Contact Center Managers Embrace Home Agents As Smart Move

Propelled by the adoption of IP telephony, more contact center managers are getting serious about ramping up their home agent program. Many pilots for home agents are now expanding into larger agent populations and compelling companies to take a closer look at its benefits and risks. Forrester’s 2010 survey of contact center decision makers found that 35% of companies had plans for expanding their home agent program during the next 12 months.

I think to successfully augment contact center operations with home based agents you need to take the proper precautionary steps to ensure a secure environment for both workers’ and customers’ data, have adequate help desk support available during all shifts and establish clear guidelines for managers of remote agents. Forrester clients with home agents report positive benefits, such as improving their recruitment opportunities, attracting higher educated and more experienced workers, and lowering their absenteeism and attrition rates. However, there are also concerns regarding the management of home agents, such as more time troubleshooting for PC problems and less visibility on their after call work activities. I believe these factors can be reduced by appointing a virtual support team to supervise remote agents and providing them with easy access during working hours to subject matter and technical experts who can deliver immediate support for the more complex issues.

Additional benefits for creating a virtual contact center include lower infrastructure costs, improved business continuity and a lower carbon footprint, as agents no longer need to commute. But the most significant benefit is having a dedicated, experienced workforce capable of working independently without visual supervision. This all begins with sound hiring practices and clear performance guidelines. With a large pool of potential employees who want to work flexible shifts from their home, I predict this trend will continue and will redefine how most companies view their contact center operations. Let me know what experiences or problems you have encountered with engaging home agents in your contact center.

Comments

Virtual Contact Center Agents

Elizabeth,
You are spot on. NTI manages over 600 virtual contact center agents at 10 client sites throughout the US. Over the years the interesting thing we've learned is managing VCCA's is very similar to managing brick-n-mortar agents. Its measure, measure again and measure one more time.

Everything at NTI is done virtually: Recruiting, Training, Placement and ongoing management. The real key is finding the right people who are capable of working remotely. An effective recruiting and hiring process will consider whether the applicant possesses not only the skills and capabilities agents need, but also the appropriate attitude towards and comfort with working from home. Working in an “office of one” contrasts substantially with working in an office of 10-1000.

Virtual agents can reduce a company’s carbon footprint, infrastructure costs and increase job satisfaction. But it only works when you have the right people.

Great blog and keep up the good work.
Regards,
Alan Hubbard

"Green" as a decision driver for home agents

When I was researching a marketing white paper about home agents for a client in 2008, I thought I would find environmental benefits as the main driver. I was surprised how often other issues were more important for decision makers.

One company deployed home agents for the safety of its employees. Otherwise the late-shift staff had to commute to the inner city at night. Another company needed highly specialized agent skills, and they had hired all they could find in their metro region. Hiring without regard to location opened up a larger candidate pool.

They all acknowledged the "green" aspect of using home agents. The positive environmental effects are irrefutable.

The white paper outlines how to calculate carbon and energy savings per agent.
http://support.avaya.com/css/P8/documents/003969180 ("Go Green with Home Agents")

Denis
P5 Group - Seattle

any ideas on call center with

any ideas on call center with home based operations handle agent training?