Deputy Editor Sift Media
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Contact centres: Home-based working rising sharply

14th Apr 2014
Deputy Editor Sift Media
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Call centre agents are enjoying a considerably shorter commute it seems, with the number of home-based workers going through the roof.

As more contact centres across a growing number of industries adopt a work-from-home model, the number of out-sourced workers will hit the 100,000 mark in no time, according to analysts at Ovum.

Currently just shy of 84,000, the number of home workers in this sector will almost double in the four-year period between 2013 and 2017 say Ovum, reaching nearly 160,000. A compounded annual growth rate of 17.5% is predicted for the next three years – a rate that’s two times that of the current bricks-and-mortar contact centre outsourcing market.

The healthcare industry is predicted to be the biggest adopter of outsourcing between now and 2017, increasing their percentage of home-based agents from 8% to 13%. Most of this growth will come courtesy of the US market, thanks, to some extent, to the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Author of the report, Ovum’s Peter Ryan, has spoken about the reasons behind this shift. “Outsourced home-based agents are starting to diversify beyond strict customer care functions to managing more complex enquiries across multiple channels. The long-time benefits associated with third-party home agents, such as competitive pricing and labour quality, have been determinants in helping to foster this significant growth.”

However, there are a still a number of issues hindering this growth, which could perhaps otherwise reach even more significant heights. Concerns surrounding data security and supervision, as well as broader cultural issues and matters of infrastructure, mean that outsourcers are still faced with challenges when finding new clients. Organisations are right to carefully consider whether home-based agents are for them, though.

Ryan comments: “Ovum’s recommendations from the study encourage enterprises to understand the risks of adopting an outsourced home agent strategy. The use of third-party home agents is an excellent alternative to traditional delivery methods for some firms, but this move requires significant reflection on the part of prospective enterprises. For vendors on the other hand, one of the successes of home-based agent outsourcing has been the ability to recruit large numbers of high-calibre agents.

“However, there are signs that attrition within this contact centre segment is starting to creep up. To maintain a sizable pool of available agents, Ovum recommends that outsourcers seek out otherwise unexplored potential pockets of workers.”

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