DTI predicts massive rise in UK call centre jobs

The
UK’s call centre industry is set to gain around 200,000 jobs in the next three
years, according to a report published today by the DTI.

‘The
UK Contact Centre Industry: A Study reports that the sector is healthy, and is
set to employ more than one million people by 2007 – four times more than India
in the same year.

Despite
the rise in ‘offshoring’ of call centre jobs, the UK industry has grown by
almost 250 per cent since 1995.

The
report’s key findings:


The quality of service in UK call centres is high. But the Government and
industry need to work to improve perceptions of the UK industry.


The skills of the call centre workforce need further improvement – particularly
‘soft skills’ like communications and customer service. Call centres should
develop existing training and qualifications, from pre-job training up to
senior call centre management.


Despite perceptions of high turnover, the average length of service in a call
centre job is two years, eight months. Schools and careers offices could be
provided with resources on career paths and opportunities in the industry.


Companies should consider all the implications before taking offshoring
decisions. Stakeholders – including customers, employees and trade unions –
should be consulted before decisions are made. UK call centres should not
compete with offshore contact centres on the basis of low costs, but by
improving quality and demonstrating a viable alternative to the inherent risks
of offshoring.


Evidence suggests that there are a large number of hidden and poorly understood
costs associated with offshoring, such as the cost of relocating senior
management, travel costs and customer discontent.


UK call centres need to continue improving the quality of customer experiences.
For many businesses, call centres are the main channel through which the
customer deals with them – so a positive experience is vital to maintaining
companies’ reputations.


Companies should encourage consumers to register with the Telephone Preference
Service, which prevents companies from making unsolicited sales calls to boost
consumer confidence.

Secretary
of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt said: "Others are
unbeatable on cost, but we are unbeatable on quality. The best UK call centres
are the best in the world – offering high-value businesses, high-skill
professionals – but we need to bring the quality of the rest up to that of the
best.

"But
we’ve all experienced the frustration of being put on hold for ages or just not
being able to reach the right person in the company," she said. "Improving
the customer service and skills of our call centres are the best ways of
preparing for the future."

www.dti.gov.uk

By
Mike Berry

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