as key to improving call centre performance, with just under half of respondents using or planning to use speech recognition to deal with more complex customer interactions over the telephone.

The report covers 331 respondents from call centre managers in 38 countries, with 44 per cent from the UK and Europe, 24 per cent from Africa and the Middle East, 21 per cent from Asia-Pacific and 11 per cent from North America. The main industry sectors were financial services, telecoms, and travel and transport.

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