Stu Carty – Senior Vice President, Enterprise Sales for North America.
As Semafone continues expanding our business and working with many of the larger call centers in North America, we have been hearing from more and more companies that they are using a combination of both traditional, centralized call center offices and remote agents, such as outsourced or home office workers. By leveraging remote agents, many companies are finding that they can expand their call center operations or add staff more quickly and easily.
Using current telephony networks and secure VPN access to applications and payment gateways, remote call center agents can service customers in a way that is virtually identical to agents located in a centralized contact center. Businesses have clearly started to recognize the benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, if workers with compatible jobs and the desire to work from home did so just half the time, a typical business would save $11,000 per person, per year. Within the contact center space specifically, Destination CRM reports that roughly 80 percent of U.S. businesses employ some work-at-home agents. Moreover, the research firm Ovum predicts the work-at-home agent pool will reach 160,000 employees by the end of 2017. This represents a growth rate of 17.5 percent – approximately twice the rate expected for the brick-and-mortar contact center outsourcing market!
One of our North America based clients has found that the cost of adding remote agents was far less than the average cost for adding office-based staff. This company was able to save money on both office space as well as expensive employee parking spaces. They are also able to more easily adjust for “seasonality” during the calendar year as the call center portion of the business increases or decreases during holidays, promotions and other time-based events.
Even with all the benefits remote agents can bring to a business, they can also expose the business to a new set of security issues. Right now, you may be thinking that you “only hire good people” so you don’t need to worry about home office or outsourced agents stealing credit card numbers or other sensitive customer data – correct?
While this may be true, every business must still prepare for the unexpected. Another company we work with made its own internal video to help demonstrate the many different ways that remote agents can expose the company to greater risk. The video showed a home office agent taking a call, politely servicing a customer and repeating back the caller’s name, address and credit card numbers. Unbeknown to the agent, their housemate was listening nearby and secretly writing down the information, planning to use the credit card information for his own nefarious purposes!
Businesses must be diligent in protecting their remote agents and customers’ sensitive data. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and call center security measures must extend to the home office, as well as outsourced call centers. If you use an outsourced call center, you have probably asked and they have probably told you that they are “PCI compliant.” But this doesn’t mean that you, the merchant, are not liable if a data breach happens in your outsourced call center.
Semafone secures your entire telephony network. We can help secure ALL your agents – home office, outsourced and centralized – and ensure that your customers’ sensitive data is protected.