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Call Center Trends: Home Agents

TMCnews Featured Article


April 08, 2008

Call Center Trends: Home Agents

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor


One of the hottest trends in the call center market today is home agents. Using home agents, which collectively make up a virtual call center, customer-facing organizations can operate more efficiently and serve clients more effectively while staying within budget.

 
There are a variety of benefits associated with using home agents. One is the ability to “follow the sun” by establishing call center agents in different time zones. There is no need to build physical centers in every time zone; instead, agents can work from home or any location with Internet and phone connection, providing top-notch customer service around the clock.
 
More and more people in the workforce are seeking positions that allow them to telecommute some or all of the time. Since technology is enabling this way of working, it can be hard for call centers to find the best agents if they’re not able to provide telecommuting options. Recruiting experienced and loyal agents often requires looking beyond the commute distance of a call center’s physical office.
 
Call centers that set up virtual operations using home agents also save money on real estate and operational costs associated with maintaining brick-and-morter offices. Instead of spending time on call center implementation and deployment, organizations can put resources into recruiting and training agents.
 
It is no longer prohibitively expensive or complicated to set up a virtual call center using home agents. Agents do not need specialized hardware or software; they can simply log into the system from their home PC and start making and receiving customer calls.
 
It’s also no longer problematic to monitor and manage a distributed workforce. That’s because modern call center software for home agents tracks metrics in real time, allowing manager to keep tabs on the entire workforce.
 
Successful operations using home agents requires simplicity in the software used, a concentration on basics rather than features that require advanced training, transparent metrics and monitoring, compatibility with typical home networks, thin client architecture, ongoing training, and uncomplicated telephony.
 
Staying in touch with home agents also is, obviously, important. This goes beyond merely monitoring real-time metrics. Daily or weekly conference calls should be part of the management tasks associated with running a distributed workforce. Online chat can be a very efficient way to help agents get the information they need to effectively serve customers. Internal chat rooms can be set up for this and other purposes. Also, an intranet site with knowledge databases and bulletin board information is indispensable.
 
Home agents are becoming more popular for a reason. To learn more benefits of distributed workforces for call centers, please visit the Call Center, Contact Center Software and Virtual Call Center channels on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Contactual (News - Alert).
 
Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.







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