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

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Written by Joyce Ann Danieles


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 agent or a dedicated agent can help you better meet such expectations. Note how these agents deliver different benefits to your business. 

Save on Operating Expenses

Both dedicated and shared agents offer between 50% and 90% cost savings, as you only need to pay for their services hourly or after task completion. But given their single-client nature, dedicated CSRs are more costly than shared BPO agents because: 

  • They are more skilled and experienced, so their wages should match their expertise;
  • You must train them to become familiar with your brand, products, and services;
  • They need a more robust and comprehensive infrastructure to streamline their work; and
  • You must provide incentives to motivate their consistently excellent performance. 

However, dedicated agents ensure long-term cost savings with high-quality and personalized services, especially if you want to maintain support operations for over a year. On the other hand, employing shared CSRs offers more cost reduction. They require less training and specialized knowledge to provide cost-effective customer support.

Achieve Fast Inquiry Responses

Regardless of the agent model, tapping into a third-party customer support team helps deliver accelerated responses to massive customer inquiries. Dedicated and shared agents use scripts to streamline their voice and non-voice replies. They differ in consumer response speed in the following ways:

  • Dedicated CSRs focus on their single client’s customers, while shared agents need to handle multiple buyers simultaneously. Hence, their consumer response times differ depending on urgency and priority.
  • Dedicated agents deeply understand their clients’ products and services, which allows them to immediately address related problems. Conversely, shared CSRs have a general knowledge of various business offerings. They take longer to respond as they must search for the correct information.

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 either dedicated or shared agents has advantages and disadvantages; picking the best option depends on several elements. The following factors help you decide which types of CSRs to choose, ensuring alignment with your business goals and strategies. 

  • Business Challenges: Dedicated agents are your best option for addressing complex processes such as those on the third tech support level. Shared CSRs are more suitable for more straightforward customer service tasks.
  • Project Requirements: If your account needs customization and high specialization, do not hesitate to hire dedicated agents. However, shared CSRs offer more cost-efficiency for simple and standardized functions.
  • Budget Allocations: As discussed, dedicated agents demand more funds to ensure brand-focused and customer-centric support services. So businesses with a limited budget tend to opt for shared CSRs.
  • Scalability Options: Dedicated agents need sufficient time to become familiar with your brand, prolonging their onboarding and actual work deployment. Shared CSRs can handle multiple clients and scale up or down based on current demands. 
  • Workforce Skills: Dedicated agents train to manage complex and specialized customer service processes, whereas shared CSRs have a more generalized skill set. 
  • Service Costs: Both dedicated and shared agents offer cost savings, but their service charges differ because of their level of expertise. 
  • Quality Assurance Strategies: Dedicated agents guarantee higher quality assurance as they only prioritize your brand. Shared agents may struggle to maintain 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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Author - Joyce

About The Author

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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