Over the last few years, it has become clear that South Africa is a lucrative contact centre outsourcing destination.

Martin DiveMartin Dive

, and its contact centre business process outsourcing (BPO) subsidiary Merchants,  have remained on top of their game in this sector. “A lot has happened since the late 1990s to position the company as a serious player in the contact centre BPO space,” explains , Managing  Director for Customer Interactive Solutions Global.

Much of it has to do with ’s acquisition of Merchants in 1997. The UK-based company,  which was founded in 1981, was already doing business in South Africa. “Since acquiring Merchants,  has not only established itself as an industry leader but has greatly contributed to  moving the local contact centre industry forward,” says Dove.

In 2003, and Merchants established South Africa’s fist major offshoring contract with  US-based AOL. Over the three year contact, the project created jobs for over 2 500 contact centre  agents. “We feel this project helped establish South Africa’s viability as a lucrative outsourcing destination,” says Dove.

In 2004, the company secured its first large UK client, Asda (which forms part of the Wallmart Group).  According to Dove, this contract is still actively running from ’s Cape Town office. In  2008, began running the offshore contact centre for Australia’s second largest ISP,  iiNet. “Anaysis has shown that customer satisfaction scores can be higher in South Africa than in iiNet’s  own contact centres in Australia and New Zealand,” says Dove. “South Africa is proving that it can  provide a better customer experience as an offshore destination than some countries can provide onshore.”


’s Customer Interactive Solution (CIS) offering is at the leading-edge of contact centre  technology solutions, including the evolution to cloud services. Says Dove, “CIS established the first  large-scale multi-region cloud solution for the industry which is being used in South Africa as well as the Middle-East.”

and Merchants publish the Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, which is  widely acknowledged to be the most useful, authoritative and comprehensive report of its kind. Through  analysis of the industry, can remain positive that its solutions remain relevant to customer needs. “According to the latest report, the industry has moved away from seeing cost as a  primary driver for outsourcing,” says Dove. “Risk management and fl exibility are now major drivers, and  this is resulting in a move to cloud services.”

The combined proposition of and Merchants is unique to the industry and can offer  clients an end-to-end solution. The combined expertise of and Merchants (including the  former’s offerings) gives the company the ability to design, implement, and support all the technology needed to run a contact centre environment.

are not only pioneers in the local market, but can offer a much more comprehensive  and up-to-date solution than any of its local competitors,” Dove concludes.