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Tue 18 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Local service disappoints

Less than 1% of customers receive excellent service. While such figures should raise alarm bells, they will provide encouragement for contact centre vendors.

Less than 1% of customers in the Middle East receive excellent service, according to a recent spot poll conducted on ITP.net. More alarmingly, a massive 88.95% of people experience average or below average service and only 11% get good treatment when interacting with companies.

While such figures should raise alarm bells for those companies in the Middle East that have already invested heavily in their customer facing staff, they will provide encouragement for the growing number of vendors touting contact centre solutions in the region.

Within the past few months alone, vendors such as The TeleServices Company (TSC) have ramped up their local activities and market stalwarts such as HP, Cisco and Altitude Software have joined forces to launch a financial sector specific package called Bank in a Box.

In fact, the Middle East’s finance sector is a veritable hotbed of service improving initiatives at the moment, as customer contact centres appear on a weekly basis.

Earlier in the year both Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) unveiled call centres, while Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) is rumoured to be going live with its offering before the summer.

Another bank looking to tap into the contact centre market is Emirates Bank Group (EBG), which has spun its own service entity off into a standalone company called Buzz Contact Centre Solutions. The outsourced service provider is aiming for six million calls this year and believes its success within EBG will stand it in good stead.

“Buzz is specialized in making sure that banks and financial institutions do not become overburdened with customer relationship and client acquisition costs,” says Abdullah Qasim chief manager at Buzz.

“We have taken what used to be viewed by business managers as a ‘cost centre’ and revamped the operations and structure of the ‘call centre’ to make it into a revenue generating business function,” he adds.

This desire to turn cost centres into profit centres is a prevailing theme for any vendor touting either contact centre solutions or outsourced offerings.

While easy to doubt vendor hype, evidence from the Society for Consumer Affairs (SOCAP) appears to give the revenue centre pitch weight as it suggests customers calling into centres are more likely to do repeat business by more than 18%.

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