In the shadow of the 2017 Remote Working Summit taking place in Dallas this week, the opportunities for virtual customer experience delivery have never been more opportunistic for contact center outsourcers. The desire for affordable onshore solutions that provide high-value quality is pervasive across developed economies. However, with data protection understandably at the forefront of enterprise concerns, vendors need to up their game in order to remain relevant in this market. Only by exceeding client expectations around security can outsourcers reasonably anticipate strong work-at-home growth.
Work-at-home agents have come a long way in their level of acceptance over the past fifteen years. At the turn of the millennium, this business model was in its infancy, but started to gain favor with forward-looking CRM managers, who were eager to leverage new ways of delivering front-line interactions. In fact, over the years, home-based agents quickly became a mainstream way of doing business in the retail sector, due to the ability to ramp up and down quickly in face of seasonality. This is in addition to the business model’s other strong points, which include higher degrees of agent education levels, workforce stability and the capacity of home-based representatives to work seamlessly across channels.
Obviously, there have been concerns related to agents working from home, many of which have been exorcised over time (such as worries around household distractions, remote coaching and virtual team-building). However, to use a cliché, what has become ‘the elephant in the room’ when it comes to the use of work-at-home agents is the issue of security. This is no surprise, given what seems to be exponential growth in consumer data thefts. Some industry observers are of the belief that it is security concerns among enterprise decision-makers in compliance-heavy sectors that are holding back the work-at-home model from realizing its full potential. Thus, the onus will be on the part of vendors to change the required minds.
To be fair, the vendors of work-at-home customer services have been proactive in developing robust security solutions; no doubt this will be an ongoing topic of discussion at the meetings in Dallas this week. One angle that is especially interesting in this regard is the use of secure desktops for work-at-home agents. Denver-based technology firm Dizzion has been especially active on this front, having developed a PCI and HIPAA compliant proprietary system in which home-based agents can remotely access only the required applications and data they need to perform their roles. Such technology innovations will go far in reassuring even the most skeptical of compliance officers about the evolution of security in the work-at-home environment.
There can be no question that any remote working solution will come under significant scrutiny, regardless of vertical or location. However, by presenting realistic, proactive security provisions that go the extra mile to reduce the chance of data theft, vendors will be well-placed to win new business using the work-at-home solutions. The key will be to ensure optimal development resources internally, or by working with the right technology partner.