Despite the announcement yesterday that Waterford-based call centre Talk Talk is to close within a month with the loss of 575 jobs, the contact centre industry this morning reported that it is in a significant period of growth.

Research carried out by Amárach Research for the Contact Centre Management Association of Ireland (CCMA), with the support of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, reveals that the sector employs more than 29,000 people, with a spread of over 100 contact centre operations nationwide.

The research was conducted in Q2 2011 and involved involved 52 participants in the contact centre, BPO and shared service market.

According to the CCMA, the results indicate that the contact centre sector is highly valuable to the Irish economy and is in a significant period of growth.

More than half (52pc) of respondents said their companies grew in absolute revenue terms in 2010, while 73pc said they expect to grow in terms of revenue over the next two to three years and 13pc expect no change.

The CCMA research also reveals the extent of the communications taking place within the sector, with over 150m customer interactions in 2010 alone. Some 90m or 59pc of these interactions were telephone calls, with inbound calls accounting for double that of outbound calls, while electronic communications (SMS and email) accounted for 16pc of all communications. Significant growth is forecast for SMS and email in the next 12 months.

“These figures outline the crucial role the contact centre sector plays in the Irish economy, and the high level of service which is provided by skilled professionals throughout the country,” said Tracy Kennedy, board member of the CCMA and head of customer operations for Bord Gáis Energy. “However, it also highlights issues such as achieving and supporting new business, management of costs and competitiveness and economy related issues which need to be tackled in order for us to continue to grow.”

With 37pc of respondent companies requiring multi-lingual skills, the CCMA said languages are crucial for industry growth.

“Based on the findings and the challenges highlighted by respondents, the CCMA hopes to work with various Government bodies to continue to promote investment in our sector in the area of skills development, funding for research and development and IT infrastructure,” said Maurice Whelan, chairperson of the CCMA and head of customer experience, Sage Ireland.

IDA Ireland’s Emmanuel Dowdall said customer contact industry continues to be an invaluable source of employment creation from multinational companies locating in Ireland across a range of industry sectors including finance, IT, life sciences and e-commerce.