You weren’t in Africa? You’re Gaou!

Le 10 décembre 2019 par Magazine En-Contact

Of course, the 5th edition of Sarcca would not have hosted, in the green park where they settled, multiple technology booths or major providers of European contact centres but for the dynamic Anna Catche (organizer of the African Salon for Customer Relations) who has succeeded in attracting a large part of those who believe in Africa as a new homeland for BPO actors at 6:30 am. To the point of installing beautiful production sites and share, on Thursday evening of Ascension, a gala dinner organized for the presentation of Palmes. The founders of Reach Consulting, Media Contacts, Vipp or Nixxis rubbed shoulders with the managers of Webhelp centers (Karim Layachi), representatives of the brands Canal + International or MTN, in a joyful hubbub. The emotion and enthusiasm that we felt during the 3 days of conference are very similar to those we hear in the spheres of call centres, undeniable and the main assets of Benin, Ivory Coast or Senegal. These three countries in West and Sub-Saharan Africa saw the world’s largest contact centres set up in less than eight years, after a few pioneers set the stage. For la few, there would be almost a traffic jam, for example in Senegal, a destination often chosen by these major players, when they reflect on the ideal country for their installation. A fairly conformist choice for some. « The risk country sometimes plays against a country such as the Ivory Coast, considered more risky but it is a misconception, » says a good connoisseur of the continent who adds: « in a year, certainly, elections will be held here but in Africa anyway, no one can predict too much of what can happen.  »

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Smile + emotion, the killer African application?

Happening in Abidjan, in Dakar, in the suburbs of Cotonou less people and start uppers than VivaTech. Yet in these cities we find that the somewhat crazy growth of their countries makes them messy and noisy, sometimes caught in torrential rains, the explosive cocktail evoked everywhere and at the heart of the customer experience: emotion and the ability to find the solution, whatever the obstacles. « In contact centres, for example, the famous smile in the voice often exists and only needs to be developed, » says Jean Suzanne, Coach at Vipp-Interstis. « We have developed applications by young local coders, » says Anna Catché, projects delivered on time by young developers, less pretentious than some European providers. While many start-ups or more established companies are working on the analysis of emotions in France or in Europe, especially in conversations, sub-Saharan contact centres are full of profiles that produce this emotion daily, which is noticeable.

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The homeland of Angélique

(The unknown Benin)
She is a diva, one of the most influential women in the world of music for more than 30 years and her performance during the ceremonies of November 11 last year in Paris, has successfully made her known to those who were still unaware of her talent. Married to a French musician and composer whom she met in a jazz school (Jean Hérail), Angélique Kidjo chained collaborations with the greatest. Is Ravel’s Bolero, when sung by Angélique accompanied by Branford Marsalis, the best testimony of the old ties that unite Africa and the rest of the world? What she said about collaborations in her art illustrates in any case, a proven fact in Benin: « We must take our time here, do not rush things too much, pleading methods of conducting project type consulting, » smiles Charles-Emmanuel Berc.
The Beninese singer said that she would have liked to collaborate with Aretha Franklin, or Miles Davis, but that in both cases the projects were not completed because of the death of her idols. « When it comes to music, I’m never forcing things. I must be able to wear what I do, be in total truth.  »
A small country in which the port is the economic lung, which allows in particular to transit cotton and all that comes or goes to the sub-region, Benin has hosted the company Media Contact Call Center for more than ten years now, founded on the spot by Claude Padonou, former executive of Cap Gemini. After a complicated beginning, « Since we had to sow in this country the culture and the tools necessary for a good level of customer service delivery, the company has mainly developed through collaborations for endogenous markets, settling besides 4 other neighbouring countries, » says the founder. Its only neighbour on the spot in Cotonou, the economic capital of the country, is now Vipp, who arrived 7 months ago and who duplicates the recipe that has been successful in Cameroon: ambitious and innovative training programs, requirement of all times and everything level since some of its major clients entrust it with customer acquisition programs. « We employ nearly 700 people on site now, » said Fabrice, one of the Cameroonian pillars who left like a soldier on a mission to open this new destination. The framework of the management is indeed coming from the teams of Yaoundé, the city in Cameroon where the company was based until all its development. « Beninese teleconsultants are very respectful of authority and rules. So we have to teach them that in a phone sale, directivity is essential as well as not listening to all objections. In Cameroon, at a red light, we do not necessarily stop, » smiles the great sportsman. To achieve the rhythm of hell imposed by the orders of the principals and the ambition of the founder, the body-attack sessions bring together, twice a week, young recruits and management, in a dedicated room. And it’s not Ravel’s Boléro that sets the pace, far from it. Tired hearts abstain!

