As the price of foreign operations increases and rents in the region drop, contact centres are flooding in to the north of England, in a movement being described as ‘northshoring’. The region currently plays host to 700 contact centres, up from 521 in 2004, employing around six per cent of the region’s workforce. This trend, says Datapoint, is a positive step forward in the repositioning of the contact centre from the periphery to the centre of business operations.
Jim Close, Managing Director at Datapoint, commented: “The framework of old in which contact centres operated at arms length from the organisation is losing relevance. As the first point of contact in customer interaction they need to be integrated in the business alongside marketing and sales departments. In doing so, organisations have an opportunity to develop highly skilled and knowledgeable agents that are fully empowered to assist customers and better serve the needs of the business.
“The success, or failure, of a contact centre hinges upon its ability to service and understand its customers properly so the repatriation of operations on home turf is a positive step forward in terms of customer relations and satisfaction, as well as for the economy in general. Although these operations may be more expensive in the short-term, from a customer point of view, being able to speak to a local agent is psychologically invaluable.”
Close also pointed to the growing economic advantages of operating a contact centre in the UK: “As the costs of foreign operations have slowly increased, owing to financial fluctuations and increasing wages, these options are becoming less attractive. This, coupled with the high rates of staff attrition typical of contact centres overseas means that, all thing being considered, it is now cheaper and easier to keep customers happy by being in the UK,” he concluded.