While the global Contact Center Services market has been relatively slow in recent years, the “@Home” model, whereby agents work from their residences, has seen significant growth.
One key factor has been the economic downturn in the United States. High unemployment rates, coupled with the attractiveness of flexible work schedules, have produced a qualified, motivated pool of available agents.
The technology has also improved significantly. Home-based agents are increasingly able to securely access a Fortune 1000 firm’s customer information. In addition to enabling information, applications and phones to be locked down, online screening, recruiting, training and oversight/supervision tools have evolved to the point where they are more effective than traditional models.
The @Home model is also proving to be effective at reducing costs. With lower overhead and a more productive staffing model, market leaders can deliver @Home services for between $22 and $24/payroll hour – a 20 percent savings over the traditional outsourced model and typically a 25 percent to 35 percent improvement over a client’s fully loaded internal operating cost. In many client organizations, that level of savings makes the @Home solution preferable to taking customers offshore (where the savings might be 40 percent to 50 percent), where the political reactions are much more negative.
@Home agents tend to be better educated, more mature (8-10 years older) and more stable. The benefits of flexible scheduling, job security and not commuting boost job (as well as customer) satisfaction rates and significantly reduce attrition.
The @Home model can optimize efficiency and productivity by layering agents to match call arrival patterns and/or unexpected surges and lulls in volume. By requiring the physical presence of agents, brick and mortar centers lack this inherent scheduling flexibility of the @Home services delivery model.
In response to these trends, several firms specializing in the @Home model have emerged, while all major CCS providers have expanded their portfolios so that @Home agents now comprise 10 percent to 20 percent of the agent population. Internal delivery models have similarly increased their agent pools to include a larger percentage of @Home agents.
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Mr. McMenamin is a Senior Director who brings more than 25 years of outsourcing and consulting experience to ISG Clients. His work experience includes leadership positions in services delivery, business development and management consulting in both information technology and business process outsourcing environments. He is a subject matter expert on IT Services Outsourcing and is active on Practice Development Teams supporting Service Desks, End User Computing (EUC), Service Integration and Management (SIAM) and Contact Center Services (CCS).