What Is the Difference Between Dedicated and Shared Agents in BPO?

When planning a BPO engagement for customer support, it's important to select the right type of agents within your budget. Two categories to consider are shared and dedicated agents. Understanding their unique qualities will aid decision-making and shape your outsourcing plan.
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Planning a business process outsourcing (BPO) engagement for customer support requires you to choose which types of agents you need and can afford to pay.  

You read that right. There are different kinds of third-party call center and contact center agents.

They are categorized into two: shared and dedicated. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial, especially for businesses new to outsourcing. Such insights inform your decision-making and guide the development of your outsourcing plan.

Let us help clear up the confusion by detailing the distinct qualities of dedicated versus shared agents below.

Dedicated Versus Shared Agents: Basic Concepts

Dedicated customer service representatives (CSRs) work exclusively for a single client or account. As an extra set of hands, these workers focus on quickly and effectively addressing your customers’ needs. You hire them to discuss your brand, promote it, and resolve issues regarding your products or services.

Meanwhile, shared agents handle multiple clients or accounts simultaneously. They provide consumer support services for all brands their employers serve. Unlike dedicated CSRs, shared BPO agents are trained to adapt to different work strategies, policies, and procedures.

Dedicated Versus Shared Agents: Key Benefits

Many transactions now occur online. Customer service has become a key differentiator for buyers and businesses. Recent statistics show that over 60% of consumers have higher customer service standards after the pandemic. They demand quick, easy, and effective support.

Hence, you must decide whether a shared or dedicated agent can help you better meet such expectations. Note how these agents deliver different benefits to your business. 

Save on Operating Expenses

Dedicated and shared agents can deliver substantial cost savings, ranging from 50% to 90%, as you only pay for their services hourly or upon task completion. However, due to their exclusive client focus, dedicated CSRs tend to be pricier than shared BPO agents. Here’s why:

  • They possess greater skills and experience, warranting higher wages commensurate with their expertise.
  • Training is necessary to acquaint them with your brand, products, and services.
  • A more robust and comprehensive infrastructure is required to optimize their workflow.
  • Incentives must be provided to ensure consistent and excellent performance.

Nonetheless, dedicated agents offer long-term cost savings while delivering high-quality and personalized services, especially if your intention is to sustain support operations for an extended period. On the other hand, opting for shared CSRs leads to more immediate cost reductions, as they demand less training and specialized knowledge to provide cost-effective customer support.

Achieve Fast Inquiry Responses

Utilizing a third-party customer support team, regardless of the agent model chosen, can lead to swift responses to a substantial volume of customer inquiries. Both dedicated and shared agents employ scripts to streamline their verbal and non-verbal responses. However, their speed in responding to customers varies in the following ways:

  • Dedicated CSRs concentrate solely on serving the customers of their single client, resulting in quicker response times for urgent and high-priority matters. They possess in-depth knowledge of their client’s products and services, enabling them to promptly address related issues.
  • Shared agents handle multiple customers simultaneously and have a more general understanding of various business offerings. Consequently, their response times are slightly longer, as they may need to search for specific information to provide accurate answers.

Optimize Advanced Technology

As you explore what a BPO call center or contact center is, you might encounter advanced technology optimized for customer support. This aspect is where dedicated and shared agents meet. They use the latest solutions below to efficiently support customers:

  • Omnichannel communication and collaboration tools
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • Knowledge management systems
  • Automated ticketing platforms
  • Data analytics and reporting tools
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions
  • Robotic process automation (RPA)

Acquire Flexible and Scalable Operations

Dedicated and shared agents differ in flexibility and scalability due to their varied service levels. See the table below for a more straightforward comparison. 

Dedicated Versus Shared Agents: Flexibility and Scalability

Dedicated BPO Agents

Shared BPO Agents

  • Offer less flexibility due to a single-client priority. 
  • Slow to adapt to sudden changes in the client’s requirements, market trends, and demands outside their comfort zone.
  • Provide a high level of service customization and specialization. 
  • Suitable for clients with complex or unique processes.
  • Less scalable as they need to undergo rigorous brand familiarity and work strategy training.
  • Offer more flexibility as they handle multiple clients. 
  • Can quickly adapt to changes in client requirements, industry shifts, and demands outside their comfort zone.
  • Provide a lower level of service customization and specialization. 
  • Deliver a more generalized service that meets the needs of multiple clients.
  • Highly scalable as they can be quickly onboarded and deployed to handle new accounts.

