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2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice report
For the past four years, the team at SMAART Recruitment have produced the most comprehensive report on the Australian contact centre industry and the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report provides some incredible insight crucial for anyone working in the contact centre industry in Australia.
From a humble 46 pages in 2019, this year’s report contains 18 different categories over 206 pages and is packed full of expert insights, statistics, KPI performance, case studies and more with over 300 contact centres contributing to the report ensuring it is the most robust and reliable industry information available.
We’ve pulled together some of the key findings for you below by key sections but you can obtain a free digital copy of the full report on the dedicated website provided by Smaart Recruitment (will open a new window and you will need to provide your contact details to access the report).
Jump directly to Key Sections:
- Remote Working
- Absesentieeim & Attrition
- Employee Engagement
- Modern Ways of Working
- Macro Economic Factors
- Contact Centre Performance
- Digital Transformation
- Artificial Intelligence
- Mental Health & Wellbeing
- Customer Experience
- Knowledge Management
- Training, Learning & Development
- Workforce Optimisation
- Role of an Agent
- Role of a Team Leader
- Role of the Contact Centre Manager
- Salaries & Bonuses
Contributing Authors and Companies
Pulling together such a comprehensive report is no easy task and James Witcombe from Smaart Recruitment (and National Advisory Board Member of ACXPA) has done another brilliant job, supported by a range of local industry experts who all contributed to the writing of the report along with providing some commentary on key findings, best-practice tips and future predictions.
Contributing experts to the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report are:
- Daniel Harding, MaxContact (Remote Working)
- Tim Buzza, Attune (Absenteeism and Attrition)
- Sean McGinn, The Agile Contact Centre (Modern Ways of Working)
- Adam Spence, Uniphore (Artificial Intelligence)
- Brett Fairbank, PwC (Contact Centre Performance)
- Tom Ruijs, AP Psychology (Mental Health & Wellbeing)
- Ian Harrison, Verint (Technology Adoption)
- Belinda Haden, NICE (Customer Experience)
- Brad Shaw, Livepro (Knowledge Management)
- Bruce Craig, ESell Technologies (Training)
- Nimesh Dhanak, CallDesign (Workforce Planning and Optimisation)
- Kunal Rahalkar, Datagamz (The role of the Agent)
- Justin Tippett, Australian Customer Experience Professionals Association (The role of the Contact Centre Manager)
Their support, and that of their respective companies, enables this report to be produced at no cost for people working in the industry which is a fantastic outcome so please where possible make sure you also show some support for their companies in return!
Key Findings from the 2023 Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report
If there is one constant in contact centres is change and throughout 2023 and into 2023, that shows no signs of changing! Technology is continuing to play an increasingly critical role in the contact centre and the popularity of ChatGBT has certainly led to an explosion in Artificial Intelligence amongst consumers and the business community.
That said, some things are a constant in the contact centre industry and challenges with recruitment, retention and employee engagement continue to cause sleepless nights for contact centre managers.
This year’s report contains hundreds of key findings, statistics and insights into the industry through the eyes of senior leaders, contact centre managers, team leaders, frontline agents and a range of specialist roles such as knowledge managers, trainers and more.
COVID rapidly changed the work-from-home dynamics in most industries and contact centres certainly saw some rapid change however 2023 data suggest that things are starting to trend back to pre-COVID levels.
That said, we don’t expect that to continue and this year’s data is most likely reflective of the new normal and 70% of contact centres believe the ratio of work from home/onsite will remain the same (13% expecting it to increase, 17% expecting it to decrease).
- 57% of employees are working from home (down from 76% in 2022)
- The level of full flexibility (defined as the agents choosing where to work at least 90% of the time) reduced from 37% to 17% suggesting contact centres are starting to become more prescriptive in their requirements.
- The effectiveness of agents working from has continued to increase year on year, with 62% of centres claiming performance is as or more effective than working in the office.
- A ‘Disconnected Workforce’ is the biggest concern for contact centre managers (48%) followed by Mental Health (46%) and Employee Engagement (45%) when running a work-from-home workforce.
