The number of outsourced home agents will double by 2015 thanks to innovations around security, vertical market expansion, and forays beyond the traditional US market, according to Ovum. However, while this model will outgrow facilities-based outsourcing in terms of overall pace, it will remain a niche until longstanding enterprise concerns around data security, agent supervision, and fostering a team atmosphere across a virtual model are overcome.
In new research identifying the market opportunity for home agents, Ovum forecasts the number of agents working more than 20 hours per week will reach nearly 130,000 in the next four years, growing predominantly in the US (88 percent share). There will be increased penetration in other English-speaking countries, with Australia being viewed favourably among home agent vendors looking for regional expansion, thanks to its commonalities with US economic and work culture.
"Since its inception, outsourced home agents have garnered a strong reputation for providing end users with robust customer experience, one that ideally drives repeat business and referrals," explains Peter Ryan, practice leader of Ovum IT services team. "With customer satisfaction and increased revenues identified as key business goals for enterprises, vendors of home agent services are well placed to take on work from enterprises that are more discerning than ever about execution quality and lowering costs."
Customer care will continue to comprise the bulk of horizontal applications, with approximately half the share of agents through to 2015. During this time, however, Ovum expects greater take-up of technical support (25 percent) by home-based agents, as well as communications and media (32 percent), as executives recognize the crucial need for quality customer experience, with communications packages increasing in sophistication, providing a competitive price point and offering rapid scalability.
"Any firm looking to enter or expand its footprint in the outsourced home agent market should target sectors in which interest in this business model is significant, as well as those that require higher-margin processes, including healthcare and insurance-related work," suggests Ryan. "Non-voice multi-channel CRM work should also be considered, in order to take advantage of the superior agent quality and sophistication that the virtual model offers."
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