The response of Samsung’s call centre when the South African lockdown was announced serves as an example of how rapid response and the right technology and systems to enable remote working led to the centre delivering beyond the expected performance.

Samsung’s call centre is managed by iOCO, a wholly owned subsidiary EOH. The call centre comprises approximately 180 operatives as well as a dedicated technical support staff.

A seamless process

When the lockdown was announced, the business saw disaster response planning kicked into high gear. Working closely with Samsung, the iOCO team led a smooth transition from the office call centre environment to a work-from-home scenario within just 48 hours.

Some of the key process in that period included:

  • The agents were migrated off site in phases, so that teams were fielding calls without interruption;
  • The required technology was delivered to call-centre agents’ homes before the lockdown began, and arrangements made with equipment manufacturers and delivery companies, who were classed as essential services, to continue to provide support; and
  • Effective reporting tools were a priority in order to ensure continued service quality. The standard comprehensive telephony reporting system was augmented with attendance and productivity features.

Productivity and efficiency surged

  • The effectiveness of the remote call centre operation is achieving immense success. Productivity is the highest it has been in 18 months, agents are thriving in their home environments, customer satisfaction is exceptional, mandatory training cadence has been sustained, and service standards are being met and exceeded.
  • Fewer calls in total have been missed since the start of the lockdown period – maintaining a greater than 99% answer rate. 95% of calls are answered in 20 seconds, against a benchmark of 86%. And customer satisfaction has increased by 5% overall.
  • Paul Croll, Samsung Africa’s acting Customer Service Director, said: “At first I was sceptical that we would be able to maintain our service levels due to the scope of moving from a fixed call centre environment to a work from home situation, especially considering that we are an Africa support call centre and many markets would be in normal operation. However, not only have our performance standards been maintained, but in most cases they have been exceeded. Through our partnership with iOCO we have truly been able to continue delivering service to our customers across Africa, while supporting the need to stay at home in support of the fight against this pandemic.”

Morale increased

Call centres in general suffer from high staff attrition. But in Samsung’s case employee attrition has been non-existent over the lockdown period. Operators are reporting satisfaction with increased autonomy and flexibility, costs saved on transport, and less time spent on commuting.

Kirsten Olifant, one of the call centre’s specialist agents, said: “One never pays attention to how stressful the office environment can be until you work just as hard but in the comfort of your own home. I am excited to be to be employed by a company with the technology that allows me to continue working  without the stress of lacking anything.”

The importance of partnership

iOCO, in agreement with Samsung equally invested significantly in the process, with both organisations covering 50% of the costs enabling the call centre to work remotely. This recognises that compromise is required, and collaboration essential, if we are to navigate the pandemic with as little impact as possible on our economy.

“Although this pandemic has created chaos in our lives, it has also brought us closer to our clients. More so, we have a greater sense of solidarity as we came together to ensure we protect jobs. We are grateful our client has continued to pay for services, and that we have had the ability to show our own support by sharing the load of all the remote working costs, and today we have a client for life.” iOCO Executive Fazlin Swanepoel.

A glimpse of a new normal

It is clear from the effectiveness of this remote operation that it is likely to usher us into a new normal in terms of how businesses, and particularly call centres, operate. Whether or not the lockdown continues, we’re likely to see either hybrid solutions coming into effect or fully remote working environments.

As Swanepoel concluded: “Enabling teams to work remotely was a new crazy idea … If we did not try, experiment, tweak and iterate, we would never have known just how great this really is. We still have a lot to learn, but I do believe it’s only through trying that we can change the world.”


About EOH
The EOH Group is the largest technology business in Africa, providing the technology, knowledge, skills and organisational ability critical to Africa’s development and growth. Following the Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing model, the EOH Group provides high-value, end-to-end solutions to its clients in all industry verticals. The Group employs more than 8400 people, delivering technology solutions and knowledge services to over 5 000 large enterprise customers across all major industries. As a leader in driving and supporting digital innovation, the Group offers solutions along a simple. Design-Build-Operate engagement model through its two independent businesses, iOCO and NEXTEC.

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