Local call centre industry as good as US

Call centre development and deployment in Australia is on a par with US and Canadian counterparts, said a spokesperson from the Australian Telemarketing and Call Centre Association (ATA).

Fresh from a trip to visit call centre operations in Toronto and San Francisco, Bob Westcott is national president for the ATA and national manager for call centres at recruiting firm Manpower.

He said the Australian call centre industry is "in terms of technology and ability . . . as good if not better" than the American industry.

According to Westcott, although there are differences in the size and number of call centres in the US compared to local operations, Australian call centre managers can rest assured the latest technology is available here at virtually the same time it is released in America.

And in some ways, local call centres are "making better use" of it, he said. "Seeing that we are of at least the same or better than world standards in the way we do business in Australia in call centres", Westcott said, was encouraging.

He attended the trip with key industry players and call centre managers from banking, insurance, telecommunications, universities and government organisations around the country.

He said the trip also provided the opportunity to see the latest call centre innovations in hardware and software from the likes of Aspect Communications and Lucent Technologies.

According to ATA's CEO, Richard Allen, the group was interested in the benefits of the Internet to call centres.

"The Internet is becoming an increasingly important element in call centre operations," Allen said.

"The advantages the Internet offers call centres are unbelievable.

The IBM call centre we visited has grown through the roof since introducing Internet technology into its operations three years ago."

Westcott said voice recognition was also an area to watch as it was "becoming very strong" despite some vendors saying they were not ready yet.

While in the US, the group also attended the Road Ahead 15th Annual Convention of the American Telemarketing Association in San Francisco and met telemarketing associations from around the world.

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