- Absenteeism is 52% lower when using a work-from-home workforce.
- 70% of contact centres reported no change to Customer Satisfaction results (up 4% from 2022) when agents are working in the contact centre versus when agents are working from home.
Absenteeism & Attrition
Managing absenteeism and attrition has always been a focus area for contact centre managers and in 2023 and the increase of remote work, it’s again high on the priority list.
Contact Centre Absenteeism rates for Australia 2023
- Average absenteeism increased from 9% in 2022 to 13.4% in 2023.
- Best practice (top 15% of contact centres) had less than 7% absenteeism.
- The leading causes of absenteeism in this year’s report was Seasonal illness/COVID up 34% to 68%, with the next highest reason the ‘increase in the challenge of the work (12%)
- Smaller contact centres (under 50 FTE) had the best average absenteeism (12.0%) with 300 to 500 FTE the worst (18.8%)
- 76% of respondents reported that absenteeism has improved with greater roster flexibility.
Contact Centre Attrition rates for 2023 in Australia
Attrition, when employees leave the contact centre, has increased in the past 12 months.
- 32% is the average attrition rate over the past 12 months (an increase of 6% from 2022)
- Best practice attrition was 15% or less attrition (23% of contact centres)
- More agents are leaving a company altogether 65% rather than to internal roles 35% (last year 61% left the company)
- There are a range of reasons why agents leave a contact centre with the leading causes:
- Pursuing a different career (56% – up 26% from last year
- Financial Reasons (38% – up 22% from last year)
- Personal Reasons (33%) – up 14% from last year)
- Dissatisfaction with the work (23% – up 15% from last year)
- Overall retention after 12 months from first hire has dropped to 64%, down from 69% (2022) and 73% (2021) confirming it is becoming harder and harder to retain employees.
79% of survey respondents to the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report are measuring employee engagement in some capacity.
- 34% of contact centres have a contact centre specific tool (as opposed to an organisational wide survey)
- 68% of centres share the results with frontline employees (up 4% from 2022)
- The average employee engagement score was 74/100 (down slightly from 75.6 in 2022)
- 54% of contact centres claim their employee engagement scores have improved from the previous year.
- When asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend your organisation as a place of employment to your family and friends (which savvy readers will note is a Net Promoter Score question), the average score was 7.9 (down from 8.3 in 2022)
- Employee Engagement activities that meant the most to employees (in order):
- Increased shift flexibility
- Opportunity for additional professional development
- More rewards for performance
- Face to face team activities within the office
- Face to face team social activities
Modern Ways of Working
You may have heard of terms like Agile Contact Centre which is bringing a new methodology in how contact centres are managed.
This section in the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report explored new ways of thinking and how aligned managers and employees are with the business objectives.
- Only 45% of leaders strongly agreed that they understand the organisation vision and purpose.
- 77% of leaders faced challenges with silos and poor collaboration with other teams.
- Only 31% of managers felt like they were spending enough time working on strategy (next 1 to 3 years)
- 31% of interactions into a contact centre were driven by failures of the business (known as Failure Demand).
- Only 4 in 10 leaders say they are managing change effectively.
Macro Economic Factors
You don’t have to go far to have a conversation about the state of the economy, rising inflation, employment rates and so on so in this year’s 2023 Contact Centre Industry Best Practice report a new section has been included to capture the Macro Economic Factors.
- Has the economy had an impact on the number of stressful customer interactions?
- Yes – significantly (24%)
- Yes – slightly (46%)
- No (28%)
- 68% of respondents expect this will increase throughout 2023.
- Has climate events (e.g. storms, floods etc) impacted your customer base over the past 12 months?
- Yes – significantly (26%)
- Yes – slightly (44%)
- No (30%)
- Biggest macroeconomic issues impacting the contact centre (in order):
- Cost of Living
- Cyber Security/Data breaches
- Change in government/Government Policy
- Reduction in number of international students
Contact Centre Performance
There is no shortage of metrics in a contact centre but knowing the right ones to use can be tricky and, of course, can differ between the size of the contact centre, the function of the contact centre, the industry sector and so on.
