Ok. Here’s my bid for a Nobel. One of the macro questions for the customer contact industry is: “Does a robust customer contact industry correlate with higher economic growth?”
The implications of this question are enormous. If such a relationship can be shown to exist, then governments that want to foster economic growth should actively encourage the growth of the customer contact industry within their borders.
As we grow our database of contact center performance metrics here at BenchmarkPortal, we look forward to the day that we will have enough data to prove a correlation between the state of the contact center industry and GDP growth in countries throughout the world. However, there are already circumstantial indications that this relationship exists, and governments would do well to consider their policies even now.
I note as well that contact centers represent clean, non-polluting operations that involve “knowledge worker” skills at a variety of levels. Contact centers are often the first point of entry for workers who later are promoted into other parts of the enterprise - - but hopefully retain their appreciation for customer service and bring their experience with them as they advance professionally.
Estimates regarding the number of people who work in contact centers in advanced economies is astounding. It was estimated that about 3% of the working population in the United Kingdom is employed in contact centers, while the estimated percentage is over 3% in the United States and Canada. These economies have been among the most resilient over the last 20 years, while advanced, G7 economies like Japan and Italy, which have much less robust customer contact sectors, have languished.
My hypothesis is that consumers the world over are more likely to trust and buy a product or service when:
- They can get information on a product or service from a human being
- They can get good, friendly customer service on the product via telephone or electronic means
- They are informed of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities by a contact center agent who has earned their trust during the course of an interaction, whether voice or electronic.
It is already recognized that superior customer service is a competitive advantage for companies competing in the market. It would be no surprise that superior customer service is a competitive advantage for countries seeking to grow economically.
As governments around the world consider their next moves in industrial policy, the encouragement of customer contact centers through training, certification and best practices should be high on their list. Today’s hosted technologies mean that world-class operations can be launched with modest investment. Best practices can be adopted and adapted to local conditions. Both domestic demand and international exports can be fostered by having a strong call-center based sales and service capability.
Some governments (local and national) see call centers a simply a way of creating a bit of domestic employment for young people. It is much more than that. It is a pump that, once primed, will have important collateral benefits for the economy for decades to come, helping to moderate downturns and turbo-charge growth spurts. Indeed, governments should expect important multiplier effects from their incentives in this sector.
We, as contact center managers, can have the same positive impact on our enterprises by informing ourselves and improving our centers with best practices training, processes and technologies.