How to Replace Traditional Call Centers with Crowdsourcing & Home Based Agents


There are a few parameters on the basis of which a company is judged. Without a doubt, amongst the most important would have to be the customer support it provides. Think about it, the customer care support is the only way in which a customer can reach out to or even interact with the company in question. Most companies usually have a customer care center or a call center offering such support. Equipped with modern contact center software solutions, these call centres generally have trained and well equipped agents who know exactly what is to be done and how to go about it. They are trained on how to handle clients, their innumerable queries and doubts and come up with solutions that fulfil the doubts. Now why is all this so important? The answer is pretty simple: the customer is the one who decides how successful the company is.

Now that we have dealt with the reasons why a customer is important, let’s go back to the basics of customer contact center software solutions. The thing that keeps a good customer care center running would have to be the agents and the managers who run it. Even if you’re talking about outsourcing your customer care to other call centers, you will still have to hire good help in order to make sure it all works out in your favour. The logic is pretty simple, really- the agents are the ones who directly interact with your clients. They are the ones who listen to your customers, understand their problems and come up with meaningful solutions. Thus, it can be safe to say that the one thing you cannot compromise on would be your agents. The better agents you get, the better customer care you provide.

Nowadays, a new concept is gaining ground rapidly: the rising popularity of home based agents. From the very name, you must have guessed what a home based agent is all about. The work from home culture is slowly gaining ground due to its numerous benefits and advantages. Nowadays, your agents wouldn’t even have to go to the call center in order to provide cloud contact center solutions. They can do so from the comfort of their own homes. The agents would be working with the customers and can help them out. That breaks down all kinds of geographical barriers! Also, think about how easy this will be on your pocket. You won’t have to spend too much on overhead costs or software costs. All you have to do is get hold of efficient agents who would be dedicated to the cause. Now there’s some growing concern regarding this development and how it’s replacing traditional customer service. But is it really that bad? You’re getting the same service at lower costs. But yes, you have to be more careful about who you hire.

Now that we’re talking about latest developments in the field of cloud customer service software, how can we leave out crowd-sourcing? However, this isn’t all that new. In fact, crowd-sourcing has been around for quite a while. If you’re not aware of this, read on to know more. You must have visited public forums in the past where customers interact and share opinions? Well, that’s crowd-sourcing for you! Now, the emergence of social media and the easy availability of the world wide web at our fingertips has really made it easier to partake in such discussions online. Who knows? You may even find an empathetic customer who’s been through what you’re going through and may be of help.

If you’re still not sure, we have provided you with a case study which would tell you how crowd-sourcing and home based agents really are the future of customer care. But before that, here are a few tips on how to inculcate these new technologies into your existing customer support –

Should you go for home based agents?

The answer is, increasingly, a resounding “Yes”.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) It provides flexibility for both sides

Introducing home based agents to your customer care workforce would make the whole system much more versatile and flexible. For example, your agents who would be working from their homes, will be able to choose their working hours. More than that, it makes life easier for them. So if you’re talking of work life balance, this is the job for you. When it comes to customers, this practice of using home based agents in the field of cloud based call center solutions would simply increase the ways in which the two parties can communicate. The home based agents are trained to handle all the different mediums of communication like phones, email, live chat and so on.

2) Better quality of agents

This one simply speaks for itself. The thing is, if you’re hiring agents who would be working from their homes, you’ll be needing people who are experienced and dedicated enough to do their work properly. This is really important since the agent managers cannot supervise them. That’s precisely why you should hire people whom you can trust. If you think the agents could be hoodwinking you, then that just defeats the whole purpose, isn’t it? Thus, the ordinary qualifications that you look for in an agent would not suffice here. You’ll be handpicking your agents in order to make sure you get nothing but the best.

3) Improved customer care

You see, in the field of call center software solutions, everything works like a chain reaction. Since your agents are working closely with your customers, you need to make sure the agents are empowered enough. It is not just about finding people who are great at their job, it is about finding people who enjoy what they do. If your agents are happy, your customers would be happy too. And one great way of ensuring agent satisfaction (and eventually customer satisfaction, of course), would be allowing them to work from home. This is a win win situation for everyone involved!

4) Create your virtual community

Say, for example, you have some 50 agents who are working under you in customer care from their homes. Does the thought of managing all these agents, all in different locations scattered across the globe, scare you? Well, don’t worry. The people who came up with the concept of home based or remote agents in the first place thought of this before you did. What you can do is create a kind of virtual community- a community of all your agents. That certainly inculcates a sense of belonging and makes them (and of course, you) feel like a part of the time. That would in turn increase productivity which can be helpful while dealing with customers.

5) Easier, and much more convenient

Have you thought about how this saves millions of dollars? You will not have to spend on old-world and CapEx heavy cloud contact center software, nor will have to spend on overhead costs. Since the agents would be working from their homes, the connectivity is entirely their responsibility. How great is that? Also, you do not have to go around looking for ideal locations to set up your call center. Everything you do and all actions you take will be in a virtual world. While that may seem daunting to you, it’s actually the best thing to have happened to your call center.

What is crowd-sourcing all about?

New to the concept of crowd-sourcing? Don’t worry.

The pointers below can help you out.

1) Creating a community

If you check out some of the official websites of the leading companies, especially the tech companies, you’ll see that there’s a special section dedicated entirely to such forums. Now any customer who has availed of the service or bought the product in question can sign in and participate in the discussions. If you’re facing troubles with the product you’ve purchased, or may be it is malfunctioning due to some unknown reasons, you could post about it in the forum and expect to get different opinions within a short period of time. That certainly increases the sense of belonging amidst customers.

2) The growing trend now

Crowd intelligence has been around for a while, but its presence has been felt so enormously only recently. People are constantly glued to their phones, reading new things, trying to understand how different things work, “Google it” if they’re facing problems, find solutions and so on. Today, people don’t even think twice before they “comment” or “like” or share their opinion about something. Why should they? It doesn’t require face to face communication! One can just sit behind a screen and pass comments from there. If the recent trends are anything to go by, you should know that the analysts have claimed that in the next ten years or so, traditional outbound call center software may be entirely replaced by crowd-sourcing software.

3) Managing your online community

If you’re planning to adopt crowd-sourcing too (given that this indeed is the future of the traditional outbound calling software) you must keep a few things in mind. You need to remember that managing your online community is one of the biggest tasks associated with crowd-sourcing. Ask yourself a few questions to have an idea of where you’re standing. What kind of a following do you have in the forum? Are you using different tools like outbound calling solution for data management or tools to manage relationships with customers when it comes to dealing with your online community? Are you keeping an eye on all the traffic on your forum and all that is posted?

A case study to help you out

Here’s the case study we promised to you, and the brand name is sure to get your attention. It would be your favourite coffee house. Yes, you guessed it right- Starbucks. Obviously, you do not need introduction to what Starbucks is or what the brand has achieved in the last few years. As a matter of fact, the Starbucks chain seems to get bigger and better. There are thousands of Starbucks outlets spread out throughout the world. When you’re running a corporation as large as this, it is expected that you would have an impeccable customer support system. Especially, since you’ll have to take into account all the customers in all the parts of the world. With great power and fame, comes great responsibility since you’ll have to live up to expectations. One tiny mistake on your part, and you might be in the news for the wrong reasons. And we all know, the internet never forgets.

In 2008, Starbucks came up with a mind boggling idea which has indeed played a key role in their success. They developed a sound social media marketing strategy and came up with a Starbucks crowdsourcing platform. It was simply called “My Starbucks Idea”. It gave Starbucks lovers a voice of their own and most importantly, they got a chance to speak up. They got a chance to interact directly with the Starbucks representatives and shared their ideas and opinions. Isn’t that a priceless experience for any customer?

In fact, Starbucks is claimed to be the first corporation to have adopted such a widespread social media engagement.

The final outcome

The benefits of Starbucks’ crowd-sourcing idea cannot even be explained! The company executives have gone on record to say that this was undoubtedly one of the best things to have happened to them. Given the brand’s immense popularity, it didn’t take much long for Starbucks to get the message across. In the very first year itself, at least 70,000 ideas were shared by the customers in the platforms. And that was eight years ago. As of now, at least 190,000 ideas are submitted there. That’s quite a number, isn’t it? And what is it that motivates the customers to share the idea? It’s the fact that there might be a chance of their ideas turning into a reality. Starbucks handpicks the ideas and chooses only the best of them to be implemented at their stores. Some of these ideas would include the famous Cake Pops, Skinny Mocha, any free drink every time you use a reusable cup and so on.

There are three factors which the members of the online community can share and talk about. They could comment and share opinions about the products, their experience at the store and the overall involvement. With the help of an online forum that’s always active, the customers get to interact with each other. They can vote for the ideas, comment on them and so on. So if there’s a particular idea Starbucks likes, they can check the reactions of the customers to see if it’ll actually work. One major benefit of this platform has been the plethora of free ideas. Any business, like Starbucks, is based on innovativeness and creativity. If the creative guys at Starbucks are stuck in a rut, they could always browse through the thousands of ideas in the platform. That’s something you could learn from too- there would never be a dearth of good ideas. And who knows, one of them might be just what you need to blow your customers away.

There you go, now you know the secret behind Starbucks’ success. But then again, this could be you, only if you manage to play your cards right. If you’ve been proclaiming to use the best telemarketing software at your call centers and how that gives you the best customer care, you need to pause, and take a good look around. The world has moved on and so should you. You need to embrace the “new” and leave behind the old. It’s time you realized that the future of contact center solutions is here, all you have to do is imbibe it. So what are you waiting for?

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