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Study Finds Aussie Contact Centers Trending Up

2008-09-02 08:00:00

Highlights and ‘lowlights’ from the 2008 Australian Contact Center Industry Benchmarking Study, conducted during July and August by specialist research and news organization callcenters.net, reveal the following:

The Australian Contact Center industry generated AU$45 billion in revenue over the last 12 months.

The reliance on contact centers as a primary sales channel increased with 77 percent of all customer interactions being handled by an organization's contact center, compared to only 6 percent (a decrease from 8 percent in 2007) of all customer interactions being handled by the traditional sales force.

The contact center industry continues to grow in terms of seats but saw some consolidation of the number of individual centers in Australia. The total number of seats rose 6 percent, or by 10,927 seats, in 2007-08. There are now an estimated 190,927 seats at 3,821 centers (a decrease from 3,850 centers in 2007) operated by 1,806 companies.

Most contact center activity involves providing customer service (56 percent), but a significant proportion relates to profit generating sales activities. Among those surveyed, 95 percent of all revenue generated has been from up-selling and cross-selling to customers on inbound calls, with only 5 percent of revenue generated from proactive outbound or telemarketing calls.

"It appears that the primary sales channel for Australian organizations is now the contact center, which may signal the complete demise of the traditional field-based sales force which handles only 6 percent of customer interactions," said Catriona Wallace, Managing Director, callcenters.net.

The average outbound conversion rate for telemarketing campaigns in the last 12 months was 23 percent, while the average inbound conversion rate for up-sell or cross-sell campaigns was 22 percent.

Full-time agent turnover surged from 35 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2008, with higher attrition rates in the transport and freight sectors, and in large contact centers with more than 100 seats.

"Ninety-four per cent of organizations reported that the Do Not Call Register made no impact on their contact center's headcount, while 90 percent reported that it made no impact on its gross revenue," said Wallace.

Contact center operating budgets increased by 12 percent from 2007 to 2008, predominantly driven by rising HR costs. The average annual salary for a contact center manager rose 12 percent in the year.

Contact centers plan to spend an average of $260,854 purchasing new technology and $149,535 upgrading and replacing technology in the coming year. This amounts to an average spend of $410,389 per center on technology -- a decrease of 20 percent on 2007.

In the next 12 months, 23 percent of contact centers plan to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) tools. In addition, 20 percent plan to invest in workforce management tools and 20 percent plan to invest in a call (voice only) system.

An average of 56 percent of customers who use contact centers reported an overall satisfaction with their experience, according to the center managers surveyed. 51 percent said they were likely to recommend the center or company.

In June Autonomy (News - Alert) Corporation announced that Unitrin Direct, an automobile insurance provider, has implemented Autonomy etalk's Intelligent Contact Center products across multiple locations to manage quality assurance and liability in the company's sales, service, and claims centers.

The Unitrin Direct deployment includes products for voice and screen recording, agent performance evaluations, customer surveys, and speech analytics.

Unitrin Direct offers insurance in 25 states and is part of a Unitrin family of companies that has more than six million policyholders and $9 billion in assets. The firm lets consumers purchase automobile insurance on its external Web site or via its customer contact center.

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