In the past companies had two basic choices in how to provide call center services: internally or by outsourcing the service, typically to a company based where labor costs are low. Recently some companies have supplemented their in-company resources with home-based agents, and a growing number of providers offer outsourcing services in-country, for example, in North America. From a technology perspective as well, companies had two choices: on-premises or the outsourcer using its own technology. Here also a third option has opened up as technology vendors provide their systems “in the cloud,” housed at the vendor’s premises and accessed by users over the Internet. One of these is Alpine Access, which offers an alternative to third-party outsourcing through home-based agents and cloud-based technology.
The company has three core services: virtual business process outsourcing (vBPO), virtual recruitment process outsourcing (vRPO) and virtual learning process outsourcing (vLPO). Using a combination of these services, Alpine Access helps customers recruit home-based agents from anywhere in North America and Canada train them, and then it provides the technology that delivers calls to their homes and enables access to the customer’s in-house systems over the Internet to help the agents resolve callers’ issues. It provides services to manage the agents’ time – many work part-time – so the right numbers of skilled agents are available to meet the company’s demands at any time. It also provides extensive security software to ensure that the approved person is signing on to the service and accessing the system from an approved location. Since the agents are “virtual” and are accessing all the systems over the Internet, it doesn’t matter if the client company’s systems are based on-premises, in the cloud or in a combination of both. Alpine Access also makes its recruitment and e-learning processes and systems available as stand-alone services for companies that want to do their own recruitment and training.
Ventana Research’s benchmark research into agent performance management shows that it is very important for companies to have appropriately skilled agents available at any time to handle customer interactions. Contact centers managed in-house often have issues in recruiting, training and retaining enough skilled agents to meet the increasing demands of customers and in matching their availability to unpredictable call volumes. While the traditional outsourcing model often seems cheaper, those providers tend to have problems recruiting agents with the right profile of skills to match customer expectations. The Alpine Access model overcomes many of these issues by tapping into a pool of skilled home workers, many of whom can’t work full-time or don’t want to, but whose availability can be managed through text messaging and activating them remotely. This can produce better matching of agent availability to demand and better customer experiences because the agents are more experienced. The cloud computing model almost makes location irrelevant, and agents and systems may be scattered over a very wide area.
How do you recruit and train your agents? Are you following the trend to use home-based agents? Please tell us more and come collaborate with me on social media.
Richard Snow – VP & Research