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Sedgefield, Co Durham, United Kingdom, 2009/12/03 - 2009 has seen a significant drop in employment within the US contact center industry, which employs around 3.6% of the nation's working population. This year, headcount has declined by 3.9%, equating to a net loss of just over 200,000 jobs.
New research published today by ContactBabel, the contact center industry analysts, reveals that there has been a significant drop in employment within the US contact center industry, which employs around 3.6% of the nation's working population. In 2009, headcount declined by 3.9%, equating to a net loss of just over 200,000 jobs.
"The US Contact Center Decision-Makers' Guide" is a major study of over 200 US contact center operations, sponsored by Cosmocom, inContact and Syntellect.
Research for the report has found that after years of steady increase in headcount and investment, the economic downturn has stopped a great deal of the investment required by contact centers from actually being made, leading to a further negative effect on jobs.
This year, both Opex and Capex budgets have been cut, with 43% of respondents decreasing their Opex and 39% their Capex. Few have been able to increase their budgets by anything more than a small amount, and the tightening of Opex has meant that there has been a significant decrease in headcount as well.
The Manufacturing, Finance, Insurance, Retail and Healthcare sectors were all hit harder than average, with more than half of respondents from these sectors experiencing a drop in headcount. However, the majority of Services and Technology/Media/Telecoms (TMT) contact center respondents posted headcount increases.
The next 12 months is expected to see a large rebound in agent figures, with respondents to the survey stating an average expected headcount growth rate of 5.7%, equating to a net gain of 290,000 jobs US-wide. Public Sector and Insurance respondents are least bullish, but the Services, TMT and Outsourcing sectors all expect significant increases in headcount.
The report's author, Steve Morrell, commented:
"The US contact center industry has run into a brick wall in the past 12 months, with investment plans being revisited and in many cases, mothballed until the economic climate has picked up. Even investments which had already been given a green light have often had to prove their worth again, with their potential for immediate cost-cutting being key to being given the go-ahead.
"However, in some ways, the contact center industry as a whole has been spared the worst of what has gone on in many businesses. Wholesale redundancies in customer service would have an immediate and negative effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty, with revenues decreasing accordingly. Although there has been a decline in headcount, many businesses have generally focused their cost-cutting on areas which are not immediately noticeable, such as training or the replacement of IT systems, although this approach stores up problems for the future.
"The general feeling, even in the contact centers that have decreased headcount, is that 2010 is expected to see a return to growth, certainly in headcount and, more tentatively, in IT investment as well."
About ContactBabel and "The US Contact Center Decision-Maker's Guide - 2009-2010"
The "US Contact Center Decision-Makers' Guide (2009/2010 - 3rd edition)" is the major annual report studying the performance, operations, technology and HR aspects of US contact center operations.
Taking a random sample of the industry, a detailed structured questionnaire was asked to 212 contact center managers and directors between April and August 2009. Analysis of the results was carried out August to November 2009.
The result is the 3rd edition of the largest and most comprehensive study of all aspects of the US contact center industry.
A free copy of the entire 250-page report is available from the ContactBabel.com/.