SA Commercial cites empowerment and mentoring among reasons for its success Cape Town, 24th November 2014: Unemployment among South African youth is a widely known reality: It is estimated that among 15 – 34 year olds, 36% do not have a job. This places South Africa as third in the world with regards to the global youth jobs crisis*. Yet despite this bleak picture, there are pockets of opportunity that give young people – who don’t have tertiary education or extensive work experience– a chance. A case in point is within the fast-growing South African BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry, or as it’s more commonly known, contact centres.
At last count, BPOs contributed R9-billion to the Western Cape’s GDP and created 41 000 jobs (BPeSA) – largely among young people who want to upskill themselves and accelerate a career. Based predominantly in Cape Town, the BPO industry is thriving both locally and among the offshore market.
Mogamad Gierdien, Operations Director for SA Commercial, one of the leading BPOs in the country, explains, “Our industry is an economic gem: It’s in an upward growth cycle, creates thousands of jobs and significantly adds to the local GDP. Despite this, its potential to uplift South African youth is not that well-known and flies under the radar.”
SA Commercial for instance has a staff complement of 170, each representing clients such as Capitec Bank, Old Mutual and The Western Cape Government. “Staff are exposed to big businesses when they join us. This affords them the opportunity to work across a range of diverse industries and carve their career. We put plenty of focus on training so they can confidently act as their client’s most trusted partner, and offer mentoring to guide them,” says Gierdien.
Voice training remains a key cog in the contact centre communications wheel too and, despite the evolving digital landscape that includes email and social media channels clients “still prefer an old-school telephone call or, for a modern twist, web chat,” says Gierdien.
As such, SA Commercial has teamed-up with Helen O’Grady drama academy to train its team on voice techniques, tone, annunciation, pronunciation, and voice range. “We resemble a band warming up for a concert, complete with practice runs of “doh-ray-me”! It’s good fun, creates camaraderie and, of course, warms up the staff’s voices so they can master their calls.”
Besides these unusual tips and tricks of the trade, SA Commercial is also committed to the upliftment of its staff. “As a company, we’re a close knit-team. We’re also a family-run business which is why we place so much emphasis on staff well-being and personal growth. Our MD, Renee Keeble, is a great mentor – inside and outside of the office – and she hosts regular one-on-one sessions with staff so as to motivate and empower them,” says Gierdien.
It’s attention to detail like this that is reaping notable dividends for the company – especially in a fast-growing and competitive industry where staff turnover can be high. “Our staff turnover is below the market average. This is testament to our focus on people development and to providing a stimulating atmosphere where young people can grow professionally,” concludes Gierdien.