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Busting some BPO myths

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By Valerie Grace Roscoe. Valerie is a BPO industry expert and business consultant, who knows everything there is to know about the ins, outs, ups and downs of the BPO industry! 

Before we go into more detail about the benefits of a career in Contact Centre, I am first going to bust some myths or untruths that are knocking about out there by sharing what I have been hearing for the past 23 years in the BPO industry. This information is important to help you make the best decisions for your future career path.

Myth: “It isn’t a real career”

Reality: Nothing could be further from the truth! You can start as an unskilled school leaver or a person with minimal office work, computer or technical skills yet progress within a period of 3 -6 months or a year.
When you start as an Outbound Sales or Inbound Customer Service Representative, Training and Coaching or even Database Administration agent, you can progress quickly to a Quality Assurance or Supervisor position.

After 2-5 years you can progress to management and upper management positions. There are many opportunities for promotion to positions such as:
Business Development Manager, Client Relationship Manager, Key Accounts Manager, Operations Manager, IT Support, Chief Information Officer, Compliance Officer, Business Intelligence Analytics, Chief Financial Officer, Contact Centre Manager and many other positions.

Some people even decide to become entrepreneurs and start their own content centres once they have enough management experience.

Myth: “The hours are terrible ”

Reality: Oh my gosh, I have heard this one so many times and my standard response is, “Guys, all decent, ethical and law-abiding contact centre employers optimise their workforce by doing shift work!”

It has to be this way because, if you are in a contact centre servicing the international market, the geographical time-zones are different.  You are servicing international customers at the times when they are awake to take or make calls. That is why shift work is required.

Shifts are used to ensure that contact centre staff do not burn out. Management must make sure that there is enough time to train for new campaigns or programmes as well as performance and continuous improvement training.

It is better for BPO companies to keep employees well, and happy, than to keep recruiting new staff, so we rest our people and respect their personal challenges as well.
Many outsourcers have very cool Wellness Programmes that vary from centre to centre. Some may be free to use or there may be a small subsided fee. Wellness Programmes include things like monthly massage and spa moments, Addiction Assistance services, Gym, Health & Lifestyle, Child Care, Psychological counselling, Trauma and HIV Aids and/or other Dread Disease counselling and support and Conflict Management and Resolution.

Myth: “There is no job security”

 Reality: As I mentioned earlier, there are major job progression and promotional opportunities in the Contact Centre industry. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort along with a can-do and positive attitude – you will do well.

The Business Process Outsourcing & Offshoring industry, also known as Business Process Management Services, and more commonly known as the Contact Centre/ Call Centre industry, has long been a driver for economic and social development in South Africa. It currently employs over  40,000 South Africans servicing South African companies and destinations across the globe.

Our National Skills Strategy is designed to re-skill, up-skill and future-skill the local workforce, creating opportunities for entry-level skills. The biggest bonus point of all is that it ensures that South Africans are competitive in the digital world. This creates optimal employability for school leavers, young people or individuals wanting to switch industries and looking for a solid and promising career choice.

Promotions are intentionally fast-moving. The reason is that once a client is happy with the performance levels of their contact centre outsourcing partner, they scale-up (expand the seats or numbers on their programme or campaign). Quality workers are awarded the promotions and opportunities, along with the extra incentives or commissions as well as pay increases in some cases.

Myth: “Call centres are only for young people”

 Reality: This is not true. Here are the recent statistics from the industry body, BPeSA (Business Process Enabling South Africa) Key Indicator Report, 2018

Workforce Demographic by Age Group in Domestic Markets   

18-25 yrs   =  35.7%
26- 30 yrs  =  57.2%
31-40 yrs   =    7.1%

Workforce Demographic by Age Group in International Markets  

18- 25 yrs  =    79.4%
26-30 yrs   =    18.8%
31-40 yrs   =      1.9%


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