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Industry Research : The Call Centre as We Know is About to Bite the Dust
More than 60% of contact centre managers are expecting a shortage in skilled staff over the next few years, a new report has found. That’s in an industry that includes 4,500 contact centres and employs 250,000 people, about 1% of the Australian population.
As customer demands for faster and more personalised service increases, and managers are pressured to reduce costs and introduce new technology – workers with the right balance of skills will be in short supply.
The report – Looking to the future: The 2013 Contact Centre Trend, Salary and Leadership - found that 67% of managers expect ‘soft skills’ like emotional intelligence will be a key trend in Australian contact centres over the mid-long term.
Publisher of the report, FuturePeople CEO Linda Simonsen, says that at a time when customer engagement is top of the agenda for 90% of CEOs, and as transactional demands are increasingly dealt with by self-service options and more offshoring, the role of the in-house contact centre must become more about delivering real value over the customer lifecycle.
"In fact, the call centre of today will disappear. In the future, I believe it will really be known as the customer engagement centre," Simonsen says. "However, to achieve that, we’ll also need to find and develop the agents of the future."
The report reveals that 25% of managers are already facing skill shortages, and that 61% of managers believe that a key mid-long term trend will be difficulty recruiting the right people with the right skillset.
"What we’re seeing here is the agent of the future will be both multichannel and emotionally intelligent," says Simonsen. "They’re not just masters of engaging through technology, they’re masters of reading and interacting with people."
Simonsen says that as the level of complexity in the typical contact centre grows, so too will the career and development options it offers.
"The findings in this study show an absolute opportunity to reinvent the agent and for the industry to start offering a role that’s so attractive to the country’s best and brightest that it makes them want to really stick around."
Linda Simonsen is both an entrepreneur and speaker, addressing a range of topics including employee engagement and its link to the bottom line, emotional intelligence and its link to high performance leadership and why the contact centre is every organisation’s deepest talent pool.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, August 5, 2013