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.