Home agent call centers have proliferated as hosted software and SaaS (News - Alert) platforms have developed compliant and reliable solutions. The result has been a gradual acceptance of the home agent as an alternative to the physical customer service office. With the ability to harness a geographically diffuse and demographically varied workforce businesses can now have agents that are not only better trained but more available than in a brick and mortar option. For BPO’s like TeleTech (News - Alert), home agents are the future. TMCnet had an opportunity to talk with customer experience management leader TeleTech at this year’s Call Center Week in Las Vegas.
Offered via software or hosted portal, the TeleTech solution grants outsourced home agent “call centers” in a virtual workforce or hub style setup. TeleTech takes care of training with ongoing seminars designed to keep agents up to date and engaged in their work and is constantly recruiting to make sure that the workforce available meets the needs of their customers.
At this year’s Call Center week, home agent methodology was on many of the exhibitor’s agendas. Once taboo, the home agent option is now viewed as a way to give customer service strategies a distinct advantage over office style operations. These include round the clock scheduling, the ability to find more qualified agents and the virtual elimination of office operation costs.
While hubs have traditionally been the setup of choice, the advantages of a fully virtualized workforce have distinct advantage over a locally centralized approach. As P.J. Weyforth-Drummond, senior vice president of Operations at TeleTech, told TMCnet, “With a hub model you end up getting the same demographic as you would in a brick and mortar operation. Generally ages 20-25 with less education. In an at home setup we’ve seen you generally have access to a more diverse workforce, Many are 35-40 with college education looking for ways to augment income. The hope is that this is a demographic that can manage themselves rather than require constant hand holding.”
Ensuring home agents are as skilled and willing to perform as those in the office is incredibly important to businesses that have decided to adopt a home based agent model. Sacrificing control is a difficult prospect for any operation, but the TeleTech solution's training services ensure that any agents being used in a company’s outsourcing strategy will far exceed expectations.
”The tools have really changed over the last several years so you can make an immense platform for your agents. They can be written materials, videos, test a whole host of things that allow for more complex training. And our approach is asynchronous so it on their time, whenever they want to do it. On top of that there are a couple days where they come in for the virtual classroom, they can interact with the instructor and the other agents being trained,” Wyforth-Drummon said. Perhaps most importantly the instructor can see everything attendees are doing on the back end, so just like in real case attendees can get busted when they’re not paying attention.
While this customer experience management company also offers on-demand software platforms that can get a call center quickly setup, its mastery of the BPO realm is its most significant contribution to the industry. By providing businesses access to well trained on-shore agents the home based customer service trend isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.
Chris DiMarco is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow him on Twitter @cpdimarco.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin