MultiChoice has announced that it is in the process of laying off 2,194 staff in South Africa. All the staff identified to be laid off as the company shakes up its customer care service work in the broadcasting company's walk-in customer centers and customer care call centres.

The company has stated that it has started the consultation process with the affected staff members as required by South Africa's labour laws.

“This has not been an easy decision to make but, in a business driven by advancing technologies, we must continue to drive efficiencies yet be agile enough to adapt to evolving customer needs. We must act decisively to align to the change in customer behavior and competition from over-the-top services. If we don’t reposition now, we run the risk of being completely misaligned and we put everyone’s jobs at risk,” said Calvo Mawela, Chief Executive at MultiChoice.

Video streaming competition in South Africa

For a couple of years MultiChoice has been making public statements about how online video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have put it under pressure. Specifically, the company has been complaining about how services like Netflix are not subject to the same regulations and taxes like their DStv satellite subscription business is subjected to.

However, it is important to state that MultiChoice also owns a video streaming service in Showmax and as such, the move to retrench over 2,000 customer care personnel mainly related to its DStv business could be seen as a signal that the company is repositioning itself. Added to this, in the past several weeks the company has introduced live streaming of sports on its Showmax platform, similar to what it offers DStv subscribers.

“The company is also in an environment where it will rely more on technology than people,” said Mawela.

Software is eating customer care

Apart from the competitive industry that MultiChoice finds itself in, it is worth considering that as the years have progressed customers have become used to using self-help digital platforms to get assistance from various companies. This is illustrated as MultiChoice points out that over the past 3 years they have witnessed a decline in customer phone calls and customers walking in to their service centers.

Digital self help channels, however, now apparently account for approximately 70% of MultiChoice's customer care requests.

In contrast, self-service digital channels have continued to grow, now accounting for 70% of all its customer service contacts.

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