A Call Center in Your Bedroom

Work-from-home customer service reps are a rapidly growing trend, with the number of such workers predicted to rise 375% by 2012

The trend for call centre workers to be based from home is set to increase rapidly over the next five years as businesses look to cut customer service costs.

Analyst Datamonitor claims the use of outsourced home agents is now becoming a mainstream option for businesses.

There are currently around 47,000 home-based outsourced call centre workers working 20 hours per week or more globally - predominantly in the US - and Datamonitor predicts this will rise to almost 224,000 by 2012.

Peter Ryan, Datamonitor senior analyst for contact centre outsourcing and offshoring, said in a statement: "It is clear home agents are no longer a passing fancy, and are rapidly becoming mainstream."

The different demographic profile of home-based agents is one of the reasons companies are going down this route. They tend to be older and have more work experience than typical call centre workers, have higher customer satisfaction levels and lower attrition rates, according to vendors of home-based agent services.

There are security concerns about the safety of customer data with this model but the report found home agent providers use thorough background checks on prospective recruits and use real-time monitoring analytics.

The main industry sectors embracing the home call-centre agent model are healthcare, insurance, technology, tourism and travel.

In the UK the AA is a big user of home-working call centre agents, although it employs these workers itself rather than using a third-party.

The AA has almost 300 home-based call centre agents across its roadside breakdown and insurance businesses taking calls from motorists and dealing with insurance quotes.

Trevor Didcock, who has just left the AA as IT director, said: "People will be in their homes with a dedicated workstation that is plugged into the automatic call distribution [system]."

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