Call centres: no VoIP for us, please

Despite recent excitement in the domestic market over voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a survey has revealed that less than 2 percent of Australia's call centre managers have the technology on their shopping list.In recent months the Australian market has seen the release of several new players in the VoIP space and analyst predictions to the effect that 2005 will be the year that VoIP takes off in a big way.

Despite recent excitement in the domestic market over voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a survey has revealed that less than 2 percent of Australia's call centre managers have the technology on their shopping list.

In recent months the Australian market has seen the release of several new players in the VoIP space and analyst predictions to the effect that 2005 will be the year that VoIP takes off in a big way. There has even been a public discussion paper released by the Australian Communication Authority on regulation of the potentially disruptive new technology, and various public responses from telecommunications providers.

However research released today said that some of the parties who are making and receiving huge numbers of phone calls in Australia are just not interested in VoIP. A study commissioned by contact centre software provider Concerto and conducted by research firm ACA Research today showed that those in charge of contact centres were still only tentatively appraising the technology.

The survey contacted 100 Australian call centre managers in centres with a minimum of 50 seats. The managers came from a broad range of industry segments and took part in the research in January and February of this year.

Of those 100, only 2 percent listed VoIP technology as being next on their shopping lists for their call centres, and only 6 percent said that VoIP was the technology that had made the most impact on improving productivity in their call centre over the past 12 months.

In contrast to the lack of interest in VoIP technology, 9 percent of respondents said they would soon be purchasing speech recognition software for their call centres, although only 1 percent said speech recognition technology had had the most impact on productivity in their contact centre in the past 12 months.

Managers also placed customer relationship management software, interactive voice response systems (IVRs) and workforce management software over VoIP on their shopping list of must-have technologies. And they may not even be that interested in the benefits that new technologies could bring, with the survey stating that "Overall, contact centre executives are somewhat confident that they have the technology required to provide effective service."

"Call centres are carefully evaluating the business benefits that will drive investment in VoIP and converged technologies," said Concerto Australia and New Zealand general manager Gerry Tucker.

Tucker also said that his company definitely sees VoIP technology as having a huge impact on business in the future, but it was not taking off at the moment. "The VoIP debate has moved on to more practical questions [than cost]," he said. "For example, "how can I increase my business efficiency?"".

ACA's research into contact centres in Australia will also be used more generally to establish the Concerto Contact Centre Index, which the two organisations claim will be "an independent quarterly index of business and technology trends in the Australian contact centre industry."