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Business Day (Johannesburg): Shell to Site ‘Super’ Centre in Cape Town

August 21, 2006
Posted to the web August 21, 2006

Stephen Gunnion
Johannesburg

ROYAL Dutch Shell plans to locate one of its global super customer service centres (super-CSCs) in Cape Town, in a vote of confidence in the local economy, the group said at the weekend.

The centre will be one of a handful globally and will provide customer services and credit management support to business customers of its oil products in France and the Netherlands.

Shell is one of several companies looking at locating their call centres in SA due to its central time zone, low costs and stable labour force.

It is estimated there are more than 500 call centres in SA, mostly in Gauteng. Cape Town is, however, growing its market share and is expected to have about 37% of the nearly 1000 call centres independent analysts Data Monitor predicts SA will play host to by 2008.

Data Monitor said labour costs in SA were about two-thirds of those in the UK and US. Quality of service ranked ahead of India, another popular call-centre destination.

Other companies using Cape Town for their call centres include Budget Insurance, JPMorgan, IBM, Barclays and Lufthansa, among others.

Shell said its decision to choose Cape Town for the call centre included language capability, ease of implementation and time-zone compatibility with Europe.

The centre is expected to be in operation by June next year.

Shell SA communications manager Dennis Matsane said the centre would be staffed with South Africans, who would be trained to speak Dutch and French.

The centre in Cape Town would employ about 100 full-time staff. This number could double over time, depending on demand, Shell said.

Shell SA country chairman Paddy Milner said staff would receive 18 weeks of language conversion training, followed by customer services training to meet global standards.

“It’s particularly pleasing for us at Shell that this new initiative is not only good for Shell customers and the economy of Western Cape, but it is also directly aligned with government’s Accelerated & Shared Growth Initiative for SA,” Milner said.

Milner said President Thabo Mbeki had identified business process outsourcing as one of two sectors needing special priority attention by the private sector. By 2009, government wants to have created 25000 new jobs in contact centres.

“Shell is glad to be responding to his call by establishing a super-CSC in Cape Town.”

Matsane said the group would start recruitment of staff in the next few weeks and that a site for the centre would be identified.

He could not confirm how much Shell was investing in the centre.

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