The Call Centre Industry Advisory Council, the awarding body for certification of the profession in the US, has launched two qualifications designed to improve the standard of call centre staff.
Its certifications have now been endorsed by trade body the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) and will be available in the UK later this year.
The certifications have been devised by skills assessment specialist Drake International, which will be responsible for administering the tests and maintaining standards. The CCMA has 400 individual members across the UK.
Explaining that the objective was to develop an industry standard, Drake learning solutions director Julia Jones said: "Companies have real problems with staff retention and there's not been any benchmark to recruit people.
"If you have a professional call centre manager with the right skill sets you can create a fantastic environment. There are ways to make the job more interesting.
"This is about demonstrating standards and abilities measuring people on the job, not just about taking tests."
Meanwhile, an apprenticeship programme to address staffing, training and skills issues across the call centre industry has been launched by the e-skills National Training Organisation (NTO).
The Modern Apprenticeship in Call Handling will combine practical experience with training to develop call centre agents' skills in communications, IT and numeracy.
E-skills NTO said that the scheme will address the increasing complexity of call centre roles, the growing demand for highly developed customer service skills, and IT skills driven by the convergence of new technologies, including email and the internet.
Derek Anderson, business manager at outsourced call centre company Vertex, explained that the apprenticeship would allow employees to recognise the significance of their role within the organisation.
"[A company] benefits from a more motivated workforce which, through its heightened understanding, delivers greater productivity and excellence in customer service," he said.
Modern Apprenticeships typically take one to two years to complete. Government support varies from £2,000 to £5,000 per apprentice in accordance with the eligibility of the apprentice and their employer.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive highlighted unacceptably stressful working conditions in call centres and a shortfall in appropriate training.
One in 10 call centre employers report staff attrition rates of 49 per cent or more.
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