Indian call centres up against SA | india | Hindustan Times
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Indian call centres up against SA

There are fears in the region that South Africa could also become a viable alternative, with South African firms announcing plans to come and get business from the UK by organising a road show.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2004 19:47 IST

Indian call centre companies face competition from South Africa in seeking business from Britain.

Call centres in Britain's northeast region have seen job losses with firms outsourcing work to India, but now another contender for the same work is South Africa.

There are fears in the region that South Africa could also become a viable alternative, with South African firms announcing plans to come and get business from the UK by organising a road show.

Industry experts are predicting that South Africa will become as popular as India over the next couple of years. While many companies have been put off by India because of reports about poor customer service and a big time-difference, South Africa doesn't present such problems.

Said Angelo Manzoni, from the Trade and Investment Agency in South Africa: "We want to become a hub, like India has done. We want as much business as we can handle."

Firms that provide services to big firms such as British American Tobacco, Pfizer and Shell have already set up bases in Cape Town. The skill base in South Africa is also said to be higher than in India.

Steve Tatlow, from the Lloyds TSB Group Union, insisted it was important that existing job loss proposals were fought to stem any possible future tide. He said: "Once one big company does it, others will follow because of the money they can save. Lloyds TSB could be the trickle that starts a flood and with 47,000 jobs in the region in the call centre sector, that is a massive concern which is why we have to stop the trickle."

Geoff Thompson, managing director of South Tyneside company Amicus, which enables call centre staff to work from home, said: "As well as heading to India, we believe that South Africa will emerge as the biggest threat to the North-East's contact centre jobs because it shares the same time zone as the UK."

"In India, night-shift workers are needed to service the UK but South Africa does not have this problem. The North-East contact centre industry has to move with the times before it gets left behind. It has to adapt or die."