It’s not always just customers. Many organisations such as NHS Direct, use contact centres to respond to queries from members of the public. The emergency services use contact centres, for example.
Sometimes companies or organisations do not operate contact centres themselves and make use of ‘outsourcing’ – this is when a third-party company operates a large contact centre to respond to queries from a number of different other companies.
Some contact centres do not receive calls or queries, but make them. They may contact potential customers to tell them about products and services. Alternatively, they may be contacting existing customers to inform them of new offers or upgrades and so on. These are called ‘outbound’ centres. Many centres handle both inbound and outbound communication.
Contact centres used to have the more widely known name ‘call centres’, still sometimes used. However, the idea has move with the times – these days, those call centres have moved on to handling web communication as well as just calls. As a result, contact centre is a better description of what they do.
It’s big business. There are over 200 contact centres in Wales alone, providing work for some 30,000 people. Between them, these centres generate more than £650m a year for the Welsh economy. Many of the UK’s biggest name companies and organisations use them.
The Welsh Contact Centre Forum is an organisation that helps keep these different centres in touch, providing opportunites for networking, and the discussion of new ideas and the latest on the best way to do things. The Forum has at present, 170 contact centres as members and counting.