Outsourcing Customer Service - Philippines or South Africa?

Outsourcing Customer Service - Philippines or South Africa

It won’t come as a surprise to business owners that delivering exceptional customer service is crucial to success.

However, excellent customer service can also take its toll on profit margins which can leave you stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Companies worldwide have found the happy medium of reducing costs whilst improving customer satisfaction.

The strategy? Call center outsourcing.

But, where should you outsource?

Two popular outsourcing destinations for businesses are the Philippines and South Africa.

This blog post dives deep into the pros and cons of these two top outsourcing destinations, so you can make a better decision in which is the right fit for your organisation.

So sit back and discover the factors that can help you make an informed decision tailored to your business needs.

Why do companies outsource customer service?

A group of customer service representatives in a call center

Outsourced call center services have become an indispensable part of the call center industry.

The call center outsourcing sector has grown rapidly, fueled by the demand for cost-effective solutions to manage customer interactions.

Companies often outsource customer service to reduce costs, improve service quality, and focus on core business processes.

Outsourcing customer service has gained traction globally, with the Philippines and South Africa emerging as hotspots for call center services.

Offering excellent customer service skills and having more advantageous economies, these countries have become attractive to businesses looking to provide seamless support to their clients and hire a global customer experience specialist.

So which country would be a better fit for your business? That would depend on your goals.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how the two countries compare in terms of cost savings, quality of service, and scalability.

The rise in Customer Service Outsourcing to Philippines and South Africa

A map of Philippines and South Africa with a marker on each country

Over the past few years, South Africa has emerged as one the fastest growing hotspots for Business Process Outsourcing, especially for call center services such as customer service.

As we discuss later in the article, it’s unique positioning in the world has tipped it to become the call center capital in the near future.

With its cost-effectiveness, highly educated workforce, and well-developed infrastructure, South Africa’s BPO sector is now home to some of the world’s leading brands such as IBM, Lufthansa and Carphone Warehouse.

Similarly, the Philippines has also become an outsourcing hotspot thanks to its educated workforce, low cost of living, and operational costs.

Today, the Philippines has witnessed an increase of call center outsourcing companies, providing a wide range of services to clients.

Both country’s contact centers have become popular among businesses seeking cost-effective solutions and a large pool of skilled professionals.

With a strong focus on customer satisfaction and excellent customer service skills, both the Philippines and South Africa have carved a niche for themselves in the outsourcing industry.

Cost Savings

Outsourcing customer service to the Philippines and South Africa can result in significant cost savings for businesses, and is typically a driving factor in firms delegating non-critical functions overseas.

The lower cost of living and operational costs in these areas has a beneficial return on investment for companies.

Call center agents in the Philippines and South Africa typically earn an average of 70% less than their European and North American counterparts.

Whilst those cost savings may vary by region, both countries still provide a competitive edge in terms of labor costs.

Quality of Service

Both the Philippines and South Africa offer high-quality customer service, with skilled and experienced professionals across numerous sectors.

Call center agents possess excellent customer service skills and are often college educated. They undergo supplementary training for brand and process needs to ensure seamless support to clients.

In addition, as customer service agents have just one function, it allows a sole focus to increase customer satisfaction.

As a result, companies outsourcing customer service to these countries can expect to receive top-notch support and improved customer care.

Scalability

Outsourcing allows for easy scalability to meet changing business needs. This can

By working with an outsourcing partner, companies can:

  • Quickly scale up or down their customer service operations without incurring considerable costs or disruptions

  • Effectively manage changes in customer demand

  • Guarantee an uninterrupted customer experience

The benefits of outsourcing customer service to the Philippines and South Africa include:

  • Access to a large pool of skilled professionals

  • Ability to easily find the right talent when scaling

  • Flexibility to adjust the size and capacity of the outsourced team according to business needs

  • Cost savings by only paying for services when needed

Key considerations for Outsourcing customer service Philippines & South Africa

A group of customer service representatives in a call center discussing customer service outsourcing

Although we have mentioned the benefits you can expect when dealing with call centers in South Africa or the Philippines, there are some key differences that you will need to consider to help determine which is the best region for your outsourcing needs.

These include:

  • Time zone

  • Price

  • Skills availability and maturity

  • Experience and expertise

  • Language and accents

  • Technology and infrastructure

  • Accessibility and visitor appeal

Analyzing these factors can help companies make an informed decision tailored to their specific needs and priorities.

Time Zone

The time zone differences can have a massive impact for your organisation.

Communication and collaboration between teams can be affected dependant on your requirements.

