Our series of posts devoted to contact centres have looked at the niche from many angles. We’ve considered the workers who are vital to contact centres and how their roles are changing. We’ve looked at tech in contact centres and how developments in that area are reshaping the field.
Most of the ground we’ve covered so far applies to all centres. That’s both those run by single brands and outsourced contact centres that serve many firms. In this post, we’re going to focus almost exclusively on the latter.
In the same way as any other business, contact centres want to grow. That makes sales and marketing a critical element of their operations. How likely, then, is sustainable growth for contact centres in the coming years? What’s more, what do centres do to attract new clients and business? They’re the questions you’ll find the answers to if you read on.
The Contact Centre Market
The contact centre market is one that has experienced consistent growth. Since the first call centres began in the 1950s, the sector has been a reliably successful one. Even after the recent global financial crisis, growth in the area sustained when many fields struggled. That trend was true of the worldwide market and of that in the UK.
Looking at the UK, a significant industry report in 2014 shared some fascinating insights. At that time, the sector in this country was worth £2.2 billion in revenue. That followed a five-year period in which average market growth stood at 2.5%. That’s the half-decade immediately after the economic struggles that began in 2008. Such growth, then, suggests a resilient and robust sector.
That report also showed that in 2014 80% of contact centres were in-house operations. That meant that centres were often run by brands for the direct benefit of their customers. In the five years since, outsourced contact centres have gained a much higher market share. That’s a trend shown by the global market statistics.
Source: Everest Group
Research by the Everest Group in 2017, placed a value of $81-83 billion on the contact centre outsourcing (CCO) market. It also predicted growth of around 4.5% over the following two years. Further stats from Adroit Market Research in 2018 suggest that those predictions were on the conservative side. Their report found the market to have already reached a revenue value of $88.62 billion.
It’s not merely the CCO market that’s showing sustained growth, either. In recent years, sectors supplying the tech to contact centres have also been expanding. The conversational AI market, for instance, generated $3.2 billion in 2018. That sector’s predicted to grow at an astonishing rate to reach a value of $15 billion by 2024.
Such impressive statistics suggest that the contact centre niche is in rude health. To find out whether that’s reflected at the coalface, we asked some industry experts. Cymphony, FM Outsource, and Poly AI are all in or around the contact centre niche. We asked representatives of the firms if they expected to grow this year. We also enquired about what sales and marketing plans they had. Their answers provide some illuminating indicators of the sector as a whole.
How Are Companies in the Niche Seeking to Grow?
Cymphony provides a telephone answering service for small businesses. 92% of the firm’s revenue comes from voice calls, but it also uses messaging and live chat channels. The company was established in the year 2000. It’s the second largest in its space, in terms of revenue and workforce. That’s as per the marketing manager, David Rolfe, who was kind enough to speak to us.
When we asked David about Cymphony’s plans, he was bullish. He told us that the business has “aggressive growth targets”. Those targets focus on developing the firm’s presence in channels other than voice. David explained that the company had ‘put quite a lot of investment in to try and achieve growth’ in those areas. The biggest concern is to develop live chat and messaging apps further. That lines up precisely with prevailing industry-wide trends:
Source: Call Centre Helper
Cymphony’s primary marketing channel to increase industry presence is online search. David revealed that the firm uses Google and Bing ads, as well as SEO for organic traffic. The company also gets good results from direct mail marketing. That suggests that traditional marketing methods still have their place. That’s even in an increasingly tech-focussed niche.
FM Outsource, agreed with the importance of digital marketing. Their representative, Jack, told us that content marketing and paid digital channels were both vital to the firm’s plans for growth. They also made a point of highlighting organic search via SEO as the most crucial avenue.
As well as those efforts, Jack Barmby – and marketing assistant Charlotte Flanagan – also flagged up the importance of inbound. They explained that FM Outsource gains significant new business from referrals. All marketing exploits at the firm are part – in common with Cymphony – of a robust plan for growth.
Jack stated that he ‘100% expects’ the business to grow, having ‘consolidated’ for the past two years. To support their marketing efforts, FM Outsource also plans to seek external funding. That will be the first time that the firm has looked to further finance beyond its initial seed funding. That’s to support a plan with expansion overseas – particularly into the USA – at its heart.
Poly AI is a company comprised primarily of technologists. That’s how founder, Nikola Mrksic, described his business. When we spoke to him of the future and his firm’s plans for growth, he was upbeat and confident:
‘There’s never been more appetite for automated customer service than there is today.’
To satisfy that appetite, Poly AI always builds ‘more complex and nuanced algorithms’. In the next few years, Nikola is managing two new enterprise-scale deployments of his business’s tech. He hopes that by 2025, the firm will serve 10-20 enterprises with its solutions.
Our case studies support the broader picture of the contact centre niche. It’s by no means an industry under threat from technology. Instead, it’s a sector enjoying consistent and continual growth. There are significant opportunities for contact centres and the firms that serve them. Those companies are exploring many avenues for growth. By doing so, they’re helping to propel the market to even greater success.
Sales & Marketing in a Service-Focussed Field
The contact centre niche is predominantly associated with customer service. Centres exist to serve customers. Either those of their own parent company or of the clients with whom they work. Businesses that operate contact centres want to grow and develop like any other. That makes sales and marketing essential aspects of their day-to-day activities.
Through talking to pros in the contact centre field, we learnt a lot about growing firms in the niche. Existing in a robust and expanding market, businesses have lots of opportunities to develop. The trio of companies we spoke to intend to grasp those opportunities fully.
All our industry insiders shared exciting plans for growth in the coming years. Cymphony and FM Outsource are two out-and-out contact centre operators. They agreed that digital marketing was essential to enhancing company presence. They also shared several other channels that have helped them gain more business.
Poly AI is one of the firms responsible for the tech explosion in the contact centre field. The cutting-edge solutions the company develops are precisely what contact centres are looking for. By feeding industry demand for more sophisticated automation and AI, Poly AI also plans to expand.
Originally published May 26, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023