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New Call Center Bill Forces Companies to Examine Potential in Home-Based Agents and the Virtual Call Center

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January 27, 2012

New Call Center Bill Forces Companies to Examine Potential in Home-Based Agents and the Virtual Call Center

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

While the holidays consume much of December, focusing attention on spending, job growth and retail discounts, the month also saw the introduction of a new bill that could change the focus in the call center outsourcing space for years to come.

As captured in this Our Future blog, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), aims to reverse the trend of offshoring call center jobs, while also protecting the rights of the consumer.

The proposed legislation has caused a stir in the call center space as it would require increased transparency when jobs are shipped out of the U.S. It would also give American consumers the right to ask to be transferred to a U.S.-based call center and ban the availability of federal or guaranteed loans to those American companies that move call center jobs offshore.

The bill would also require that callers have the right to access a live person on a call within just a few minutes, eliminating the lengthy phone trees. As a number of U.S. companies still secure call center support from outsourcers in India and the Philippines, this legislation could completely change the dynamics within the industry.  It could also reverse the job trend in the U.S.

One of the main proponents for moving the call center offshore in the first place was to cut the costs associated with customer care. Offshore agents in the Philippines and in India traditionally require a much lower salary and the total cost of operations offshore is a fraction of many U.S.-based locations.

Technology advancements today, however, have changed the options for companies seeking a more economic approach to the call center. The virtual call center allows for the implementation of customer care services without the substantial technological investments traditional call centers demanded.

The same technology can be used to deploy agents working from home. A company can literally eliminate the total cost of the brick and mortar call center, operating the call center in the cloud. Salaries may still be higher than offshore agents, yet the elimination of much of the overhead associated with the traditional call center can mediate the difference.

It’s too soon to tell the level of bite this legislation will have if passed, and whether or not it will significantly increase U.S.-based jobs. One certainty is that its mere existence has forced a number of companies to take a closer look at their operation, measuring the potential for work-at-home or virtual call center agents.

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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