According to source, If we expand the definition of exports to include anything outside the borders of the province (in Canada and beyond), New Brunswick is also benefitting from the export of services – particularly telephone and e-mail-based customer-contact activity.
While we don’t have complete data on the full scope of the customer-contact centre industry (because it is not an industry per se, it cuts across multiple sectors of the economy); we do know that somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 New Brunswickers spend their days interacting with customers in Toronto, Calgary, Dallas, Sao Paulo and hundreds of other locations covering activities as wide ranging as hotel reservations and jet fuel purchases. There are millions of customer interactions each year between New Brunswickers and the world.
Using the ‘administrative and support services’ industry as one proxy, New Brunswick has witnessed explosive growth over the past 20 years. In 1991, there were roughly 5,000 people working in this industry. In 2009, that had grown to almost 19,000 people. New Brunswick has more people working in this industry, as a percentage of the workforce, than any other province in Canada by a wide margin. The finance and insurance sector in New Brunswick has also witnessed above average growth driven by the financial services customer contact centres in the province such as TD Insurance, Royal Bank and Cooperators Insurance.
This rapid growth has pushed up wage rates. The average weekly wage in the administrative and support services industry is up 41 per cent in just the past decade (compared to 27per cent across the economy).
As long as there has been a customer contact centre industry in New Brunswick, people have been worried about its longevity. The fear is that migration of customer interaction to the Internet will pose a serious threat to the New Brunswick industry. Because these companies are not capital-intensive (compared to a pulp mill or an auto manufacturing plant) it is relatively easy for them to downsize and then close their New Brunswick operations as the demand for direct interaction with customer service staff declines.
This is certainly a threat and it is very likely the customer contact centre industry in 2020 will be substantially different than the industry today.
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