Skip to main content

Disruptive innovation

Prepare your business for home-based agents working in South African BPO

As a growing offshore destination, South Africa has much to offer the contact centre industry. Now, as migration to the cloud becomes a sink-or-swim factor, the opportunities for expansion and growth are endless.

These days a brick-and-mortar building with agents doing inbound and outbound “contact” does not define a contact centre. A contact centre is defined by the heartbeat and lifeline of its existence – its people. We’re moving into the age of the conversation cloud – conversations that can take place from anywhere at any time.

At ZaiLab we believe process, technology and investment are empty if they do not serve people at every level – customer, agent and organisation alike. Therefore, we believe in the home-based agent model: it allows us to upscale employment opportunities and increases quality of life for agents while providing significant cost and efficiency gains to businesses.

Imagine easily operating a contact centre with thousands of remote agents across the world – all from a dashboard at home. This is the now and the future of the industry.

Are there any contact centres using this model?

When ZaiLab was started, we asked ourselves many questions on who and what we would like to
be in the industry. We looked around and realised that so much needed to be done in terms on innovative solutions that make life easier for all stakeholders involved.
Our mission was not to get into the operational management of these centres but more to make the digital transformation in the industry seamless and inexpensive for everyone. We knew from day one that we wanted to provide a cloud-based solution that offers an all-in-package which is affordable for even the smallest guy who only dreams of opening a contact centre.

Furthermore, we wanted to grow the industry by not increasing the number of seats on one floor in one location but rather to decentralise and have agents working from the comfort of their own homes, an exploration into the world of the virtual contact centre. This means lesser traveling costs, more productivity and less infrastructure setup and running costs for the company.

In 2016 we implemented our first trial of the home agent model with one of our clients (Ask Osca) and the results exceeded our expectations. AskOsca is an online coaching, business consulting and business recruitment process outsourcing services locally and internationally. They currently employ home-based agents who are based in Cape Town who service the international market. Our journey with AskOsca has been an affirmation of the success of this model using ZaiConversations and proof that agents who work from home have higher productivity levels.

IT is key:

Infrastructure is critical to the adoption of the home-based model. The other key factor is the quality of the cloud-based solution itself. If you’d like to grow a remote workforce, you must consider the following criteria:

  • Your agents must have a PC or laptop and a headset as a bare minimum.
  • Your software provider must have efficient IT support systems in place.
  • Your agents must have access to high-speed Internet – preferably fibre.
  • The software must be intuitive and it must offer a unified omnichannel workspace to minimise task-switching.
  • The software must allow you to monitor and mentor agents in real time from anywhere.


The protection of business information in a decentralised setup is another mission-critical factor affecting adoption.

With Zai Conversations, only the members of an organisation have access to content and interaction histories. Access control is enforced in both the user interface and the backend system. The software infrastructure is hosted and secured by Amazon Web Services, and data such as call recordings are encrypted.

About ZaiLab

Zailab is a software- and hardware development house based in Cape Town. The company is bent on creating a cloud-based contact centre solution purpose-built for rewarding conversations. In 2016 ZaiLab received the Sub-Saharan Africa Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership.