Call centres must offer staff "creature comforts" and better buildings if they want them to stay, says a new report.
Sydney-based ACA Research has researched the Kiwi and Australian call centres and says such workers are scarce and more must be done to curb expensive staff turnover.
Furthermore, the explosive growth of e-commerce and the Internet will make call centre staff even more important as agents handle electronic transactions as well as traditional phone calls.
"Issues such as acoustics and engineering infrastructure have previously been the poor cousin to high-profile technology costs. This research explains how the supporting framework of a call centre needs to be flexible and robust to support the ever changing and dynamic environment," says CEO Martin Conboy.
Call centres, he says, now need to balance highly-complex data and telecommunications infrastructure with the required creature comforts that help reduce fatigue and increase staff productivity.
"Staff turnover is now costing the New Zealand industry $36 million a year. Anything that helps to retain staff will immediately be reflected on the bottom line.
"With skilled call centre staff now at a premium, companies must look for ways to retain scarce and valued employees by providing a better environment.
"If you can keep 10 staff in your call centre for an extra year, you will have found more than $120,000 to spend on incentives for other staff to stay," Conboy says.
The survey also reveals the call centre industry in New Zealand employs 20,000 people, is one of the fastest growing in the Asia-Pacific, and is worth $2 billion to the local economy.
It says the call centre industry here spends at least $75 million a year on capital equipment.
The report and related issues will be raised at a meeting of Kiwi call centre chiefs at a Trade New Zealand Executive Briefing in Auckland on June 29. The chiefs will also present a CRM update at the briefing.