South Africa’s call centre industry is growing at a steady rate of approximately 8% per annum and employs about 54 000 call centre agents. Accompanying this growth is a vast opportunity for operators and technology service providers alike, whereby a dynamic nature in call centre trends exists.
Today, a strong emerging trend within the call centre environment is the move towards mobile ‚ all things mobile – mobile applications, mobile internet and the subsequently mobile broadband.
‚Call centers can no longer rely on the traditional forms of customer communication and interaction,‚ says Avesh Singh, MD at Virtual Contact Centre ‚ a division of the Digital Solutions Group. ‚Today, the landscape is moving away from the traditional PC or telephony based contact towards a strong uptake of mobile application development and mobile internet ‚ in back-office processing – as a means to communicate and provide feedback.‚
‚While I realise that the mobile phone may never be a full replacement for the desktop, the range of applications in use has grown and today people are ‚willing’ to do more business through their mobile device,‚ adds Singh. ‚This basic evolution in attitude has completely changed strategic planning and product roadmaps for organisation’s – in fact CCS Insight predicted that by the end of 2009 44% of mobile users were accessing data via their handsets.‚
This simple fact indicates that the opportunity for Call Centres locally to reach customers via targeted messaging and interactive mobile applications is becoming mandatory. ‚Today, for call centres to remain competitive, they need to embrace new technology platforms and examines ways in which to connect with customers via their preferred medium ‚ as this will help drive market messaging stronger through a channel that is convenient and easy for their base to use,‚ continues Singh. ‚Furthermore, this drive is not merely customer orientated, but has a strong business rational. With the correct business process outsourcing in terms of both mobile applications as well as the more traditional voice, DSG has found that organisations that work with us have been able to generate higher margins internally of approximately 25% upwards. As a result, it is obvious that a simple call or email to a customer is no longer an acceptable means of communication but rather needs to be aligned to an interactive, focused communication, with rich content.‚
As customers become more conducive to mobile applications ‚ where these are accessible at any time ‚ businesses need to carefully consider the formulation of contact centre set-up and the related communication strategies. ‚Part of this strategy may be the examination of partnering with those businesses that are strong in developing mobile applications that can realistically link the brand to the customer in a ‚simple‚ but effective way.‚
‚With the number of mobile application downloads expected to approach almost 20 billion per year by 2014 (according to Juniper Research), it should no longer a debate but rather a necessity that businesses consider the possibilities and opportunities that mobile, can and will, present, the call center environment locally.‚ concludes Singh.