Brits Are Bucking the Outsourcing Trend
Outsourcing CSRs to India is controversial, but a new report by analyst firm ContactBabel states that contact centers being farmed out to India is having little effect on call centers in Britain, which will provide more than one million jobs by the end of the year. The industry grew by 6 percent last year, mainly because of expansion by firms which already have centers based in the country.
"U.K. Contact Centers in 2007: The State of the Industry," states that there are now more than 960,000 jobs in the sector--3 percent of the country's working population--and this figure is predicted to pass one million by the end of 2007. Salaries for U.K. CSRs are also on the rise, up 8 percent from last year. A breakdown by region shows the North East relies most on the call center industry, with 5 percent of workers in the region employed by the industry.
The boom in offshoring to regions like South Africa and eastern Europe--attractive alternatives to India thanks to low costs, large English-speaking populations, and improving infrastructure, has not had the negative effect on the call center industry that many predicted, says Steve Morrell, an analyst with ContactBabel. "The amount of work going offshore is slowing, with 2006 seeing several high-profile companies announcing their return to the U.K."
The report also found the level of cold-calling telesales and telemarketing activity is continuing to decline in U.K. call centers. Outbound calling activity as a proportion of all calls has dropped from 32.9 percent in 2005 to 29.1 percent and, for the first year on record, the actual number of outbound calls made by U.K. call centers has fallen. The increasing use of the Telephone Preference Service, which lets people opt out of receiving cold sales calls, is one of the factors behind this fall, Morrell says. "Cold calling is increasingly seen as old-fashioned, expensive, and potentially damaging to a company's reputation. Legislation at a national and European level has reduced the number of unwanted sales calls that U.K. consumers receive."
This trend is also reflective of the movement toward permission-based telemarketing and sales seen here in the U.S. with laws such as the Do Not Call list. That said, Morrell says, "Outbound communications will still have an important part to play in business, with companies using it to let customers know in advance about service issues such as approaching credit limits or delayed flights."
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