The tide is turning in the outsourcing world. What was once a flood of companies turning their back on local contact centres in favour of offshore operations in low wage countries is now a trickle. This is confirmed by research from Ovum that revealed that only 10 per cent of large enterprises in Europe, North America and Australia had plans to offshore customer services during the 2011-2014 period.
While there will always be a need to reduce operational costs, companies today are much less likely to rate ‘saving money’ more important than ‘delivering positive customer experiences’*.
Returning service to the homeland, however, isn’t a simple matter. Setting up new domestic centres is complex, time-consuming and costly in terms of people, technology and office space. A new operation may also take a time to bed in, raising the worry that service levels may actually fall in the short term.
A simple, low risk effective solution to this dilemma is to source everything needed to run a local service operation from specialists operating ‘in the cloud’.
Cloudsourcers are effectively a new breed of contact centre outsourcer that run virtualised and distributed operations using home-based agents and hosted technology, enabling them to set-up ‘local’ operations faster and cheaper than traditional in-house or outsourced operators. This provides as much capacity as is needed today with a low cost scalable model that can grow and shrink in line with demand. With a UK-wide catchment area for recruitment, the possibilities to tap into rich vein of talent and future-proof operations are benefits that remain beyond the reach of traditional brick and mortar operators.
Homeworking is already a well-proven model to improve contact centre performance. It has been shown to reduce operating costs (by removing idle hours, wait time and physical infrastructure), revolutionise planning and scheduling and boost customer experiences. Indeed, a post-call customer survey recently conducted for one company reveals that 87% of queries were resolved on the call with customers rating advisors 8.4 out of 9 for both ‘ability to listen and understand’ and ‘taking ownership of the enquiry’. The same company also reports a 15 per cent annual fall in the number of complaints, a 14 per cent saving through more efficient scheduling; a 10 per cent reduction in average handle time, and a 14% overall cost reduction as a result of cloudsourcing.
Cloudsourcing takes homeworking to the next level by delivering services faster, cheaper and more flexibly with fully-virtualised models for recruitment, training, scheduling, management and communications. It also gives companies the flexibility to bring together outsourced and in-house agents on a single technology platform, with all agents managed as a single entity using the same set of technology tools. This ‘co-sourced’ model, already used in the UK by Home Retail Group and others, requires little or no invest in new equipment and frees-up purchasing businesses to focus on command and control functions (which can be run out of any corporate office), safe in the knowledge that day-to-day maintenance of communications, management and scheduling systems is being carried out by network-based specialists.
Ovum’s recent report ‘The future of home-based agent outsourcing’ highlights homeworking as a hot trend for the years ahead. The report predicts that the number of home-based agents will increase from just under 84,000 to nearly 160,000 by the end of 2017.