Sage Pastel, South Africa’s leading developer of accounting and business software, has been named best help desk in the world at the Top Ranking Performer global finals at a glittering ceremony in Las Vegas on the weekend. 

Category runners up were Australian telecommunications company Telstra and Loyalty One, the Canadian air miles reward programme. The global award comes after Sage Pastel was named Contact Centre World’s best help desk in the EMEA region in July this year, having competed against some 600 entries from over 28 countries.

Sage Pastel has been a regular regional winner at these awards but this is the first time it has received global recognition. Steven Cohen, MD of Sage Pastel Accounting, said that this international accolade was a real tribute to the company’s service ethic, which put consistent customer care at its heart.

“Our business software is mission critical for our clients so it is essential that the Sage Pastel after sales and support teams operate like a slick, well-oiled machine that is able to swiftly understand client’s issues and assist them to be functional in their business as quickly as possible. Our ongoing investment in technology has allowed the help desk to improve on the customer experience.”

Sage Pastel’s 170-seat contact centre handles more than 6 000 e-mails, webchats and other contacts per month in addition to the 50 000-plus inbound calls it takes monthly. Customer satisfaction is measured through a number of channels and consistently exceeds 90%.

Cohen said that winning gold was testament to the company’s smart use of technology and its staff recruitment, retention and reward programme.

“I am thrilled that our prioritisation of technology and people has been recognised. Our average staff retention period is double that of the industry standard and every year we grow 12% of our people internally. Our average manager in the support team has been with us for eight years.”

Morne van Deventer, Sage Pastel Accounting’s contact centre manager, says the company hopes to change the perception in South Africa that a job in a contact centre is just a stepping stone to something else, and not a career choice.

“Internationally, it is considered a privilege and a prestigious role to be able to work and grow in the contact centre environment. We hope that this international accolade will help Sage Pastel profile its help desk as a real career choice for ambitious young people looking to enter the world of customer service.

Sage Pastel’s help desk was also a global runner up in the Best Community Spirit category.