- The Average Speed of Answer (ASA) across the industry has decreased from 132 seconds (2022) to 101 seconds (2023).
- The Average Abandonment Rate has increased from 7% (2022) to 9% (2023)
- 80/30 is the most common Grade of Service metric (16%) followed by 80/20 (14%); however, there is a wide spread of targets. Across all GOS targets, 55% of contact centres reported achieving within or better than 95% of their target.
- The Average Handling Time was 507 seconds.
- The metrics given the greatest importance by contact centres were:
- Customer Feedback (69%)
- Abandonment Rate (63%)
- Average Speed of Answer (61%)
- Average Handling Time (43%)
- First Call Resolution (42%)
- Grade of Service (41%)
- The Average Customer Satisfaction Score is 75 (out of 100).
- The most popular metric for measuring customer feedback was Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) at 51%.
Digital Transformation is a term that you now hear often and there is no question that in the contact centre industry, there are significant opportunities to improve your efficiency, customer experience, employee experience and so on through the use of technology.
In this year’s 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, we gained some specific insight into the different types of contact centre technology available, and their use within a contract centre.
|Technology Type||Importance Rating||Practicing or Optimising||None or Not Planning|
|Single View Agent Desktop||76%||38%||27%|
|Analytics and Insights||74%||39%||19%|
Artificial Intelligence continues to rise in popularity and with ChatGBT being released in 2023, there has been an explosion in AI-related tools and awareness.
Whilst this 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report was released in May 2023, the surveys to obtain the data were completed prior to the release of ChatGBT so we can expect a dramatic shift in these numbers for the 2024 survey!
- When we mention Artificial Intelligence in a contact centre setting, it predominately relates to:
- Speech Analytics (61%) – up 20% from 2022
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants (56%)
- Robotic Process Automation (33%)
- IVR Natural Language (26%)
- Predictive Call Routing (26%)
- Notwithstanding, the overall use of Artificial Intelligence within contact centres is currently low but expected to increase:
- Currently using AI is an experimental way (12.5%)
- Currently using AI to a low to moderate level (26%)
- Currently using AI to a high level (4.5%)
- Not using AI currently but looking to implement in 2023/24 (26%)
- No plans to implement (25%)
- Don’t know/unsure (5%)
- Of those using AI, 32% claim that AI has helped them improve their customer satisfaction scores (up from 26% in 2022)
- 53% of contact centre respondents reported that AI-enabled them to reallocate resources to where they were better suited (no change from 2022).
- The Contact Centre Manager is the role predominantly responsible for managing the AI tools (48%) followed by IT (17%)
- 73% of respondents plan to invest more in AI solutions in the future.
- 85% believe AI will help human agents rather than replace them.
- 82% of survey respondents believe AI can provide a better overall contact centre experience.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
In a post-COVID era and the prevalence of a remote workforce, mental health and well-being is a big focus area for society as a whole and that extends to the contact centre industry where changes to working arrangements, reduced staffing, changes to support structures etc have all contributed to significant changes.
- 79% of respondents were confident in their levels of awareness towards the mental health and wellbeing of their people.
- 53% of respondents believe its become more difficult to maintain mental health and wellbeing with a remote workforce.
- 65% believe their call centre has the right processes and systems in place to effectively protect and support their employees.
- Less than half (48%) have confidence their employees can pro-actively and effectively support their own mental health and wellbeing.
The importance and awareness of Customer Experience continues to increase, and the role the contact centre is also continuing to rise in importance as a contributor to the CX outcomes for a business.
- The most common metrics used to measure Customer Experience are Net Promoter Score (NPS) (66%), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) (54%), Retention Rate (26%), Customer Churn(11%) and Customer Effort Scores (CES) (13%) the most common. Internally Developed Metrics (33%) also rated highly signifying some potential maturity about the value drivers that are important for some businesses.
