High staff churn hits UK call centres

But offshoring not having "major impact" on the industry overall
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

But offshoring not having "major impact" on the industry overall

The UK call centre industry is struggling to cope with high staff churn as attrition rates rise for a fourth consecutive year to a high of 23 per cent, according to a new report by analyst ContactBabel.

The 2006 UK Contact Centre Operational Review survey of 200 UK call centre directors and managers found that almost half (43 per cent) now have a problem with staff attrition. The problem is worst for large call centres with 250 or more agent seats.

Steve Morrell, principal analyst at ContactBabel and author of the report, told silicon.com: "Staff attrition four years ago was about 15 per cent. The most concerning thing about this is that once you go north of 20 per cent that's when problems arise."

But he said that despite attrition problems the future of the UK call centre industry is "broadly positive".

Morrell said: "There is still a strategic determination to increase headcount across the industry and call centre agent numbers are rising at four to five per cent a year, so offshoring is not having a major impact on the UK call centre industry as a whole."

The average starting salary of a UK call centre worker has also risen to a new high of £14,092, although this increase is only at the level of inflation. The average salary of a more experienced agent with at least 12 months experience is around 20 per cent higher.

Morrell said UK call centres will increasingly offshore or automate the lower-end work but that this will mean the staff can focus on higher value services.

He said: "The contact centre of the future will be more on the sales side, high value-add customer service and technical stuff. And obviously the salaries have to increase accordingly."

The report predicts average agent salaries will increase sharply over the next few years - by around eight or nine per cent - with growth figures well in excess of the rate of inflation.

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