Court Ruling Paves the Way for More At-Home Call Center Agents

A federal appeals court decision handed down Friday opens the doors for a whole new segment of at-home call center agents.

Recruiting at-home agents from all over the country - including rural areas? This decision makes it possible.

Recruiting at-home agents from all over the country – including rural areas? This decision makes it possible.

The decision allows the FCC to move forward with converting its $4.5 billion program subsidizing telephone service in rural areas to one that subsidizes high-speed internet. The appeals court upheld the agency’s Connect America fund, which had faced opposition from dozens of phone companies that stand to lose subsidies.

For call centers, the decision is a major victory. Companies that rely on at-home call center agents or hope to move in that direction will face fewer technological barriers and have a greater pool of workers from which to choose.

The decision is also a win for technology in general. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn told the New York Times that the reforms will change the lives of millions of Americans who will have access to broadband for the first time.

Benefits of At-Home Call Center Agents

Companies are increasingly embracing the idea of at-home call center agents due to the cost savings and productivity gains.

At-home call center agents are typically contractors, so there are no benefits to pay. Even if the agents are employees, the at-home model leads to reduced overhead costs. In-house agents cost an average of $31 per hour, according to IDC Consulting, while at-home agents cost an average of $21 per hour.


Studies show at-home call center agents are actually more productive than office-based workers.

Surprisingly, studies have shown that at-home workers are actually more productive than their office-based counterparts. There are many theories as to why, but it may come down to the fact that home-based employees are simply happier. They have more flexible schedules, greater autonomy and a better work/life balance.

Other benefits of the at-home model include:

  • Lower turnover – A TelCoa study showed that attrition declined from 53 percent to 39 percent with at-home call center agents.
  • Lower absentee rates – The same study identified a drop is absenteeism from 18 percent to 7 percent.
  • Access to a more educated workforce – With an at-home model, call centers can tap into a wider network of employees from a variety of geographic locations. Hire educated people who otherwise would not be able to take the job, perhaps because of location or because they’re stay-at-home parents or retirees.
  • Improved customer service – Simply put, happier employees provide better customer service.

Making the Shift to At-Home Call Center Agents

Forrester’s 2013 Outlook for Contact Center Plans report noted significant growth in at-home call center agents. Some 34 percent of companies had plans to invest in home-based operations, according to analyst Elizabeth Herrall.

Today, some of the nation’s largest companies have gone this route. These include Amazon, Jet Blue, AT&T and Citibank, to name just a few.

In order to shift to an at-home model, whether partially or completely, your call center software must be cloud-based. Obviously, the model doesn’t work unless agents have full access to the tools and resources used by in-house staff, including customer records. Supervisors also need remote access to features like call monitoring, which cloud-based call center software provides.

With the right cloud-based call center software, however, transitioning to an at-home model can be seamless.

Learn how Kunnect can help you, why not get in touch with us? >>>Contact us

How Much Does Call Center Software Cost?

Customer Service

Most companies are hesitant to share the cost of call center software on their websites. They’d rather you fill out a contact form, talk to a member of the sales team and view a live demo before the cost is revealed.

In many ways, that’s understandable. Pricing is based on a number of different factors, including the quality of the product and its features. Call center software providers want you to understand the benefits of their products before making a judgment solely on price.

At Kunnect, our philosophy is different. We believe in being upfront about pricing. Our hosted call center software costs $125 per agent per month with a deposit of $125 per agent. The price is all-inclusive without hidden fees. In addition to our customer service, we think that straightforward pricing is one of our best selling points.

Understanding the Cost of Call Center Software

Among all hosted vendors, the cost of call center software ranges from about $50-$300 per agent per month, although most prices fall closer to the $100-$200 range. For customers, this begs the questions: “Why the wide variations in price?” and “What am I getting for the money?”

On the low end of the spectrum, you’re almost certainly dealing with hidden fees. Some companies try to entice business customers with a low per-agent price that doesn’t include telecom. The telecom may be billed by the minute, which makes it difficult to predict what your actual monthly cost will be.

Often, the customer ends up paying more when telecom is billed by the minute. Let’s say your agents are on the phone an average of 8,000 minutes a month, which is fairly standard. If the per-minute rate is just 1 cent – the low end of the spectrum – that’s an extra $80 per month. Add that to the per-agent price, and now your $50 monthly service costs $130.

Other Hidden Fees That Increase the Cost of Call Center Software

Hidden fees don’t end with telecom. Some companies charge additional monthly fees for standard features such as call recording, interactive voice response (IVRs) and automatic call distributors (ACDs). At $10-$15 a month per agent for each feature, the total cost quickly escalates.

At Kunnect, all of those features and more – including predictive dialing – are included for $125 per month. Our licenses are concurrent, meaning multiple agents can share a license if they work different shifts. The plan in month-to-month, so no long-term commitment is required.

We’re not suggesting that it’s never OK to go with a company that has an a la carte approach to the cost of call center software. The key is to read the fine print to understand all the associated fees and costs. If your call volume is low, an a la carte approach could be a reasonable solution. If volume is high or you anticipate growth, all-inclusive pricing is probably a better way to manage the cost of call center software.

Choosing a Hosted Call Center Vendor 

The cost of call center software is an important consideration, of course, but it shouldn’t be the only factor in selecting a vendor. Also consider:

    • How reliable is the customer support? What are the average hold times to reach a live agent? Are agents available 24/7?
    • Does the software integrate with your current systems? The cost of call center software means very little if the software doesn’t seamlessly integrate with your existing CRM and back office systems.
    • Can the software be customized? Different companies have different call center needs. Does the vendor offer the flexibility of customized solutions?
    • Is the software user friendly? Call center software is only as valuable as your employees’ ability to use it properly and take full advantage of the features. Always “try it” before you buy.
Learn how Kunnect can help you, why not get in touch with us? >>>Contact us