Call centre industry set for billion-dollar leap

The burgeoning growth of the Australian call centre market could provide much needed jobs for regional cities, according to a study released this week.

The CCR research, titled The Australian Call Centre Location Study, showed the local call centre industry was worth $2.5 billion and would grow to $3.5 billion by the start of next year. Martin Conboy, director of CCR, said Australian call centres and help desks employed 60,000 people and some served international customers.

Most of the call centres in Australia were set up close to major population centres, mainly to access an available workforce as well as the "perceived need" to remain in close proximity to the head office and back office functions, the research said.

Conboy said prior research suggested this pattern had placed enormous demand on available labour resources, with high turnover rates.

"Customer service conducted via the telephone is implicitly a decentralised activity that can be conducted, more or less, from any location," the research said. "Some major corporations, including large Australian organisations, open CCs in locations other than the traditional metropolitan centres."

Conboy said it had become increasingly evident over the past two years that the issue of location had become an ever-more important cog in the decision to open or relocate a call centre, and the industry is in sore need of site location information.

Call centres have become a company's strategic asset and were the implementers of important customer relationships, Conboy said.

"The call centre is fast becoming the central business unit within the enterprise, as it is not only the custodian of the customer relationship, it is the customer relationship enabler," the report said.

Conboy said about 80 per cent of Australians used call centres to conduct personal transactions and more than two-thirds of businesses transactions are conducted via the telephone.

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