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Yellow fever did not scare anyone

(They’re all in the Ivory Coast)
Even though it remained isolated on the chessboard of destinations adapted to BPO and contact centers, Côte d’Ivoire now hosts very large providers of the Top 10 in France and Europe: Acticall-Sitel was almost a forerunner, Majorel (Arvato) also has an entity there, as does the voluntary leader of the European market, Webhelp. The size and the modernity of the two centres installed since last year (in total more than 1200 working positions) denote the strength of Webhelpian convictions. « Part of this is the risk of new practices in BPO, health and other areas being invented, » said Karim Layachi, the country’s local manager, at one of the conferences at Sarcca. Like his cousin, born like him in Morocco, Intelcia, the group co-founded by Karim Bernoussi did not wait to roll out their plan and move to Abidjan too. More than 450 agents place the subscriptions of a telephone operator and a cable company in a corporate environment and which marks the standardization of procedures and good practices. In less than three years, the Moroccan lion cub has defied many predictions. In Abidjan, in the 5th at Longchamp, there are people on the starting line!
Ecartin Bosson, Intelcia site manager in Ivory Coast, has a Portuguese-sounding name, but he is a good African and a specialist in the business. His skills, he developed them at Ericsson. In a remarkably organized centre, the areas corresponding to the collaborating course are linked in a vast clear space to corporate branding. Selection and recruitment, initial training, skills upgrading and production. Yet it is the family spirit that is the chosen by the agents to qualify the atmosphere of the company, locally.

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In Abidjan, Intelcia has created one of the 26 sites that the Group manages in the world, in 8 countries.

« The Group’s organization allows us to have good synergies between the central teams that guarantee consistency in carrying out our clients’ operations, the alignment of practices and the local teams that ensure delivery and who are autonomous in the management of the site. Thanks to this combination of central alignment and local management, the Abidjan site is quickly assembled with skills. In less than a year, 80% of the management was formed from internal promotion « , says the site director.
« The Intelcia site represents today a quarter of our devices in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding the Indian Ocean). With nearly 500 employees, the site hosts customer service and technical support activities for one of our major telecom customers as well as customer service activities for local customers. We will increase to 1000 employees in 2020. The country has great potential for growth and the employment pool is rich with a high level of education, » Karim Bernoussi.

Facts and figures

A young population, offering a large pool at a lower cost for teleservices activities.

220 million Africans are aged between 15 and 24, making Africa the youngest continent in the world.
75% of young Africans are literate.
10 to 12 million young people enter the labour market every year.
60% of the unemployed Africans are young.
79 € / 85 € per month, England & France, the average minimum wage for each language area.
A decline in growth that has failed to break the 3% mark since 2015. Large disparities in GDP growth in 2018 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Francophone zone:

7.7% Ethiopia
7,5% Ivory Coast
7.2% Rwanda
6.6% Senegal
6.6% Tanzania

English speaking area:

8.8% Equatorial Guinea
1.8% Angola
0.6% Eswatini
0.7% Namibia
0.9% South Africa

Source: Reach Consulting Study

The lake city of Ganvié

The lake city of Ganvié, on Lake Nokoué, has more than 35,000 inhabitants, all living in dwellings on stilts. Fishermen reproduce ancestral gestures all around.
The first residents of this wonder located 30 minutes from Cotonou would have settled there to escape slavery. Happiness is shared by boat. No accommodation possible on Booking.com, no rental on Airbnb. Africa, taking the time, is sometimes at the forefront of modernity.

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Architecture of the teleservices sector

Why adapt buildings, training tools and recruitment techniques in West Africa?

In a studious and follow-up conference, led by Reach Consulting during SARCCA 2019, the firm’s founders analysed and described the trends and figures that explain the development of the teleservices sector and the key conditions for the success of a local implementation. The visits made on the spot, in Cotonou (Benin) or in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), demonstrate a rigorous consideration of these factors by newcomers. In both cases the sites managed to recruit 600 and 450 people respectively in less than a year. See the pictures of the sites of VIPP and Intelcia in this report.

Pitfalls to avoid and points of vigilance when implementing a Teleservices activity

Building: The choice of the building is essential for the success of the implementation project. We must find the premises that meet the needs and constraints of the activity while taking into account the access of staff to the site. The layout of the building must also be secured in order to respect the planning and the quality of the finish expected.
Adapting recruitment methods: Although the pool is important for client advisors, management and recruitment methods must be adapted to local constraints in order to guarantee the quality of resources. Special attention should be paid to the following profiles, which represent a real challenge: telemarketer, proximity manager and functional / production manager.
Tools: The telephone and IS infrastructure is a major issue for contact centres; which even more important on the African continent because it is necessary to import this equipment in a complex regulatory and logistical context. Social networks will also impact contact centre tools.

Source: Reach consulting Jean-Yves Coloigner and Alain Ebongué

By the editors of En-Contact
Photographs by Emil Hernon

See more about VIPP and Charles-Emmanuel Berc, here.

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Commentaires

Une réponse à “You weren’t in Africa? You’re Gaou!”

  1. Do you think that this incredible speed in which African companies are expanding and growing means they will quickly overtake European companies and other companies settled abroad in places such as Madagascar or the Philippines? Is west/sub saharan Africa now the number 1 destination for French call centres?
    Is this rise only in relation to call centre or is there something to be learned in Africa regarding other aspects of customer service? As a small business owner it would be interesting to know where in the world I should be looking for help and inspiration when managing the customer service elements of my company.

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