Call centres have handy cost cutter

South Africa’s call centre industry was one of the first — and is one of the biggest — users of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

There are several reasons: VoIP is cheaper than traditional telecommunications, it’s simple to manage and a rand- based overhead can be applied to services that can be delivered anywhere in the world.

Said Anthony Askew, business development manager at ContinuitySA: “Even the South African government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, is backing the technology in order for the country to get more international call centre business from foreign businesses.”

VoIP uses traditional data network technology to route voice calls locally or internationally and that’s a big drawcard for organisations wanting to slash the country’s high fixed-line telephony costs.

“We’re in the same time zone as Europe and English is widely understood and spoken here,” Askew added. “That’s a pretty compelling scenario for companies that, in the faceless world of call centres, can locate their facilities wherever it’s most cost-effective. Operational fees are cheaper here using VoIP and infrastructure is also inexpensive.

“Things like salaries, equipment and office space don’t compete with other countries vying for call centre business — like India, for example — but it’s cheaper than many countries with so-called developed economies and the local personnel are first rate.”

As for retail consumers, many with broadband access are using services such as Skype to bypass a significant portion of Telkom’s call costs.

Skype is a broadband technology that piggybacks on ADSL networks to deliver much cheaper international calls. Skype- to-Skype communication is free.

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Call centres have handy cost cutter