Dedicated Versus Shared Agents: Major Drawbacks

Quality control remains the top issue when learning what BPO is and the drawbacks of hiring dedicated or shared agents. You likely do not have complete control over quality because you entrust your customer service to a third party. 

Despite that, employing dedicated agents still gives you more control over the quality of customer service. You dictate what you want them to deliver because they focus on your brand. Meanwhile, shared agents work for multiple clients, making it difficult to ensure consistent service quality. 

Working with third-party agents also poses cybersecurity risks as transactions occur remotely. In 2021 alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received nearly 24,000 complaints related to technical support fraud worldwide. So anticipate possible breaches and hacking incidents if you do not select the right provider. 

Dedicated Versus Shared Agents: Deciding Factors

Hiring dedicated or shared agents involves weighing the pros and cons, with several factors influencing the choice. The following considerations aid in determining the most suitable type of CSR to align with your business objectives and strategies.

  • Business Challenges: Dedicated agents excel when dealing with intricate processes, especially those requiring third-level tech support. For simpler customer service tasks, shared CSRs are a more appropriate choice.
  • Project Requirements: Dedicated agents are the clear preference if your account necessitates customization and a high degree of specialization. Conversely, shared CSRs offer a cost-effective solution for straightforward and standardized functions.
  • Budget Allocations: Dedicated agents require a larger budget to deliver brand-focused and customer-centric support services. Businesses with limited financial resources often opt for shared CSRs.
  • Scalability Options: Dedicated agents require more time to become acquainted with your brand, resulting in extended onboarding and deployment periods. Shared CSRs can efficiently manage multiple clients and adapt to fluctuating demands.
  • Workforce Skills: Dedicated agents undergo training to handle complex and specialized customer service processes, whereas shared CSRs possess a more generalized skill set.
  • Service Costs: Both dedicated and shared agents deliver cost savings, but their service charges differ due to variations in expertise.
  • Quality Assurance Strategies: Dedicated agents assure higher quality by exclusively prioritizing your brand. Shared agents may encounter challenges in maintaining consistent service quality across multiple clients.

Which Services Model Is Best for Your Business?

After identifying and understanding the benefits, drawbacks, and deciding factors, choosing between dedicated and shared agents still depends on your current needs. 

For instance, shared agents are your best choice if your business requires third-party support to affordably meet urgent customer demands during the holiday season. Otherwise, employ dedicated agents if you want high-quality consumer support for a year or two. 

But whatever type of agent you select, emphasize an optimum customer experience to achieve high satisfaction ratings. According to recent statistics from Emplifi, 17% of polled buyers abandon a purchase due to a poor customer experience. So ensure you hire the best talent to meet your business and customer demands.

The Bottom Line

Your BPO journey starts with hiring support agents capable of adapting to your changing enterprise and consumer needs. So knowing the difference between dedicated and shared agents is crucial.

From cost savings to security risks, you must understand how hiring dedicated or shared CSRs benefits and negatively impacts your business. You must also take note of the various factors before finalizing your decision. Such insights help you draft a concrete BPO budget and action plan for continued growth. 

Do you already have an agent type in mind? Let’s connect; Unity Communications has a well-rounded team consisting of highly trained and scalable CSRs. Their diverse skill sets help provide cost-effective, high-quality customer service. 

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Joyce Ann Danieles is an SEO content writer from Manila, Philippines. She’s comfortable writing outsourcing-focused articles, helping you clarify the confusing concepts surrounding the BPO industry. With her experience in news writing and copywriting, she’s always ready to feed your brain with random facts and creative insights.   Outside work, Joyce explores the world of literature. She tries to write fiction she hopes to share with everyone someday.
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Joyce Ann Danieles

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