South Africa has grown its outsourcing business by 87% since 2010. The industry contributes 5.6bn Rand (£308m) to the country’s economy and employs over two hundred thousand people. This rapid growth has caused the world, certainly the outsourcing sector, to sit up and take notice. South Africa was recognised as the World’s Best Outsourcing Location by the National Outsourcing Association in 2012 and won the Offshore Destination of the Year award in 2013, awarded by the European Outsourcing Association (source).

So what gives South Africa its leading edge in offshore customer management capabilities? 370 thousand English speaking individuals enter the South African workforce every year. Well educated, empathetic and passionate, South Africa’s workforce presents a fluency in English that other offshore markets have failed to match. A strong cultural affinity is another advantage, along with an alignment in infrastructure since South Africa’s financial models are based on the UK’s.

Its competitive advantage doesn’t lie in time zone, cost and quality alone, but in the combination of all these critical factors with the added benefit of emotional intelligence. The South African workforce possesses a natural empathy and a high emotional quotient that is critical in customer contact management, when agents are called upon to manage their emotions and in turn, those of others as part of their job. Emotionally alert, educated, empathetic and aware of the necessities like compliance, this defines South Africa’s advantage in outsourcing.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the true value of Webhelp’s ‘Compliant Interaction’ pricing model and how the South African operating environment provides the perfect marriage of two apparently opposing concepts – the hard and the soft.