The UK is the largest and most mature call centre market in Europe, according to a report just published by Datamonitor which estimates that 3 per cent of Britain's working population will be employed by call centres within 5 years.
That's more than any other EU country and well above the EU average of 1 per cent. Moreover that figure is set to rise to almost 3 per cent by 2007. There is also expected to be a significant growth in public sector call centre activity in the UK over the next five years.
By 2007, there will be 470,00 agent positions (APs) in the UK, compared to nearly 384,000 APs today. By 2007, this will have risen to 470,000 - an average annual increase of 4.4% every year between 2001-2007 by which time the UK will have 6,900 call centres. By comparison, Germany the EUs second largest market, will have 5,500 call centres with 300,000 APs, whilst France, the third largest market will have 5,600 call centres and 230,000 APs.
"Despite some high profile call cenrer closures and the end of the boom times of late 90s, call centres remain a growing market in the UK," said Robin Goad, managing analyst at Datamonitor. "Customers are contacting companies more and more (and visa versa), and the call centreremains at the heart of customer contact."
Consolidation at the high end of the market means that the average size of call centres in the UK will increase, the opposite of the trend across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), where the average size is shrinking. In the UK, the average call centre currently contains 67 APs, which will have grown to 69 by 2007.
Across EMEA, the number of call centres is growing faster than APs. According to Datamonitor, there are currently 25,000 call centres and 1.3 million APs. By 2007 there will be 12,000 additional call centres, bringing the total number to 37,000 and a total of 1.8 million APs. The average size of a call center in EMEA is currently just over 50 APs. By 2007, this will have decreased to 48.
Call centres containing between 10-30 APs are the fastest-growing size-band in the UK and EMEA Just 3.3 per cent of call centres in EMEA contain more than 250 APs; the vast majority contain less than 100. The fastest-growing call centre size-band in EMEA is the 10 - 30 APs size-band, and they account for 47 per cent of all EMEA call centres. By 2007 this will have grown to 56 per cent. This trend is repeated in the UK, where 44 per cent of call centres will contain between 10 - 30 APs by 2007.