- The most popular form of post-interaction survey is a post-call survey (45%) followed by post-email survey (33%).
- When using a post-interaction survey, NPS is the most popular (54%) followed by CSAT (40%)
- Email continues to be the most popular method to capture customer satisfaction with 62% followed by a post-call survey 35%.
- Speech Analytics usage continues to climb but there is still significant opportunity:
- 31% use it to gain customer insights
- 26% use it for quality management
- 50% are not using Speech Analytics at all
- 22% of contact centres have integrated tools enabling them to communicate with customers across multiple channels on the one platform.
- 46% of respondents reported that the CX KPIs are viewed and seen as important by the senior executive team/board.
A new section for the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report explores the use of purpose-built Knowledge Management Platforms (aka Knowledge Management Systems/KMS) that can provide significant benefits for contact centres.
A purpose-built KMS is designed, built and maintained specifically for a contact centre environment and they deliver answers (not pages of text/documents) to enable agents to respond quickly and easily to customer enquiries.
- 59% of people working in a Knowledge Management role started as an agent in the contact centre followed by a Team Leader role (22%
- Of those using a Knowledge Management Platform:
- 59% are using a purpose-built Knowledge Management platform
- 31% are using other platforms (i.e. Sharepoint, Word, Excel, folders on desks etc)
- 95% of contact centre managers believe a KMS delivers answers quickly to their agents.
- 83% of contact centre agents found a KMS helps them to deliver answers quickly to customers.
- Whilst a purpose-built Knowledge Management System is mostly used in the contact centre (68%), usage across the entire organisation is 32% as done well, a KMS becomes a single point of truth for all employees.
- 92% of contact centre managers report that their Knowledge Management System is ‘extremely or very important’ to the running of their contact centre.
Training, Learning & Development
Another new section for the 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report looks at trends, insights and benchmarks for Training, Learning and Development.
- The location of training for new agents:
- 100% onsite (44%)
- 75% onsite/25% remote (26%)
- 50% onsite/50% remote (8%)
- 25% onsite/75% remote (15%)
- 100% remote (5%)
- 82% of contact centre managers believe onsite training is the most effective.
- The most common length of training for new starters (induction):
- 2 weeks (31%)
- 3 weeks (26%)
- 4 weeks (26%)
- 11% of employees leave the organisation during the induction training period.
- Biggest challenges for employees during induction:
- Learning how to use/navigate systems (85%)
- Learning how to use/navigate the role/industry (44%)
- Learning about the product (36%)
- Training fatigue (28%)
- 10% of contact centres are using AI Coaching as part of their training.
- 70% of employees need to pass a test for induction training to be considered finished.
- 77% of contact centres never or rarely use external trainers/experts to conduct training.
- Areas existing staff need more training/greatest weakness:
- Communication (i.e listening, tone, empathy etc) (38%)
- Conflict Resolution (23%)
- Systems (18%)
- Products (10%)
- 24 hours per month, on average, is dedicated to frontline agent training, learning and development.
- How well are agents equipped to handle irritated customers:
- Very well equipped (0%)
- Well equipped (51%)
- Passive (44%)
- Not very well equipped (5%)
Just like in 2022, recruitment continues to be a big challenge for contact centre leaders however their has been a shift in some of the drivers.
- The top challenge for recruitment is that salaries are not competitive enough, 62% (up 26% from 2022) suggesting the contact centre industry has a lot of competition for resources from other industry sectors. This was followed by the low volume of applicants (48%).
- 46% of respondents estimate they will be recruiting more agents in 2023, 39% about the same, 14% less.
- Over the previous 12 months, 26% of agents were hired as remote workers.
- 46% of contact centres have hired people from other cities/states that would have normally been hired locally.
- Only 15% of respondents are hiring remotely for management, leadership and specialist contact centre roles.
- 28% of respondents claim the quality of frontline agents hired has improved (up from 15% in 2022).
