On-Demand Contact Centers: The Next Big Disruption

June 14, 2022
The image contrasts a traditional call center with a happy remote agent, illustrating the shift to on-demand contact centers.

How did we get here?

We’ve come a long way since the first call centers were established in the 1960s. The advent of technologies such as Private Automated Business Exchanges (PABX) and Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) gave pioneering companies like the Birmingham Press and Mail and Continental Airlines the ability to handle multiple customer contacts simultaneously. This allowed for incoming phone calls to be automatically routed to rows of trained telephone agents who would handle customer inquiries and sales. 

These early adopters set the stage for the call center industry as we know it today – a multi-billion dollar industry that is still growing at a compound annual growth rate of close to 15% and is projected to reach close to 70 Billion by 2028.

Today, traditional call centers have evolved into mega-contact centers that handle customer contacts from a variety of channels (chat, text, call, social, etc.). They play a vital role in many businesses by handling customer service, sales, and other mission-critical customer interactions. These omnichannel contact centers can be the first interaction points between a company and its customers, and the impression their agents make can have huge implications on a company’s success or failure. But the industry is bloated.

Two current options - BPO or CCaaS

Currently, it is commonplace for companies to either run their own call center solutions in-house or to turn to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) organizations to outsource their entire inbound or outbound contact center operations. But both options have their issues.

BPO call centers are attractive because they are often located in countries with lower labor costs, such as the Philippines, India, and Mexico and BPOs are “in the business” of handling calls. In theory, the BPOs pass along savings to their customers by leveraging these vast low-cost labor pools. 

In reality, BPOs are constantly under fire for fostering poor working conditions and providing low wages to their workers, while adding layers of infrastructure and management that only add more costs to the ‘solution’ as they are passed through. Additionally, the loss of control that companies feel by working with BPOs creates a perpetual source of friction between the two organizations. 

Businesses that are uncomfortable with outsourcing employ a do-it-yourself (DIY) or “in-house” model. These companies essentially believe that they can do a better job handling the customer experience by running their own contact center solutions. This, in turn, has spawned a whole new industry of SaaS providers that help businesses leverage technology to run their in-house operations in what is now called Contact Center as a Service or CCaaS. Although this puts the client completely in control of their contact center outcomes, it also exposes them to the large risks and costs of growing, managing, and staffing their contact centers independently. 

The tension created by either outsourcing or doing it all in-house put companies in between a proverbial rock and a hard place: either they gave up control of the customer experience by working with BPOs, or they had to wrestle with the high cost to do it all on their own with a DIY solution – neither was ideal. 

The rise of gig economies

The rise of the gig economy has been a game-changer for businesses everywhere. In the past, companies would rely on full-time employees to get work done. However, that’s no longer the only option. Now, businesses can tap into a vast pool of talent by working with freelancers. This allows them to get the work done they need without having to commit to full-time employees. 

There are a few key benefits to this arrangement. First, it’s more cost-effective. Companies don’t have to pay for benefits or overhead costs associated with full-time employees as gig workers are considered independent contractors. Second, it’s more flexible. Businesses can scale up or down as needed, without having to worry about layoffs. Finally, it gives businesses access to a wider range of talent. They can find experts from all over the world to work on specific projects. Simply put, the gig economy is more cost-effective, flexible, and gives businesses access to a wider range of talent. 

In fact, very few industries seem immune to the disruptive benefits of moving towards gig workers, and the gig economy is now revolutionizing how call centers operate. Thus, a new option has emerged for businesses looking to handle their contact center requirements, and the rise of the on-demand contact center that utilizes gig-based workers to handle customer experience or “GigCX”, is now upon us.

Introducing the next big disruption: The on-demand contact center

On-demand call centers are a new type of customer contact center that allows businesses to route and manage customer interactions using an on-demand, or cloud-based, platform. This type of center is unique, in that it brings businesses the flexibility to route calls and other customer interactions to the most appropriate agent, regardless of location, and to scale up or down (elasticity) as needed. 

In utilizing on-demand contact centers, clients are either matched with or find their own fully trained and experienced independent contractor agents. Clients operate on a pay-as-you-go system, which means businesses only pay for the resources they use. This type of pricing model is also beneficial for businesses that have customer service needs that often fluctuate due to the time of day, month, or year. 

In essence, the on-demand solution gives clients the best of all worlds: on one hand, it allows businesses to maintain control of the customer experience by keeping the training and success metrics in-house. On the other hand, it allows businesses to grow by utilizing a scalable or elastic gig-based workforce that is not on their direct payroll. Control and scalability all in one solution, that’s GigCX in a nutshell.

In summary, there are several factors driving the growth of the on-demand contact center market: these include the need for cost-effective solutions, the ever-expanding trust and reliance on gig-based workers, the increasing adoption of cloud-based systems, and the growing demand for flexible customer support solutions.

At Agents Only, we are big believers that on-demand contact centers that leverage the GigCX model will be the future of how contact centers operate. In fact, we have built an entire platform supporting this belief! Contact us to see how we achieve superior customer experience results at a lower cost for our clients.

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