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Contact Centre Industry Better Than Expected

NZ Contact Centre Industry Reports Better Than Expected Growth

But study warns of likely contraction in 2011

Auckland, 27 September 2010 – New Zealand's contact centre industry recorded 4% growth in 2010, taking the country's total number of seats from 28,730 to 29,000. The increase is higher than the 1% rise predicted 12 months ago but research released today cautions against optimism, pointing to a 5% decline in operating budgets over the past year and a likely 1% decline in seats in the 12 months ahead.

These are amongst the key findings of callcentres.net 2010 New Zealand Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking Report, the latest in an annual series of contact centre industry surveys, sponsored by RightNow, a provider of on demand customer experience solutions that help consumer-centric organisations deliver great customer experiences. The research is based on interviews with contact centre executives representing over 60 individual contact centres, 12% of which are outsourced contact centres. The interviews were conducted last month by specialist research, consulting and news organisation, callcentres.net.

Agent turnover

The uncertain business environment of 2010 saw full time agent turnover decrease to a low of 28%, compared with 31% in 2009 and 35% in 2008. Part-time agent turnover also decreased, reaching 36% compared with 40% in 2009 and 35% in 2008.

Technology investment starts to rise
Contact centre technology expenditure increased by 6% during the year, rebounding from a 19% decline in 2009. However, there is still has some way to go before the spend climbs back to 2008 levels.

A technology strategy of growing significance is the enablement of the multi-channel contact centre. One in ten New Zealand contact centres have fully implemented multi-channel integration (encompassing voice, self-service and online channels), with a further 38% reporting that they have partially implemented such measures.

Similarly, 21% of contact centres have fully introduced multi-channel agents with responsibility for handling customer contacts via voice, assisted self-service and online channels while one third of contact centres state that they have partially implemented multi-channel agents.

Dr Catriona Wallace, Managing Director, callcentres.net said, “While the industry is showing some positive signs, the decline in operating budgets and next year's anticipated drop in seats indicate that contact centres need to proceed with caution. The research results suggest that the NZ contact centre sector was not as strongly affected as the Australian industry by the economic downturn, however, the recovery may take a more time in NZ."

Customer Experience
The industry reports an average customer satisfaction score of 80% satisfied customers, just 1% less than reported in 2009. The contact centre industry’s self-reported Net Promoter Score (NPS which is a measure of customer advocacy) improved in 2010, rising from an NPS of 24 in 2009 to 31 in 2010.

The sectors reporting a higher than average level of customer satisfaction include Transport, Professional Services and Finance, Banking & Insurance. Sectors reporting a lower level of customer satisfaction include Telecommunications and Retail/Wholesale.

2011 Challenges and Objectives

While the budgetary constraints of 2009 may not be as critical a focus for contact centre operators, many of last year's challenges continue to be of concern. Upgrading existing technology, inadequate headcount to effectively meet business requirements and improving customer satisfaction topped the list of challenges facing the industry in the short term.

When asked to rank their primary strategic objectives for the next 12 months, the industry nominated four key areas: improving customer service (38%), upgrades to technology (36%), cost reduction (29%) and increasing agent performance (29%).

Brett Waters, Vice President Asia Pacific – South, RightNow, said, “The survey points to some signs of positive momentum in the New Zealand contact centre market but the onus will now be on management to deliver great customer experiences in a complex and rapidly changing business landscape where consumers have the power and every interaction matters. With an evident emphasis on customer satisfaction, organisations will need to put in place strategies which can deliver consistent experiences across all interaction channels, including web, social and contact centre.”

About the 2010 Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking Study
The 2010 Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking Study was sponsored by RightNow and produced by callcentres.net.

The study provides detailed information to help organisations better manage their contact centre operations and benchmark their performance against the contact centre industry in areas such as contact centre operations, technology, human resources, key performance indicators, budgets, seat costs, quality assurance, customer satisfaction and the significant challenges facing the industry. The study has been conducted annually since 1997. www.callcentres.net <http://www.callcentres.net/>

About callcentres.net
Established in 1998, with offices in Sydney, Malaysia and Singapore, callcentres.net is the central portal for the Australian and Asia-Pacific contact centre industries, providing research, benchmarking studies, consulting services and up-to-date news and information. www.callcentres.net <http://www.callcentresnet/>

ENDS

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