In the U.S today, millions of employees work from home part-time or full-time, either on a regular basis or occasionally. This increasingly popular trend of telecommuting has migrated into the world of customer support. The CSR (News
) (customer service representative) you are calling may not be in a busy corporate call center, but in her home, miles away from company operations.
This at-home agent model shift is happening for good reason. There has been a recent consumer backlash about call center offshoring and companies who are leveraging overseas agents. Another challenge to call centers is the need to efficiently staff for call peaks, early mornings and late nights. Call centers must continually strive to keep costs as low as possible, without letting services suffer.
Home based CSR’s provide reduced costs and more flexibility for meeting customer demands. After hours calls, query overflow and seasonal spikes can be handled by at-home agents for less than typical call center staffing costs. What’s more, the highly motivated agents are more productive and companies experience lower attrition rates (which remains a huge problem for call centers) when employees are happy. All of this saves money for the call center operations.
Obtaining the tools needed to work from home has become more accessible and affordable. Technologies such as broadband, multimedia routing
engines, hosted call centers and teleconferencing make home based customer support easy on support provider and employee alike. “An Internet connection, a PC, and a phone, and they can be up and running,” says Stephen Loynd, a program manager at IDC (News
Many companies have come on board with home based agents. Jet Blue began its customer service operations about seven years ago with 48 reps working from home. Today Jet Blue employs about 1,400 agents, of which 1,100 work from home. The CRM industry is also taking note. IDC forecasts that the number of U.S at-home agents will grow from an estimated 112,000 in 2005 to over 300,000 by 2010. “The companies themselves are looking for an alternative to the way they provide customer service, which drives more profitable revenue, but drives it at a much lower cost,” says Angie Selden, CEO at WillowCSN, a virtual call center provider.
So whether you manage a call center, or you are working as a call support representative expect to see more about this emerging work force in the future. Some third party companies that are presently providing at-home call center services are: Alpine Express, Convergys, ICT Group, LiveOps (News
), Sitel, VIPdesk, West, WillowCSN, and Working Solutions.
Free trial versions of the Novo Help Desk Software, Knowledge Base Software, Asset Management Software and suite of web-based Customer Support Solutions are available. Contact http://www.novosolutions.com
for more information.
Anne Sych is Marketing Manager for Novo Solutions, Inc., an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, specializing in Customer Support.