- 18% of contact centres are using recruitment agencies to fill vacancies.
Workforce Planning & Optimisation
Workforce Planning & Optimisation is becoming an increasingly important function that is designed to maximise the efficiency of your workforce.
- Percentage of employees that work 100% from home:
- 21% of agents
- 13% of Team Leaders
- 17% of WFM staff
- For agents working a hybrid model, the most common number of days required to come into the office each week is 2 days (37%), 3 days (28%), 1 day (17%).
- 86% of WFM staff started as a contact centre agent.
- 76% of WFM staff are trained internally.
- 65% are using a cloud-based system, 35% are using on-premise.
- 60% of contact centres that do forecasting are using a workforce management system, 26% are still using Excel.
- 76% of contact centres measure forecast accuracy.
- 37% of contact centres created schedules weekly, 31% monthly, 20% fortnightly.
- Four weeks is the most common notice period of schedules for agents (37%), followed by six weeks (18%), and two or three weeks (16%)
- 66% of contact centres have an Adherence to Schedule KPI.
- The biggest challenges for the WFM team are the inability to recruit staff (42%), attrition (42%), providing staff with the flexibility they want (38%) and having agents adhere to the schedule (32%).
The Role of an Agent
The 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report surveyed over 500 frontline agents from a range of different-sized contact centres to gain their insights into the challenges they face as well as the opportunities to improve their work.
62% of the respondents had worked in the contact centre for a minimum of one year, with 17% working 5 years or more in the contact centre.
- 55% of agents claim to have very high or full flexibility over their ability to work from home, 21% have little to no flexibility.
- 74% of agents would work from home if given the choice.
- Less travel time is the biggest benefit cited with working from home.
- 48% of agents said the lack of social interaction is the biggest challenge when working from home.
- 30% of agents claim they are ‘a lot more productive’ when working from home.
- When asked what employee engagement activities mean the most:
- Increased shift flexibility (22%)
- Opportunity for professional development (21%)
- More rewards for performance (19%)
- 62% of agents said they would be less likely to leave if it was easier to make changes to their roster.
- When asked about career aspirations:
- 34% want to follow a career path towards a specialised role within the contact centre (i.e. WFM, Training, Knowledge Management, Reporting etc)
- 23% want to follow a career path with the same company but outside of the contact centre
- 12% want to be a Team Leader
- 21% aren’t looking beyond the current role at present and 7% don’t expect to be with the company beyond their current role.
- 65% of agents find their current role either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ fulfilling.
The Role of a Team Leader
Often described as the most important role in the contact centre, the Contact Centre Team Leader certainly has one of the most demanding roles and they can have a huge influence on your contact centre’s culture and performance.
- Coaching and Development of agents is considered their number one priority however 39% of Team Leaders claim they do not have enough time to do it.
- 48% of Team Leaders feel too much time is being spent in meetings (48%), dealing with personnel issues (26%) and dealing with escalations/complaints (26%).
- When asked what key functions they would like to remove from their role:
- Dealing with remote working issues (43%)
- Coordination of rosters (37%)
- Dealing with escalations and complaints (29%)
- Attending meetings (18%)
- Recruitment (18%)
- When asked to identify their two greatest weaknesses:
- Reporting and analysis (29%)
- Dealing with remote worker issues (28%)
- Being a subject matter expert (26%)
- Quality Assurance (15%)
- The most common frequency in conducting one on ones with their agents:
- Monthly (36%)
- Fortnightly (35%)
- Weekly (18%)
- Only 37% of contact centres have a structured and ongoing learning program for their Team Leaders
- 32% of Team Leaders have a monthly one on one with their manager, 27% fortnightly, 25% weekly.
- When asked about career ambitions:
- 40% are keen to advance their career within the contact centre.
- 25% are keen to advance their career within the same company, but outside of the contact centre.
- 22% are happy to just focus on being a Team Leader.
- The majority of Team Leaders find their job fulfilling (27%) and quite fulfilling (53%) – both down from results in 2022.
