While companies debate the economic advantages of virtual contact centers – using home-based agents to build a distributed workforce, using technology to tie everyone into one organization – the merits and benefits of such a call center model seem to be expanding daily. While the model first reared its head in North America, other regions are rapidly realizing the benefits, and some organizations are taking it beyond regional.
Severe economically or military unrest can cause a drain on local business, as many companies in Egypt are finding out during that country's continued crisis. In some parts of the world, women are either unwilling or unable to leave their homes without escorts, making employment difficult. Individuals who might make excellent call center agents may not own cars, or they may live in areas insufficiently serviced by public transit. To one entrepreneur who has watched most outsourced call center service go to nations like India or the Philippines, the home agent model is ripe for Middle East-North Africa (MENA) nations.
Egyptian entrepreneur Karim Sameh came up with the concept of CloudCenter, a cloud-based operation he hopes will undercut competitors’ prices in other parts of the world. The central concept is to employ home-based freelancers who might be located anywhere in the world. Agents can answer calls from anywhere, including Egypt, Kenya, or a small village in South America, writes Wamda.com, an online business journal serving the MENA area. A bidding system will determine prices, with each call going to the employee bidding the lower per-minute price that moment.
“This way we guarantee that the customer is always paying the lowest rate,” Sameh, who has 20 years of experience in IT and five years of experience working in IT outsourcing in Egypt, told Wamda.com. “With employees in time zones around the world, CloudCenter would also provide clients with agents working during day hours, removing the need for clients to pay a premium for night shifts.”
Sameh says his business model can offer services for 25 percent of the cost of traditional call center service. While he estimates that the average call center customer in the U.S. would typically pay $2,000 a month for cell center services, he could offer services for $500.
He can also take advantage of regional expertise to tailor services to clients' needs and keep prices low.
“Resources in Kenya speak better English than those in India, while resources in Rwanda, for instance, have very good French. Each resource will only be allowed to answer within one vertical,” said Sameh.
Watch a video about CloudCenter's services here.
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Edited by Rich Steeves