The last 12 months has been a good time for contact centers in the Asia-Pacific region, as new research has shown strong growth, with the number of seats increasing by 8.4 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year.

Data from Frost & Sullivan’s Assessment of Asia-Pacific Contact Centers Markets CY 2012 study found the market had over 3.7 million agents employed in 2012. This boom is also set to continue for the foreseeable future, as over six million individuals are expected to be employed in this sector by 2019.

There are several key reasons for this, the research noted. As well as continuing to experience strong growth from the global contact center offshoring industry, the region is set to benefit from increasing demand from domestic markets. In particular, telecommunications, banking and finance companies in emerging markets will see higher demand for these customer service solutions.

Frost & Sullivan research manager Krishna Baidya stated that historically, offshore revenue has been the key driver of the Asia-Pacific contact center market and this continued in 2012, with offshoring contributing 39.6 percent of total revenues last year.

Mr Baidya said: “Cost savings, a large and relatively low cost labor pool, strong infrastructure, language proficiency and experience of serving western world customers make many Asia-Pacific locations preferred offshore destinations for contact center outsourcing for American and European companies.”

Frost & Sullivan predicts the Asia-Pacific contact center outsourcing market will increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.9 percent until 2018, with revenues that year expected to total US$S33 billion.

He also observed that an increasing focus on providing a high level of customer service is also leading to more domestic contact centers being established in the region.

Frost & Sullivan stated contact centers have begun to utilize the latest technology to improve their performance, while the adoption of new business models is helping improve operational efficiency and cost savings. Agents’ interpersonal skills and knowledge are also improving due to additional investments, as well-trained staff are increasingly recognized as being a valuable asset.

However, the report also highlighted several concerns that are affecting the market, such as market saturation, an anti-offshoring trend in many countries, the emergence of alternative locations and increasing agent attrition rates which may impact on future growth. Asia-Pacific providers will need to boost their quality and value to business needs to continue to grow.

“Traditional third-party outsourcing relationships based on cost and labor arbitrages have become passé,” said Mr Baidya. “End-to-end support and overall value proposition to customer’s business will be key in nurturing customer and provider relationship going forward.”