At-Home Agents Are Strategic Assets

 

While skeptics still abound, the at-home agent concept is now firmly planted as a viable staffing model for contact centers. As one senior business leader put it, “It’s a win, win, win, win, win situation!”:

Win 1: Agents have more flexibility, no longer need to commute, and can be located anywhere;
Win 2: Managers are no longer limited to an employment basin around their brick and mortar center;
Win 3: Workforce managers have greatly increased flexibility in scheduling – especially for call peaks;
Win 4: Customers win, because they get the best talent to take care of their needs;
Win 5: Shareholders win, since these agents can provide lower cost per call minute (= savings).

Research shows that overall, at-home agents are more reliable and more mature. They often have higher education levels and/or real-life experiences that help in the performance of their duties, and are generally more available to fill-in and work shifts that might otherwise be considered hard to cover in the traditional brick and mortar center. Most impressively, however, is that at-home agents deliver a higher quality of work and receive higher customer satisfaction scores than their brick and mortar counterparts. Companies considering the use of at-home agents may find the following areas of cost savings and operations optimization compelling:

  • Reduced overhead costs, since at-home agents free up corporate real estate and resources.
  • Agent technologies: many companies establish a requirement that agents must have and maintain a certain quality computer and telephone system.
  • Business continuity – at-home agent can continue to answer calls even though a power failure may temporarily shut down the operations of brick and mortar center
  • Expanded hours of service

At-home agents represent a wonderful opportunity, but require proper recruiting, training and management to succeed. They have the same need to feel engaged as agents of the brick and mortar center, which can be a challenge. Keep agents engaged through contests and participation amongst in-house and at-home agents. Include at-home agents in team meetings and team building activities. Engage them into the quality initiatives and other activities of the company. Do not think of at-home agents as merely cost savers. Think of them as strategic assets helping you deliver superior customer service to your customers at a more affordable price.

This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb from a CallTalk episode with Dee Buell. To listen to the entire episode click here: A Fresh Look at the At-Home Agent Concept

Read another CallTalk Caramel on At-Home Agents: Click Here: Initiating an At-Home Agent Policy

calltalk-caramelsTip of the Day: Use your at-home agent program as part of your agent retention program. Just because the spouse of an agent is required to make a change of residence due to job demands is no longer a reason to lose a good agent. Convert that person to your at-home program; you will be appreciated for it.

CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore. “Caramels” distills “Aha!” moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional. 

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