South Africa has an advantage over the Philippines on time zones, as it is closer to the working hours of the UK and US, making it an ideal location for outsourcing.

In fact, the UK time zone there are only 2 hours in difference from South Africa. This gives a significant advantage to the region than its Filipino counterpart.

This is also true for North America, with South Africa being 6 hours closer to the time of New York (6 hours difference) than the Philippines (12 hours difference).

If your idea is to have a team collaborate between each other, or take over in functions that take place during your working hours, a Philippines call center may not be viable and a South African BPO could be more suitable to your requirements.

By implementing these strategies, you can ensure a smoother communication and collaboration across different time zones.

Technology & Infrastructure

The technology and infrastructure of any country you are outsourcing operations to should be paramount in your decision making.

South Africa has a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure, featuring high-speed internet and various mobile networks. The Philippines can also boast similar services.

However, the Philippines infrastructure is known to be more unreliable than its African counterpart. Typhoons and flooding means organisations are prone to natural disasters, that could leave your business being affected.

If it is critical your operation has minimal downtime, South Africa could be a better option for your outsourcing partner.

Price

The business process outsourcing industry in both countries provides significant savings, with the Philippines being slightly cheaper overall.

However, South Africa is still a significantly more cost effective solution comparable with Europe and North America, making it a viable option for businesses that prioritize other factors, such as language proficiency or a more mature outsourcing industry.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on a thorough analysis of the company’s specific needs and priorities.

Skills Availability & Maturity

When utilising call center outsourcing services, considering skills availability and maturity is a must to ensure your functions are in responsible hands.

South Africa boasts a large and expanding pool of qualified customer service professionals, making it an appealing choice for businesses seeking to outsource customer service.

Similarly, a Philippines call center also offers a talented workforce with a strong focus on customer satisfaction and excellent customer service skills.

The maturity of the outsourcing industry in both countries is another key factor to consider.

South Africa has a well-established business process outsourcing industry, with call centers in the customer service area playing a pivotal role in its growth.

The calibre of talent that can be accessed to carry out various outsourced roles, has lured large organisations to make a home within South Africa and utilise the advantages having a base here offers.

The Philippines offer on the other hand, has seen a surge in customer service outsourcing in recent years, with contact centers becoming increasingly popular among businesses seeking more cost-effective solutions.

Evaluating Experience and Expertise

Although outsourcing companies may be able to hire from a strong talent pool or provide significant savings, another key consideration is the experience and expertise of each organisation.

As both regions share a strong history within the outsourcing industry, compared to other countries South Africa and the Philippines are both home to organisations that are proficient in most outsourced services.

For example, most call customer service operations firm in the Philippines and South Africa typically receive training in customer service best practices, language proficiency, and accent neutralization to ensure effective communication and customer satisfaction.

This is typically targeted to coincide with Western culture where most of the BPO industry placates for.

Language and Accents

An image of a group of professionals engaged in Philippines customer service outsourcing with diverse language and accents.

As your chosen call center will be an external face of your organisation, the language proficiency and the accents can play a critical part in how a business is perceived by its customers.

Language proficiency and accents play a crucial role in effective communication and managing customer relationships.

BPO language offerings

Customer service professionals in the Philippines and South Africa possess a variety of language and accent capabilities.

English is an official language of both countries, and customer service agents in the country typically possess a high level of education.

However, the countries have other languages that differentiate how they can service larger markets.

The South African BPO industry can support services in several languages due to the diverse nature of the country.

Outside of English the country can support Dutch, German, French and Italian native speakers to cater to diverse market needs.

In the Philippines, call centers also provide multiple language offerings such as Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.

Accents

Although language proficiency is the first barrier to be broken, accents can also play a big factor in how your customer support is engaged with.

Dialects, accents and tones all play a part in how a customer perceives your company. This is why most offshore companies provide ongoing training to try and develop the ‘correct’ accent for the campaigns.

South Africa has a huge advantage in this department compared to other countries in the BPO industry in that it has a ‘neutral’ British accent.

The Philippines offer a good accent for the western industry, however their accents are tailored more towards the North American market.

Accessibility & Visitor Appeal

Considering the accessibility and appeal of each country for potential visits and on-site management is also important.

While this blog post does not delve into specific details regarding the accessibility and visitor appeal of the Philippines and South Africa, it is crucial to factor in the ease of travel and visa requirements for on-site management and training.

Dependant on where you reside in the world, each country will have varying travel requirements. We have attached a link below to each government website should you wish to research further;

South African Travel Requirements

The Philippines Travel Requirements

Companies should also consider the cultural compatibility of their potential outsourcing partner.

