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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  24 Sep 2009

INFOTECH: Cape Town Serves Up Cutting Edge Customer Service


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Opening a Cape Town contact centre has helped leading Australian ISP iiNet improve its customer service – thanks to a leading-edge methodology as well as some friendly rivalry between its South African, New Zealand and Australian staff.

Merchants has operated one of iiNet’s four “follow the sun” customer contact centres since July 2008. iiNet offers its 725,000 customers 24/7 service from contact centres in Perth, Sydney and Auckland, as well as Cape Town, which takes over at the end of the Australian working day.

Merchants’ Business Development Manager Lisa Roos says iiNet, known for taking an aggressive stance on customer service, uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure its success. “The NPS methodology asks customers to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely they would be to recommend the company to a friend. It’s a simple but very effective measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction.”

Tracking the NPS scores for each contact centre daily, iiNet MD Michael Malone says renewed competition between centres “has upped the game all around. Cape Town’s June score would have made it the clear number one in January, but Perth, Sydney and Auckland are all doing better now. If there was ever any complacency, it’s gone now.”

Malone adds that regular online contact, plus staff visits back and forth between Cape Town and Australia have made the competition even more intense: “It’s quite personal. The result is that our customers can’t really tell the difference between the Australian and South African contact centres, which is good news for us.”

Roos adds that for iiNet, “the sun rises and sets on the NPS. A lot of people talk about it, but iiNet really takes it seriously. It brings a level of customer centricity that I've never seen anywhere else.” Roos explains that every time a customer contacts any of iiNet’s customer service representatives, a survey is automatically emailed to them. “We get about a 12% response rate, and we read every single one. If a response is needed, it happens quickly.”

The results are evident in the responses which the Merchants iiNet operational team receive. “The lady from Cape Town was really helpful today,” said one recent customer.  “I think I made the right decision to go with iiNet after speaking to her.”

This is the main reason I won't change providers - great technical support regardless of what time it is,” said another customer.

These responses reflect the success of iiNet’s sharp customer focus, says Roos. “They didn’t come to Cape Town to save costs,” she says. “They came to ensure they could offer 24/7 service to their customers, without making their staff work unpleasant shifts. iiNet understands that if you want to treat your customers well, you first have to treat your staff well.”

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