The Role of a Contact Centre Manager
The Contact Centre Manager role is becoming increasingly complex and critical to not only the success of the contact centre, but a significant contributor to the overall success of an organisation.
That said, there are some significant challenges for the contact centre manager in competing for valuable resources and ensuring the contact centre is considered when making key business decisions.
- 74% of contact centre managers felt their role was valued by their organisation (a decrease of 2% from the previous year).
- 47% of contact centre managers do not feel like they are provided with enough resources to meet their KPIs.
- 46% of contact centre managers believe the impact on the contact centre is not considered when the business is making decisions about products, services, policies etc.
- The scope of the contact centre is increasing with other channels including:
- Emails (91%)
- Live Chat (55%)
- SMS (45%)
- Written Communication (44%)
- Social Media (38%)
- Chatbots (26%)
- Given the increasing importance of technology in the contact centre, over 77% of contact centre managers are actively involved in decision-making with regards to the technology.
- When it comes to developing a business case for technology, 30% are led by the contact centre manager, 35% are led by IT, 17% are led by the contact centre managers’ manager.
- Most contact centre managers work 40 to 45 hours per week (43%) with 46 to 50 hours the next most common (26%). 24% of contact centre managers are working more than 51 hours per week.
- When it comes to staying up to date with what’s happening in the industry, the most common are:
- Subscribing to newsletters, podcasts, digital publications
- Joining an industry association (view our membership options >)
- Reading articles/comments on LinkedIn
- Attending conferences and webinars
- 88% of contact centre managers find their work either very fulfilling (45%) or quite fulfilling (43%).
Salaries and Bonuses
With the challenges in recruitment well documented it’s not surprising to learn there has been an increase in both salaries and bonuses for contact centre employees with some of the key findings below.
- The most common frontline role (customer service) has increased by approximately 3.4% on the previous year to a national average of $57,700 + Super. WA has the highest state average of $64,500 and South Australia the lowest at $55,000.
- 37% of frontline agents surveyed also reported receiving some form of bonus/commission with an average value of $4,000 the average bonus.
- Helpdesk Level 2/Senior ($67,300 + super), Senior Customer Service ($62,950 + super), Collections ($62,500 + super) and Outbound Sales ($62,200 + Super) were the top-paying roles.
- Customer Service Team Leader roles are still in hot demand and salaries have continued to increase with the national average base salary now $83,200 + super and an average bonus of $8,500. Outbound Sales Team Leaders are the highest paid with the national average base salary of $84,700 + super and an average $13,000 bonus.
- Workforce Planning roles continue to increase in demand and are in short supply. A Workforce Planning Manager’s national average salary is $132,000 + Super (up 3.9%).
- Knowledge Managers are also increasing in importance with a national average base salary of $116,200 + super.
- Contact Centre trainers earn on average $61,600 + super and Training Managers $82,500 + super (and 50% reporting an average bonus of $6,000)
- Senior roles are also in high demand but there is a wide range of definitions that can significantly influence salaries:
- Operations Manager ($127,000 + super + $16,500 bonus)
- Senior Operations Manager ($182,100 + super + $41,100 bonus)
- Contact Centre Manager ($131,100 + super + $7,200 bonus)
- Senior Contact Centre Manager ($156,000 + super + $12,200 bonus)
- Head of Contact Centres ($190,200 + super + $27,800 bonus)
- Head of Customer Service/CX ($204,600 + super + $19,400 bonus)
There is no question there is a significant amount of diversity in the Australian Contact Centre Industry and one of our aims at ACXPA is to continue to provide you with valuable information to help you benchmark, learn and share so we can all succeed as an industry.
We are pleased to confirm that we will again be supporting the 2024 Australian Contact Centres Best Practice report that will be released in June 2024.
If you would like a copy of the full 2023 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, please visit contactcentrebestpractice.com.au
View the latest Australian Call Centre Rankings – revealing wait times, quality performance, navigation times, talk times for Australian Contact Centres across a range of different industry sectors – updated monthly!