Demand for hosted call centre offerings set to skyrocket

Australia currently a 155,000 seat market

Telstra is set to increase the number of call centre agents providing hosted offerings to Australian business by 4000 in the next 18 months to accommodate massive demand for managed services.

Telstra boasts Australia's biggest call centre with an estimated 30,000 agents.

The telco's contact centre director, Agnes Sheehan, said Telstra has spent "tens of millions of dollars" in call centre technology over the past 10 years and this investment is now starting to pay off.

After years of beefing up its call centre capability, Sheehan said a number of customers approached the telco in 1998 seeking a hosted call centre service.

As a result Telstra has turned its capability and investment in the Genesys platform into a business.

Out of its 30,000 agents, Sheehan said 12,000 are currently on the Genesys platform and there is no shortage of customers which include the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Centrelink, Energex and South East Water.

Genesys Laboratories vice president, Jason Stirling, estimates Australia is a 155,000 seat market and 60,000 of those seats are on the Genesys platform.

"Basically, we are the dominant player in this market and we have seen a significant shift towards hosted call centre offerings," Stirling said.

"Globally 15 percent of our revenue comes from managed services and I expect this figure will increase in the next couple of years. In Australia Im estimating about 40 percent of local businesses will adopt managed call centre offerings in coming years.

"Organizations don't always want to invest in certain technologies and customers can take advantage of an Opex-based business model."

ICT research manager at analyst firm, Frost & Sullivan, Audrey William, said the managed services market in Australia is still in its infancy, although there is already some competition from Optus and other carriers who are testing the water.

"A lot of call centre equipment is at the end of its lifecycle which is contributing to the growth of hosted services and we have also seen a huge increase in the number of home based agents in Australia," she said.

ATO assistant commissioner, John Dardo, said the organization manages an extremely complex call centre environment and a hosted offering helps with the "overflow" or peaks in demand.

Dardo said the ATO has 12 call centre sites taking 12 million inbound calls per year.

He said the workforce fluctuates depending on the time of year from 1300 agents to well over 2000.

The ATO has been using Telstra's hosted services offering since 2004, along with Centrelink who is using 4000 agents.

"With so many sites, inevitably one will go down but by using a managed service we can get the business back up and running immediately," Dardo said.

"We've reduced our abandonment rate by 19 percent, wait times have dropped 20 percent and re-routing, which is when calls are misdirected, has dropped 30 percent."

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More about Australian Taxation OfficeCentrelinkFirst CallFredFrost & Sullivan (Aust)GenesysGenesys LaboratoriesOptusTelstra Corporation

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