There is much talk about near-shoring and offshoring, but for some organisations, Australia is home. Matchboard recently interviewed a variety of organisations operating a contact centre in regional Australia to learn about the pros and cons of a regional versus capital city location strategy.
The most widely cited benefit of a regional contact centre is single digit attrition, versus double digit elsewhere. Low employee turnover translates to a reduction in recruiting and training cost, typically more than $10,000 per employee. Further, contact centre managers have more time to spend on researching and adopting best practice and innovations, as they are less caught up in the headache of finding and onboarding replacement staff.
A second benefit of regional centres is the workforce itself – typically more engaged, more community-oriented, and more loyal than their big city counterparts. Research has shown that engaged employees are more likely to deliver a positive customer experience, flowing through to better customer retention and satisfaction scores. A regional workforce is on average older by several years (in the 40s rather than 30s), and unlikely to be skewed to Gen Y and Z workers. Managers cite the age factor as the reason for high schedule adherence and stability. Some argue that the older demographic has greater “life experience” which means they are able to relate to customers more readily when servicing or selling financial products, for example, home loans, and health services, amongst other things.
Thirdly, facilities costs are much lower in regional locations. And finally, many local and state government bodies offer financial subsidies and other incentives to make regional investment an even more attractive proposition. All in all, savings of at least 15% can be expected from a regional move.
If you’re setting up a regional call centre, it often means that you become a major employment contributor to that community. If you then decide to exit, it can cause quite a backlash, so be prepared for PR fallout and brand damage if you can only plan for the short term.
If you’re evaluating the regional option, it’s also important to match the skillset of the workforce in the catchment area against your requirements. For example, it would be challenging to operate a large outbound telesales, multilingual, or technical support program in a city with less than 25,000 inhabitants, simply because the experience and skills are not in enough abundance. However this may not apply in larger “Tier 2 cities” with populations of 100,000+.
There is no one-size fits all when it comes to the perfect location, and each business must make its own evaluation against a carefully thought out set of criteria.