EMEA to Add 16,000 Call Centers by 2008

According to a new report from Datamonitor, rapid growth in both supply and demand for customer care services will lead to the creation of 16,000 new call centers and 600,000 new call center agents in the EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) region by 2008. The traditional hotbeds of European call center activity--the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia--will see little growth in the coming years. Instead, Datamonitor predicts, growing economies in tier 2 and 3 regions, ranging from western Europe to South Africa, will create higher demand for domestic call center services, while aggressive technological catch-up will make eastern European call centers prime providers of customer care outsourcing. "The economy is rebounding, consumer spending is going up--so there is going to be an increased need for customer care," says Peter Ryan, CRM analyst at Datamonitor. Datamonitor projects that the call center employment base will grow at more than a 6 percent annual clip to reach 2.1 million agent positions by 2008--a total increase of 40 percent over the period. "The workforce is evolving and demanding more skill sets, and certainly more linguistic capability when dealing with eastern European markets," Ryan says. This will make young, educated workers ideal for the opportunities to come. "It's a good, steady job, and people coming out of college and university will have the skill to deal with people calling from the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and Italy." Due to the need for rapid growth, smaller call centers will make up a relatively larger share of the total EMEA market over the next five years, Datamonitor predicts. Call centers with fewer than 30 reps will account for fully 55 percent of all installations, up from 49 percent, while call centers with more than 100 reps will fall from 13 percent to just 11 percent. Financial services, manufacturing, and telecommunications industries will continue to be the greatest consumers of call center services, but the fastest growth will come from public sector and healthcare users. "The public sector has been wary about investing in call center services, but is now coming on strong" with a 12 percent annual growth rate, highest in the survey, Ryan says. "In France and Germany it might be pushed by national-level government, while in the U.K. it's being driven by local government," he says. "But we're seeing this being a trend across northern Europe." Although tier 1 countries are expected to have roughly three in 10 call centers equipped for multichannel customer care by 2008, the overall EMEA multichannel market is just 6 percent today, expected to grow to 15 percent by 2008. "It's going to take a little bit of time for people to hop on," says Ryan, anticipating that SMS queries to call centers will account for a great deal of multichannel uptake. "You'd be surprised how fast people can do an SMS message."
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