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Amazon.com Cape office to treble

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Amazon.com now employs 500 people in its Cape Town customer service centre, ten months after opening. It expects to increase headcount to around 1400 by the end of next year.

Employees at Amazon’s customer service centre in South Africa say the company’s work culture and the opportunities for rapid advancement make it an attractive employer ‚ and word of mouth has become its most important recruitment tool.

‚I worked at four other call centres before I joined Amazon last year, and I’ve found this experience to be the best yet,‚ says Themba Ndlovu, 32. ‚Within 6 weeks I was promoted to Team Lead. My next goal is to become a Customer Service Manager.‚

Amazon launched its Cape Town customer service centre in October 2010 with less than 100 employees. Ten months later, the company has grown to 500 employees and has moved into new, purpose-built premises at the Wembley 2 development in the city bowl. The employee count is planned for approximately 1400 by the end of 2012.

The Cape Town centre offers phone, email, and chat support to Amazon customers in the United States, Germany and the UK. The facility is also home to an Amazon Development Centre, which supports the Amazon Web Services business.

‚We look for employees that want to help us achieve our vision of being the world’s most customer-centric company,‚ says senior site leader Scott Sommers. ‚That means our staff need to be customer-obsessed, with a strong focus on innovation and problem solving ‚ and we empower them with the skills and authority they need to do the job.‚

This emphasis on innovative thinking and independent action has attracted several high-level employees. ‚I spent seven years in a more senior position at my previous employer,‚ says Llewellyn Marks, 27, a trained quality assessor. ‚But I was willing to start as a customer service associate again, just for the chance to work at Amazon.‚ Marks was promoted to quality improvement specialist within eight months.

Specialised units within Amazon offer a variety of career paths to new recruits, who gain skills in a range of disciplines from HR through training to analysis.

‚We’ve made dozens of promotions this year,‚ says Sommers. ‚We reward hard work and innovative thinking, and our employees value that upward mobility. Employee word of mouth referrals are our most successful recruitment channel.‚

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