Tauranga is well-placed to attract a share of the growing call centre market, says industry expert Giles Potter, who visited the Bay of Plenty last Friday to brief Priority One on the sector's potential.
Priority One business relocations manager Max Mason said attracting call centre businesses from within and outside New Zealand was a key focus of Priority One's strategy this year.
"The global call centre attraction business is very competitive and so far Tauranga and the Western BOP hasn't really been on the radar of firms from the US and Australia, although New Zealand as a whole has," said Mr Mason.
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"We intend to change that situation by promoting our competitive advantages."
Mr Potter has been consulting to government departments and corporates on developing and optimising call centres since founding his company, Great Outcomes, in 2001.
"Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty have a huge amount of potential for many reasons," said Mr Potter.
He noted that the industry was focused in Auckland, but was growing and confirmed that New Zealand was attracting international call centre business.
"People in Auckland are very willing to relocate to Tauranga, which is a great potential location for call centres and only a 45-minute flight from Auckland. It's very easy to get to and has a good population, that is growing and expanding, of people who are available for work.
"There's an existing business community so it's well-serviced with things like telecoms and good infrastructure, and there is available commercial space."
Mr Potter also cited plans to set up a new Waikato University campus and the lifestyle attractions as adding to the area's appeal.
"It's a very attractive location to work in and there is ample accommodation to buy, not just in Tauranga, but in Katikati, Te Puke and right across to Rotorua."
He emphasised that the industry was no longer just about people handling phone calls.
"What we should really be calling it these days is the digital customer environment," said Mr Potter.
"A lot of people start off looking on websites for new info; about a new car, or a holiday, or for utility details or new insurance. After they've done what they can on the website or the phone app, it's not too long before they need to talk to someone, either via web chat or by switching across to a call centre.
"So it's very much a service and sales opportunity in the digital world today. It's a professional environment and there are a large number of roles for professional people on a fulltime, permanently employed basis."
Call centre industry:
* Employs about 30,000 staff across New Zealand
* About 400 call centres nationwide
* About two-third of centres are located in Auckland