Call Center Operations

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June 23, 2011

How to Ensure that Call Center Operations Remain Efficient Even When Working Remotely

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

If you have at-home agent programs you know what some of the advantages are. They can be a cost-effective way to scale a business, for one thing, and pretty low on your overhead expenses. But still, yours may be one of the many companies which struggle with effectively managing a remote workforce and guaranteeing that all call center operations are successful.

Granted, it is harder to manage people who aren’t in the same room with you. One vendor, Knowlagent, understands the problems call center operations have when managing remote workforces, and is looking to make it easier to expand your workforce beyond the brick and mortar enterprise, by keeping remote agents “connected to the core business and their team while outside the center walls,” company officials say.

What are the issues remote call center operations usually run into? Some of them are efficiently handling the time at-home agents spend reading internal communications, completing research, project work, coaching sessions and ongoing training. Knowlagent understands this, and provides both agents and supervisors with the processes and tools they need to effectively manage performance from a distance.

In order to be successful, Knowlagent officials say, contact center management must schedule time for agents both on and off the phone. “There’s no way around it – agents will have to spend time off the phone to handle such shrinkage activities as administrative tasks, review of key updates and policies, one-on-one coaching, ongoing training and more.”

That much is accepted. The trick is how shrinkage activities are managed. That’s what can make a large impact on the bottom line. Pulling call center agents off the phone – even for small projects, or for crucial reasons like learning about new policies and procedures is inefficient. With this method, the downside is that management has to compensate by paying for more agents to be on the floor.

Knowlagent manages the collective idle time in the call center by turning downtime into active wait time. This means creating activity queues with a prioritized and personalized to-do list for each agent, and pinpointing and delivering active wait times when the small pockets of time occur between customer interactions.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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