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Wednesday, 24 August 2011 16:19

Opportunities abound for CRM, but enhancements needed


CRM outsourcers need to enhance their offerings to be able to take full advantage of the potential business opportunities in the retail sector, as forecasts predict an increase of 30 percent in the number of contact centre agents servicing the industry by 2016.


According to analysts' Ovum, the retail sector does represent a massive future growth opportunity for Customer Relationship Management (CRM)) outsourcers in the Asia-Pacific region, but the firm says that to be able to take advantage of the potential the retail market offers them, CRM outsourcers must first enhance their offering.

Ovum claims that CRM outsourcers will need to look beyond their standard service to make their mark in the sector, and the firm's lead analyst and author of the report, Peter Ryan, says that in order to take advantage of the opportunities in retail, vendors will have to take a more 'forward-looking approach than simply cheap agents on telephones.'

'Rather, the retailer of the future will need to partner with an outsourcer that can provide enhanced standards of support at the agent level channels.'

Ryan stresses that the retail sector is undergoing significant change globally due to both poor economic conditions and shifts in how consumers purchase products, and he says this is having a significant impact on how end users interact with retail operators, 'many of which are under considerable pressure to keep costs at a minimum, while at the same time maximising revenue opportunities and customer service.'

In Australia, Ryan observes that the ANZ bank analyses point to a relatively sluggish remainder of 2011 and 2012, with economic growth relatively sluggish.

'Should this occur, there is significant likelihood that consumers' disposable income will remain tight or evaporate altogether, thus having a tough impact on retailers profitability,, meaning that there will be pressure to cut overheads in order to maintain margins.'

According to Ovum's figures, the Asia-Pacific market size for outsourced contact centre agent positions in the retail sector will grow from 478k positions in 2011, to 681k in 2016, an increase of almost 30 percent for the period.

Ovum also says that Australia proved to be the most sluggish in comparison to China, the Philippines and India within the AP region, with a CAGR of only 3.8 percent over the five years. China, being the growth engine globally, shows a CAGR of 12.9 percent, and Ovum says that the Philippines is not very far from China, showing a CAGR of 11.2 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Peter Ryan advises that the enhanced services CRM outsourcers adopt in order to win business should focus on areas in which their services are better equipped than any in-house solution to drive retailers' businesses forward.

'One example is to provide additional services to existing retail clients that will allow them to target their end users with add-on products that enable the retailer to boost revenues and reduce costs in the contact centre.

'To execute this effectively, outsourcers must stress their expertise in this domain, as well as capabilities in using analytics tools to properly target tactical opportunities. This is likely to resonate strongly with retailers that have been struggling with budget issues leading to an inability to invest in the right agent training and application acquisition.'


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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