Friday, May 27, 2005

Homesourcing Trend

Tom Keating - VoIP Blog

Homesourcing (call center agents working from home) is a hot trend according to Phil Keating (no relation) on the Fox News Channel just about 5 miniutes ago (7:35pm). Phil Keating reported homesourcing is becoming a growing trend among American call centers In fact, he reported that Office Depot is closing 10 of 12 call centers and replacing nearly 1,000 agents with agents working from home. According to the Fox News Channel, (the most accurate news network by the way - inviting some flaming here ), about 20% of all customer service agents are taking orders from their houses not companies.

Phil also interviewed Tim Houlne CEO, the CEO of Working Solutions, an outsourcer of homesourced agents. They provide companies with qualified home working agents. Tim Houlne stated, "So if you focus on the results and the solutions that you provide it makes a great alternative to building brick and mortar facilities."

Phil Keating reported, "The homesourcing trend is replacing the trend of a few years ago - offshoring those call center jobs. The reason? American customers say they prefer an American on the other end of the phone. You mean no more agents with Indian accents answering my call? Hey, does this mean no more offshoring of IT/MIS jobs as well? Alas, programmers never really have to talk with people - only as a last resort and begrudgingly at that. Nobody ever said IT folk were socialable! So I don't think this news applies to IT/MIS.

One thing Fox neglected to mention is the technology that is ENABLING homesourcing of call center agents. I'll give you one guess... Yep, it's often VoIP connected to the "brick & mortar's PBX.. There are several solutions that do this, including solutions from Citel. Although some homesourcers simply use a VPN to access a CRM database and use the good ole' PSTN. Of course even when they do use the PSTN, often times the call is routed from one VoIP gateway to another VoIP gateway and then to the agent's home to save on toll costs. And if they aren't using VoIP and are still using expensive conferencing ports where an agent has to dial-into the PBX, then they need to get on the ball and move to VoIP and save a ton of money. Call centers have more call volume than any other industry, so every cent saved per call counts!

P.S. Gotta love Windows Media Center Edition PC - using my PC I was able to rewind the story to get the exact names and quotes.


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