Australia emerges as viable contact centre alternative

Australia is emerging as a viable alternative for call centre operations against popular destinations such as India. Organizations are also become increasingly concerned about quality of service.

Cost cutting is no longer the primary driver in offshoring decisions, according to Concerto Software ANZ & Japan general manager Gerry Tucker, who is using Australia as a reference case for customers across the globe.

"Offshoring has shifted considerably in recent times with US and UK companies pulling back their offshore operations and taking a more blended approach," Tucker said.

"Call centre costs in Australia are still well below those in the US and UK and quality of service here is considerably higher than the rest of the region. It is no longer just about cost, callers need to be segmented rather than outsourcing everything and customer quality is critical.

"Australia sets very high standards in the contact centre industry and are leaders in processes and training regimes which is why the local market is growing."

Despite Tucker's warning about the potential pitfalls of customer service quality, both Citibank and Optus are currently relocating their contact centre operations offshore with all the major banks in Australia assessing similar options.

Tucker said organizations are also assessing VoIP in the contact centre but want the 9.9999 percent uptime they have become accustomed to, a level of reliability that isn't so common when it comes to transporting data.

Now that multi-channel environments are well established, Tucker said organizations are currently hooking up remote branches via VPN and the next step will be VoIP in the contact centre and ultimately end-to-end VoIP.

"We tell our customers Internet protocol is a complete infrastructure swapout which is why enterprises are still assessing ways to future-proof their strategies," he said.

Concerto, which bought up Rockwell and Davox in 2004, held its Asia-Pacific user conference on the Gold Coast at the end of last year. The provider has promised product support for its newly acquired customer base for the next two years while providing them with migration strategies.

Avaya Asia Pacific CTO James Haensly said all the major outsourcing destinations of Asia have been spending big on new technologies such as VoIP in the past 12 months in a bid to remain competitive.

"In Asia the call centre phenomena is still relatively new business, 60 per cent of Indian call centres have been operating for less than four years, but they are still adopting VoIP and IP telephony solutions at a faster rate than elsewhere," he said.

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