Local call centre operations ready to spend

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An industry-sponsored study has claimed the Australian call centre market is set for expansion, with 62 percent of local call centres signalling plans to increase operations in the next 12 months.

An industry-sponsored study has claimed the Australian call centre market is set for expansion, with 62 percent of local call centres signalling plans to increase operations in the next 12 months.

The ACA Research study was sponsored by call centre industry website Callcentres.net, telecommunications vendor Avaya, contact centre integrator NSC Enterprise Solutions, service provider Witness Systems and contact centre operator Salmat Teleservices.

Martin Conboy, CEO at Callcentres.net, said survey responses in the study had implied plenty of room for local call centres to grow.

Some 62 percent of Australian call centres surveyed indicated they would ramp up their operations in the next year, he said.

Call centre operators were placing more emphasis on "quality and outcomes" rather than quantity in customer interactions. As a result, they planned to invest more, he said.

Thirty-eight percent of Australian call centres had fewer than 20 seats, while customers had 69 percent of sales contacts arriving via call centres, he said.

"The number of call centres offering outsourcing services had dropped dramatically, underscoring the shift from price-based outsourcing to quality providers who actually deliver what they promise," Conboy claimed.

Kerry Scotland, marketing director at voice-and-data integrator Integ Communications, said the results tallied with Integ's experiences in the market this year.

"Call centres are planning to upgrade their technology in the next 12 months - about 44 percent [of customers]," she said.

Research had shown different call centres were planning to upgrade to different technologies. About 19 percent were keen on CRM, and 16 percent wanted to get voice and data recording functionality, Scotland said.

Some 14 percent were moving to CTI (computer telephony integration), 12 percent to IVR, 11 percent to IP telephony, and 10 percent wanted outbound diallers, she said.

"When we're speaking to customers and potential customers, we find that they're interested in upgrading their technology and quite serious about it," Scotland said.

Integ would tackle that demand by making sure it offered the range of technologies available, especially those that streamlined call handling and were scaleable, she said.

The greatest cost to call centres was staff and operators were continuing to favour technologies that would enable expansion for less cost, Scotland added.

Craig Neil, chair at NSC Group, said NSC was seeing a "large uptake" of IP telephony in line with research statistics.

NSC had also commissioned a call centre study looking at VoIP. In that study, 63 percent had indicated they would "eventually" deploy VoIP. Fourteen percent said they would do so in the next 12 months.

The integrator had been beefing up its design and application team in response. VoIP had suffered from a bad reputation in the past, due to the poor voice quality offered by available technology.

However, companies could get good results if they did proper data and bandwidth audits before making a decision on VoIP or building a unified network, he said.

"IP telephony [adoption] is only going to accelerate," Neil said.

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