Using PR to launch Amazon’s customer service centre in SA

DUO was called in to assist the company with launching its first customer service centre in Africa whilst managing the expectations of local media and the general public.

When the world’s largest online retailer decided to establish a customer service centre in South Africa, expectations from the local consumer market reached fever pitch. DUO was called in to assist the company with launching its first customer service centre in Africa whilst managing the expectations of local media and the general public.

DUO was a key partner to BPeSA (Busines Process enabling South Africa) since its inception, assisting the newly formed initiative to showcase the young but growing call centre industry in Cape Town. For Amazon, who were looking for a knowledgeable local partner to help it communicate its objectives clearly and without confusion, DUO was a natural choice. DUO’s previous experience with Nasdaq-listed tech companies further positioned us as the preferred communications partner. Our work commenced in 2010.

Amazon Stand (4)

A key misperception among media and the public was that the retailer was opening a .co.za store, and much of the work DUO undertook revolved around educating key stakeholders in the local media about the nature of Amazon’s presence in the Cape. In addition, a need for top-class local staff to work at the centre meant DUO focused strongly on communicating Amazon’s unique customer engagement strategy – driven by customer obsession – in relevant media outlets such as Cape Times’ Career Times.

Amazon Launch Cape Town 29 Aug 2011 Pics Hetty Zantman

A launch event at the Wembley premises in Gardens saw Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and some of her top-ranking MECs attend, along with high-level representatives of the local business process outsourcing sector and consulate staff from the local US embassy.

Overall, DUO’s involvement entailed:

  • Conducting media training
  • Developing a media blueprint
  • Event management for the launch event
  • Organising the press conference at the launch event
  • Pre-publicity in key publications, with expectation management as a key objective
  • Assisting with the recruitment drive

Objectives
DUO was tasked with publicising the opening of Amazon’s customer service centre in Cape Town, managing expectations from media and the public, assist with the recruitment drive for suitable staff, event management for the launch event, and facilitating a smooth introduction for the company into the South African market.

Results
DUO successfully managed a launch event with key high-level governmental and business leaders attending. Pre- and post-publicity in leading business and industry publications such as Business Day, Financial Mail, Moneyweb, Contact Centre Hub and Cape Times Career Times helped educate the local market on the exact nature of Amazon’s presence in SA. The recruitment drive resulted in 1000 positions being filled by qualified local professionals.

Highlights
Based on DUO’s successful involvement in the launch of the customer service centre, we were again called in to help launch Amazon’s Web Services centre in 2012, one of only five Web Services centres worldwide not based in the US. DUO has subsequently been approached to assist with a new Amazon initiative in 2014.

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