The European market for call centres looks set to explode in the next few years, as telecomms prices continue to spiral downwards and technology improves.
According to a report from researchers Yankee Group Europe - entitled 'The European call center market: from volume to value' - Europe is expected to match the US' 1996 spend of $190 billion by the end of the century. Europe currently spends only about 11 per cent of that figure - about $22 billion - but this amount is growing at 30 per cent per year.
Pan-European call centres accounted for around 15 per cent of the total number of call centre seats in 1996, or about 50,000 seats in Europe. Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK have the largest installed base within Europe, with the Netherlands and Ireland experiencing the fastest growth.
However, pan-European call centres will face challenges of high cross-border telecomms costs, technical and legal incompatibilities, and cultural and linguistic issues.
The report also discusses 'virtual call centres', which would support agents who are located anywhere - on different company sites or even at home. The scripts from which they work would appear as the calls are identified and linked to the database, and could vary for inbound or outbound calls. Virtual call centres could be available over the next two years from telcos including BT, PTT Telecom Netherlands and Telecomm Eireann.
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