Ensuring that the outsourcing team aligns and respects your company’s values, as well as the culture of your customers, is essential for maintaining a positive brand image and delivering exceptional customer service.

Other Considerations

A group of people discussing the political and environmental stability of Philippines and South Africa

Apart from the factors discussed above, businesses should also consider political and environmental stability, as well as economic incentives offered by each country when deciding on an outsourcing destination.

Both the Philippines and South Africa provide various incentives and support for companies that outsource customer service, making them attractive options for businesses seeking cost-effective solutions and an improved customer experience.

These countries offer a range of benefits, such as lower labor costs, access to a large pool of people.

Political & Environmental Stability

Assessing the political and environmental stability of each country is crucial for ensuring a stable outsourcing environment.

The Philippine economy is strong with a stable democracy, while South Africa can also boast the same environment.

However, as these components can change dynamically, political and environmental stability should be thoroughly evaluated when making a decision about outsourcing customer service to either country.

Political & Environmental Stability

Assessing the political and environmental stability of each country is crucial for ensuring a stable outsourcing environment.

The Philippine economy is strong with a stable democracy, while South Africa can also boast the same environment.

However, as these components can change dynamically, political and environmental stability should be thoroughly evaluated when making a decision about outsourcing customer service to either country.

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Environmental Stability

Environmental stability can be an issue when outsourcing to a different regions over long distances.

The Philippines has a disadvantage in this arena as it experiences typhoons and major flooding. Both of which means the country is prone to infrastructure damage and blackouts for your chosen operations.

South Africa fortunately is not prone to such environmental disasters, and can be seen as a more reliable option from that perspective.

Economy & Incentives

Economic incentives and support offered by each country for outsourcing businesses should also be taken into account.

The Philippines offers tax incentives to incentivize companies to outsource customer service, while South Africa provides a range of incentives such as grants, subsidies, and tax breaks.

These incentives can help businesses further reduce their operating costs and improve their overall customer service experience.

However, it is essential to evaluate the long-term sustainability and viability of these incentives when making a decision, as economic conditions and government policies can change over time.

Choosing The Right Outsourcing Partner

A group of people discussing the best customer service outsourcing partner

Choosing the right outsourcing partner involves evaluating their experience, expertise, and compatibility with your business needs.

It is essential to select a reliable outsourcing provider that is compatible with your company’s values and objectives.

Assessing the experience and expertise of potential outsourcing partners can help ensure a successful partnership by making a more informed decision tailored to your business needs.

Ensuring that customer service agents receive appropriate training in customer service best practices, language proficiency, and accent neutralization is critical for effective communication with your customers, and ultimately their satisfaction.

Consumer Links - Customer Service Outsourcing Experts

At Consumer Links, we provide an Outsourced Customer Service that household brands trust.

We have been experts in the BPO industry for over a decade, assisting numerous companies across varied sectors with their customer support services.

We also offer several other outsourcing solutions to help you focus on your core functions, whilst not losing out on service levels.

Some of our other outsourcing services include;

We have provided the above services in numerous sectors, including;

If you would like to discuss your requirements, fill in the form on this page and one of our team will be in touch.

Philippines or South Africa - Summary

In conclusion, outsourcing customer service to the Philippines and South Africa has its unique benefits and challenges.

Both countries provide cost savings, excellent customer service, and scalability, making them ideal locations for businesses seeking to improve their customer experience.

However, it is essential to consider numerous factors such as time zone compatibility, price, , experience, language and infrastructure when choosing between these two outsourcing destinations.

By carefully evaluating these factors, businesses can make an informed decision and unlock the potential of outsourcing customer service to drive success in today’s competitive market.

In conclusion, both the Philippines and South Africa can offer attractive options for customer service outsourcing.

By thoroughly examining these factors, companies can make an informed decision that best suits their requirements and ultimately leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Outsourcing customer service to other countries allows businesses to reap cost savings, as labor costs can be much lower than in Western countries, allowing them to save up to 70%.

This cost savings can be a great benefit to businesses, as it allows them to invest more in other areas of their operations, such as marketing, research and development, or employee training.

When deciding between the Philippines and South Africa for outsourcing customer service, time zone, price, language proficiency, office technology and infrastructure should be taken into account.

These factors should be carefully weighed to determine which country is the best fit for your company’s needs.

For example, time zone is an important factor to consider, as customer service needs to be available during the hours that customers are most likely to need assistance.

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