Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The UK Contact Centre industry - a snapshot & top contact centres

I was very interested to see the Times carrying a "Top 50 Contact Centres" supplement on the 7th November. It was backed with a decent sized event in London and accompanying website.

This is tied to the CCF (Call Centre Focus) magazine and aims to recognise outstanding customer service. I have no quibble with the aim of putting customer service higher up the business agenda, but my concern is that there is a real danger of too many awards from too many organisations. Afterall, the 4th & 5th of November was the CCA (Customer Care Association) awards, where I had a vested interest because I had provided some sponsorship and where Cisco's own customer service operation has previously done very well (see the past post: Congratulations to Cisco's own contact centre team ).

I don't think we're quite at the stage of world professional boxing with the alphabet soup of title awarding bodies, like the WBC, WBA, IBF, etc..., but we are getting close.

There is, though, a decent argument that this shows that the UK contact centre industry is in good health and extremely vibrant. I think there may well be an element of truth in this and that the number of associations is a reflection of that.

I was also particularly interested to see that the excellent Australian blog "Your Call" on CallCentres.net had also seen the Top 50 supplement and provided a snapshot from it of UK Contact Centre Industry stats:

  • 5180 contact centres in the UK
  • 48 billion calls received by companies from customers annually
  • 3% of UK workers are employed by call centres
  • 53% of employees would recommend the job to a friend
  • 84% is the overall average performance score for the Top 50 centres with regard to timeliness, ease of use, personalisation, reliability and knowledge
  • 94% of queries are answered in the first call.
While it's hard to draw quick conclusions from such high-level stats, this looks like an industry that is generally coping even though the downturn has made things quite challenging. This was the impression I got from the rather good Contact Babel report, "The UK Contact Centre Decision Makers Guide". A decent range of statistics but from my reading of it, supporting the view that the UK contact centre industry is generally very capable, even if under pressure due to the economic circumstances, and is a significant part of the UK economy.

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