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Vodafone is moving customer services jobs to the UK from South Africa to improve customer service levels.
The mobile phone company will create 2,100 UK jobs as part of a £2bn investment in customer services. The jobs will be spread across the Midlands, Manchester, Scotland and Wales.
A Vodafone spokesperson told Computer Weekly that the company uses agencies in South Africa and will gradually phase this out. He said the reshoring of the call centre jobs will bring the companies consumer mobile customer services in line with its UK-based call centres for UK business and broadband customers.
Vodafone said in a statement: “As part of its £2bn investment programme over the 2016-19 period, Vodafone is committed to enhancing the quality of its UK customer services operations. A significant expansion in the number of UK-based customer service advisors is integral to that commitment.”
Over the next two years, Vodafone will create 800 new jobs in Manchester, around 150 new jobs in Newark and Stoke, as well as around 100 in Glasgow.
But in the longer term and cross-mobile business sectors, advances in technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence could see fewer call centre jobs in the future.
Mark Lewis, outsourcing lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said modern technology will reduce the reliance on low cost offshore services. “I would have thought that a combination of advanced customer relationship management systems, automation and artificial intelligence will bring more jobs onshore,” he said.
However, he added that the total number of jobs will inevitably diminish as technology replaces people.
This is the case in many business sectors. For example, a recent report from financial services management consultancy Opimas said, in the capital markets, 230,000 jobs will be replaced by technology by 2025 with only 30,000 jobs created as a result.
The finance sector is already experiencing this disruption. Japanese insurer Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance recently said it is replacing more than 30 staff by using IBM Watson cognitive computing software to read medical documents that are used to assess payments.