The home is gaining new ground when it comes to call centers and stationing of customer services personnel. According to recent research published by Datamonitor, there will be significant growth in outsourced contact center agents based around the at-home model. Between now and 2012, Datamonitor expects the number of home-based customer service agents to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 36.4%, one of the strongest expansion levels of any outsourcing market sub-segment.
Based on extensive research across the at-home outsourcing market, Datamonitor projects that the global size of the home-based third-party customer service agents working 20 hours a week or more, currently stands at approximately 47,000. However, based on expected growth projections from pure-play and bricks-and-mortar vendors, Datamonitor expects it to rise to almost 224,000 by 2012.
Currently, the majority of home-based customer care agents are overwhelmingly based in the U.S. The prime verticals for this service are technology, healthcare, tourism and travel & insurance. This is due to the fact that all these sectors are highly specialized and in many cases, it is hard to recruit customer service agents for actual contact centers.
A further driver for many firms to look to at-home agents is the alternative it provides to sending work to offshore or nearshore locations. With lower costs and less concern about the integrity of infrastructure and public security, investors are beginning to see the home agent model as a viable alternative to moving agent positions to multiple locations globally.
However the home agent model will not impact that of offshore outsourcing massively over time. At-home agents serve a growing but specialized niche, and the need for large numbers of agents offshore with multilingual capabilities will remain a priority for outsourcing clients.
With many investors still worried over the integrity of customer data, there remain worries in the minds of many prospects over how secure the at-home agent model is. However, Datamonitor’s research has shown providers of these services have been able to address these concerns by deploying thorough background checks on prospective employees, as well as by providing real-time monitoring analytics.
Despite certain concerns surrounding the at-home outsourcing market, Datamonitor feels that this business model is certain to gain significant traction from companies interested in lowering overall costs, while keeping their customer facing services onshore. In addition, the quality that can be derived from a typical home agent is reportedly very strong, which will be another driver for companies to gain from excellent end-user interactions.
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