May 16, 2011
Trends in the Call Center Market: At-Home Agents, Cloud
Applications and Social Media
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
If the phrase call center agent conjures up images of college students or recent grads slogging
away on a contact center floor filled with gray cubicles, think again. At least for Working
Solutions, a provider of outsourced customer service support and sales, that is not an accurate
description of the workforce.
“We have probably the most highly distributed workforce in the country, since all of our agents
work at home,” said Marc Cullers, vice president of sales and business development at Working
Solutions, in a recent TMCnet video interview.
Cullers continued, “Most of our agents are 38 to 55 years old. Sixty-eight percent have a college
degree or some level of college education. Many are bilingual. We can provide a very high
caliber agent to provide a better customer service experience. We routinely see improvement
in things like first call resolution, up-selling and cross-selling.”
The U.S.-based, at-home agent model works very well, Cullers said, because it allows Working
Solutions to be flexible in meeting market needs. The company, which has been in business
since 1996, is able to work with its customers, create a profile of the ideal agent, and then
recruit agents who match.
Working Solutions is also able to scale its workforce quickly, staffing in as little as 30-minute
increments. This means companies with seasonal or even daily fluctuations in their contact
center staffing needs can find what they’re looking for.
Because of its business model, Working Solutions is also an innovator in the area of
communications solutions that support distributed workforces. Cloud applications and
software-as-a-service are definitely not alien concepts for Cullers’ company.
“We’ve invested in hardware and software to run a distributed workforce,” Cullers noted in the
interview. “We also have interest in companies looking to leverage that technology for their
Lately, Working Solutions has also been making inroads into social media, and what this trend
means for contact centers.
“Our view if that social media will eventually end up in the call center, and ultimately become
another channel,” Cullers predicted. “The call center is where a lot of processes and rules have
been put in place for companies to deal with customer service issues. We have invested in
social media monitoring software and how to tie that in with interaction routing capabilities.”
The upshot of all this is that tools are available now to help companies monitor what’s
happening in the social media space, and then route appropriate agents to respond. Companies
looking to stay on the cutting edge, Cullers said, can do so relatively easily simply by using a
monitoring tool for, say, 60 days, to find out what people are saying about them on social
media. From that, they can begin to formulate a longer-term plan.
The reason all this matters, Cullers stressed, is that the generation now growing up into
customers consists of people who are not all that likely to pick up the phone when they want to
find out about companies or get support. Instead, they probably make inquiries to their
Facebook friends and do a Google (News – Alert) search. Companies need to be thinking now
about how the dynamic is changing.
For more about how companies in the business-to-consumer space can leverage existing
technologies to develop successful support and sales strategies, watch the full video interview.
Mae Kowalke is a TMCnet contributor. She is Manager of Stories at Neundorfer, Inc., a cleantech
company in Northeast Ohio. She has more than 10 years experience in journalism, marketing
and communications, and has a passion for new tech gadgets. To read more of her articles,
please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell