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Home agents - the future of the contact centres

11th Jun 2018
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The Cloud has ushered in a new era for contact centres – and it’s making it possible to bring jobs back home.

This is a message that’s slowly starting to resonate across the world. According to the National Association of Call Centres, 53% of US contact centres already employ home agents as part of their workforce.

There are several good reasons for this.

It makes financial sense

Maintaining a brick-and-mortar contact centre is expensive. Recruiting and training staff are expensive. So are sick days, annual leave, incentive schemes and motivation programmes. Many see the solution as offshoring, where call centres are outsourced to countries where agent salaries are considerably lower – but offshoring has its hidden costs. The loss of revenue attributed to customers receiving less than stellar service from BPOs can be considerable. Now, utilizing the services of skilled agents if and when companies need them is a model that’s become increasingly popular.

Happier agents are more productive agents

Putting aside the often significant savings of time and money realized in avoiding a commute, being able to work from the comfort of their own homes (even closer to their families) is a recipe for greater agent satisfaction. Home agents are less stressed, feel more empowered, and have more hours in the day for themselves.

The model also makes for a harder-working agent. There are often fewer distractions at home – and the incentive to deliver excellent customer service is greatly amplified as it’s the agents who excel that will be called upon time and time again.

Technology has made it easier than ever

Cloud technology and digital migration has made it possible for more and more contact centres to utilize home agents. SaaS company CEO Nour Addine Ayyoub is a strong campaigner for the home agent marketplace and using to AI create jobs, not end them.
Ayyoub’s company ZaiLab, for example, specializes in cloud-based contact centre software that is 100% geared towards supporting this home-agent model. ZaiLab’s software allows a contact centre to become truly cloud-based, so agents can be based anywhere, They can even use the software to start their own business from home.

‘Cloud-based technology has changed the way contact centres do business,’ says Ayyoub. ‘With ZaiLab’s software, anyone can set up a contact centre anytime, anywhere – all that’s needed is an Internet connection.’

A blueprint to change lives

There are ethical reasons for companies to hire home agents. Not only can agents save considerably on commuting, suddenly individuals who had no previous access to decent work can enter the marketplace – stay-at-home mothers, the disabled, war veterans and retirees. But Ayyoub believes the impact is even more far-reaching. He sees the potential to transform entire communities.

In 2017 ZaiLab set out to establish the first community-based contact centre in the Western Cape province of South Africa to train and employ agents residing in the area. Ayyoub decided to centre his efforts in Delft, a poor community located far from the Cape Town CBD where most had to travel daily for work. Opened in March 2018, the contact centre features the most sophisticated software and hardware available and allows resident agents to work closer to home. In addition, entrepreneurs are geared to start their careers with a proven system of operation and prior training. Ayyoub believes this blueprint can be replicated anywhere in the world.

'I set out to prove the social implications of a community contact centre in South Africa by using our software to create mass employment for those who needed it most,’ explains Ayyyoub. ‘The Delft contact centre has the potential to create 1000 jobs in the area. This fact alone makes it a more holistic and ethical choice to offshoring. Thanks to technology, the community are able to create their own BPOs. Thanks to the cloud, they can offer their services to any company in the world.'

Ayyoub is set to lead a round-table discussion on the social impact of home agents at Customer contact Week in Las Vegas in June.

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