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News release


Jobs Abound for Digital-Savvy Contact Center Workers in North America

Digitization, consolidation and geopolitical uncertainty driving North American job growth in contact centers

CHICAGO, Feb. 16, 2017 – For U.S. contact centers, less really does mean more. Despite waning consumer interest in talking with a customer service rep over the phone, alternative customer service methods such as live chatting and tweeting are creating jobs in North American contact centers, according to JLL's inaugural Contact Centers Outlook. Many contact centers are still located in India and the Philippines, but thanks to the rise of smart phones, social media and growing geopolitical uncertainty, the industry is set to flourish domestically in 2017.

JLL's report reveals that the contact center industry grew steadily across the world in 2016, and predicts further growth over the coming five years for both in-house and third party operations. It also reveals that the United States is becoming an attractive location and leader among the new tech-enabled contact centers.

"Millennials can be reluctant to talk to a live person. They prefer text, live chats, or social channels like Twitter to get their issues resolved," observed Kyle Harding, Co-Lead of JLL's Contact Centers group. "This shift in consumer preference makes the U.S. contact center real estate market more important than ever. U.S. locations feature greater access to a tech-savvy workforce that is now required for the industry."

Yes, this changes everything

"The shift from 'call center' to 'contact center' will reach full maturity this year, as non-voice channel revenues have nearly doubled since 2011, growing a massive 91 percent," said Tadd Wisinski, Co-Lead of JLL's Contact Centers group. "That means change on two fronts: talent and technology. While the need for tech-savvy workers is exploding, the technology supporting their work is also evolving. Automation and new multi-channel deliveries are pivoting to keep up with consumer demand for a high quality, customized service."

The U.S. leads the field of high-quality product and services and is fast becoming the market leader in contact center outsourcing (CCO).

Fewer players, but more jobs

The urgency for digital models is spurring third party providers to purchase new technologies through mergers and acquisitions. Mergers also escalate local consolidation, and while some communities may lose jobs due to consolidation, others will gain them as the industry as a whole expands.   

In many markets, open Customer Service Representative (CSR) positions heavily outnumber the volume of qualified candidates, creating a notable labor gap. As a result, competition for skilled labor is high, placing pressure both on wages and on employee expectations for modern work spaces, as well as promotion and incentive opportunities.

"With the war for talent, real estate and workplace are becoming more important than ever for contact centers," Harding added. "Companies are not only looking for the right location but the right space to enable their staff to be as efficient, productive and motivated as possible. Contact center operators will pay more attention to workplace strategies."

But many factors are considered in the real estate decision-making process for users and third-party providers. One option gaining traction is the plug and play model which provides convenient and efficient move-in ready centers for operators, and can cut transition and downtime to a minimum. Third-party providers, specifically, search for these spaces to minimize cost and save time.

"Plug and play spaces are also now aiming to cater to the 'live, work, play' employee base, targeting areas with amenities, gyms, and restaurants nearby," Harding noted. "Another ready-to-go contact center option includes incorporating adaptive reuse elements by transforming former retail spaces and big box stores."

Geopolitical uncertainty breeds opportunity for reshoring

The geopolitical climate is changing in several key contact center markets while pressure mounts in the U.S. to bring jobs back to the country. U.S. policymakers have proposed several pieces of legislation to combat CCO offshoring. The next four years may produce regulatory obstacles for CCO firms, which rely on access to competitive international labor.

"While contact centers evolve to adapt to the digital communications preferences of today's consumers, users and buyers will pay close attention to the uncertain geopolitical climate and evaluate their portfolios to prepare for any swift changes in policy that impact their business," concluded Wisinski.

For more insights on the outlook for the contact center industry in 2017, download Contact Centers 2017 Outlook: Technology, M&A and geopolitical uncertainty poised to disrupt contact center industry.

About JLL Contact Center Solutions

JLL's contact center professionals provide services, technologies and consultation at every turn in your journey, from location strategy to site selection, procurement, construction management and beyond. We combine real estate expertise with the latest technology so you can have complete confidence in our methodology, recommendations and outcomes. Our Contact Center Solutions professionals have worked with some of the world's largest corporations to solve their contact center needs. Let us personalize a strategy that aligns to your company's vision and goals.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2016, JLL had revenue of $6.8 billion and fee revenue of $5.8 billion and, on behalf of clients, managed 4.4 billion square feet, or 409 million square meters, and completed sales acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $136 billion. At year-end 2016, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 77,000. As of December 31, 2016, LaSalle Investment Management has $60.1 billion of real estate under asset management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit