Australian contact centre industry introduces its first body of standards

Gold, Silver and Bronze accreditation

The Australian Teleservices Association (ATA) will formally adopt the region's first industry standard to be officially launched in Sydney today.

Finalised after several years of consultation with industry members, the Australian Contact Centre Standards (ACCS) were initiated by the ATA in direct response to the needs of members.

Determined to take the bull by the horns in creating a self-regulating industry, ATA executive director, Michael Meredith, no standards programme existed anywhere in the world, making the launch of the Australian Standard an important regional initiative that can be exported across the globe.

Providing Gold, Silver and Bronze accreditation levels, the ACCS program provides a framework for the establishment of industry benchmarks.

The initiative will ensure contact operators are compliant with best practice including data integrity, privacy, complaints resolution and customer satisfaction monitoring.

Meredith said Australian can adopt the standards in outsourcing arrangements to deal with security and privacy issues.

"With competition for market share fierce, demand for sales leads has fuelled demand for skilled agents, leading to rapid employment growth and career advancement, which also makes it more important to address any areas of business and public concern," he said.

According to Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) statistics, employment in the contact centre industry has increased 11.2 percent in the past five years.

"The contact centre industry is a huge employer in Australia. Questions about the legitimacy of some telemarketing practices have placed the spotlight on offshore operators and the integrity of outsourced data, which has called the right to privacy into view and resulted in the launch of regulatory legislation like the Do Not Call Register," he said.

"The ACCS initiative is timely as it will assist our members and indeed, any contact centre that wishes to participate.

"Improvements within the industry only serve to make Australia even more competitive than it already is within the Asia Pacific region."

Meredith said while media attention has been focused on the number of jobs going to cheaper offshore labour markets, the favour with which Australian contact centres are regarded internationally is often overlooked.

According to the ATA, Australia already provides the centre of excellence for contact centres across the Asia Pacific region.

"The region's first standards will hopefully serve as an example to other industries on and off shore, of how to conduct professional and valuable services and also strengthen Australia's relationship with the burgeoning Asian Contact Centre industry," Meredith added.

The ATA was established in 1989 as the professional governing body for Australia's contact centre industry.

Overall, the Australian contact centre industry is estimated to comprise 1,750 firms representing 3,850 contact centres.

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