Call Center Management Feature Article
August 06, 2014
Call Centers Thrive with Virtual Agents
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The traditional call center agent had a work life that varied little from that of his or her counterparts. The desk, phone and cubicle setup was pretty standard, upset only by the introduction of the headset and computer. Call center management took on a slightly more interesting approach, but agents were still housed in the same location, following a streamlined plan.
This plan took a new turn when the virtual agent came into play. Technology advanced to the point that agents could work from remote locations – even their own home – and call center management gained new complexity. Supervisors no longer had all eyes on the workforce and reliance on the cloud became part of the overarching strategy.
There are a number of benefits to working from home, especially for the call center agent. While it does introduce a new level of trust between the employer and the employee, it also eliminates the confines of the geographical territory when it comes to finding qualified agents. The proven professional with years of experience no longer needs to work within driving distance of the targeted call center.
A recent Monet Software blog highlighted the benefits associated with the virtual agent strategy, as well as the advancements in technology that make this possible. For instance, homes with high speed Internet connections need only to access the right security measures to get started on managing calls. Reporting has to be adjusted to include the necessary KPIs to measure virtual agent activity, and scheduling is easier as agents working from home have more flexibility.
The cloud really comes in handy when it comes to actively managing the virtual call center agent. These professionals are not accustomed to punching a physical time clock. No one is checking to see if they are sitting at their desk or dressed appropriately for the day. What call center management does care about, however, is whether or not the agent is logged into the call center system and ready to take calls when scheduled.
Virtual systems often leverage the cloud to allow agents to easily login to the backend of the system through a browser window. In doing so, they easily gain access to the tools they need to manage calls, the same tools visible to call center management and agents working in the physical center. It allows for call routing according to availability and provides a common portal for easy communication.
While the virtual agent strategy has proven effective for a number of companies, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to customer care. Take the time to review the technology you need to support this strategy and then assess whether or not management is ready for the change.