Contact centres in the UK

An Expert's View about Business Administration in the United Kingdom

Posted on: 25 Aug 2010

This fact sheet summarises key aspects of the contact centre industry in the UK.

CONTACT CENTRES This information sheet summarises the contact centre industry in the UK. The factors covered are: 1. Definition of a contact centre 2. Overview of the UK contact centre industry 3. Key strengths of the UK contact centre offer 4. Further information 1. DEFINITION OF A CONTACT CENTRE A contact centre is a business unit with responsibility for communicating directly with customers, either proactively to initiate sales, or reactively in order to respond to specific needs or enquiries. Contact centres are used extensively across both the private and public sectors. 2. OVERVIEW OF THE UK CONTACT CENTRE INDUSTRY The UK is one of the premier locations in the world for contact centres. In 2008 there were over 5,000 contact centres across the UK, employing almost one million people (Source: ContactBabel, 2009). As detailed in Figure 1, average salaries in the contact centre industry vary by region. Figure 1: Gross annual pay for customer service advisers by region Average gross Region annual pay (£) Yorkshire 13,335 South West 13,377 West Midlands 13,493 Wales 13,714 East Midlands 13,797 North West 13,927 UK average 14,157 Eastern 14,399 Scotland 14,452 South East 14,563 North East 14,674 London 15,959 Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2008 Detailed information on all aspects of the UK contact centre sector can be found at: www.cca.org.uk/cca/content/research/Top_20_Facts_about_Contact_Centres.a sp?ContentID=023&BackTo=0 3. KEY STRENGTHS OF THE UK CONTACT CENTRE OFFER For businesses that are considering the optimal location for their contact centre, the UK has a number of strategic and commercial benefits including: a) Europe?s largest contact centre industry and the best track record in Europe for attracting international contact centres The UK is Europe?s leading location for inward investors (Source: UNCTAD, 2008). The country has a strong track record in supporting service sector projects, with particular expertise in meeting the specific requirements of national and international contact centres. The UK has a strong contact centre support infrastructure, including a skilled workforce with extensive experience of working in the contact centre industry, underpinned by a wide range of leading-edge technical experts such as developers of specialist contact centre hardware and software solutions. The Customer Contact Association (CCA), the professional body for customer contact centres (www.cca.org.uk/), provides a best practice quality framework, including a series of professional contact centre standards. The framework is being used by leading operators of contact centres in the UK including National Australia Group, HSBC, BBC, BT, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Vodafone and Bank of America. b) One of the strongest telecommunications and ICT infrastructures in the world Independent surveys regularly rate the UK as having one of the strongest ICT infrastructures globally. For example, the UK was recently ranked ahead of other European countries such as Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Belgium in a global ?e-readiness? index (Source: EIU, 2009). A key feature of the UK?s telecommunications sector is that, due to deregulation, contact centre operators have a wide choice of providers of telephony and internet services. For further information please see: www.ofcom.org.uk c) Flexible working practices and labour regulations The UK has one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe with labour regulations designed both to protect the employee and to ensure companies can operate effectively. Contact centre operators are able to utilise the UK?s labour flexibility by operating shift patterns to meet the specific needs of the contact centre (such as part-time working, evening or night-time working, weekend working and home working). Further information on flexible working and labour regulations in the UK is also available in the UK Trade & Investment information sheet entitled ?Labour Environment? and at: www.berr.gov.uk/employment/employment-legislation/employment- guidance/index.html d) Competitive salary and employer costs The UK has a highly competitive salary structure in the service sector, in contrast with many other European countries including Germany, Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland (Source: UBS, Prices and Earnings, 2008). In addition, employers pay one of the lowest social security contributions in Europe. For further information please see: www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/nic.htm e) World-class contact centre skills and experience The UK has a strong infrastructure to support the ongoing development of skills in the contact centre industry, including: ? ?e-skills?, a UK ?Sector Skills Council? that supports recruitment and training in contact centres. e-skills has developed the ?UK Contact Centre Career and Skills Framework? which is designed to enable contact centres to manage and develop the skills of their workforce. For further information please see: www.e-skills.com/ ? The CCA provides a skills accreditation scheme in partnership with Nottingham Trent University. There are three levels of accreditation (contact centre advisers/representatives, team leaders/managers and middle/senior managers). The qualifications range from Professional Certificates to Diplomas through to Masters degrees. For further information please see: www.cca.org.uk The UK also has a strong supply of language skills, with 38 per cent of the UK population being able to speak a language other than their mother tongue (Source: European Commission, Standard Eurobarometer, 2006). 4. FURTHER INFORMATION This information sheet was updated in July 2009. As information changes from time to time, please contact the organisations listed or UK Trade & Investment to confirm any item that you intend to rely on. This information sheet was produced by the Marketing Group of: UK Trade & Investment 9th Floor Kingsgate House 66-74 Victoria Street London SW1E 6SW Tel: +44 (0)20 7215 4957 Email: enquiries@uktradeinvest.gov.uk Website: www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk
Posted: 25 August 2010

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