The number of multi-channel contact centres will treble in the UK over the next four years, providing a huge opportunity for resellers to cash in on the market.
According to analyst firm Datamonitor, the high penetration of internet, mobile telephony, email, instant messaging and SMS technologies will lead to multi-channel contact centres trebling to 1,842. The biggest growth will come from the public and healthcare sectors looking to achieve e-government targets.
Datamonitor's Vertical guide to call centres in Europe, the Middle East and Africa report claimed a shift towards smaller, multi-channel contact centres will provide greater sales opportunities for vendors and resellers of CRM and voice and data networks.
Small contact centres with 10 to 30 call agents will be the fastest-growing segment, with local authorities fuelling most of the expansion as they look to roll out telephone-based information and payment services.
"We are seeing a huge growth in this market, driven by e-government and the Freedom of Information Act," said Steve Feeney, sales and marketing director at customer management technology vendor FrontRange.
"Channel partners will be very effective for developing consultancy and providing greater benefit into this space."
But Feeney criticised many call centre vendors for neglecting the growing SME community that is adopting these technologies. "Most have provided a cut-down model of their enterprise solutions that come with all the baggage," he said.
David du Toit, solutions director at call centre integrator Datapoint, said voice over IP would be the biggest enabler for multi-channel contact centres. "There needs to be more education from resellers to build confidence in the technology," he said.
Datamonitor estimated the call centre market will create 62,000 new jobs in the UK in the next four years, with the proportion of the population employed in call centres rising from 2.3 per cent in 2003 to three per cent by 2008.
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