Call Center Keeps Costs Low and Spirits High with Disabled Home Agents
January 07, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
, TMCnet Contributor
Let’s face it, call centers can sometimes find difficulty in reeling in high-quality employees. This is because for many, the work is repetitive, tiresome and simply a stop-gap measure until a better job comes along. This is particularly important in outbound call center work, which tends to be even more high pressure and requires more soft skills than inbound work. While many call centers find they can keep turnover down by hiring older, more fixed workers, many more are discovering that by using home agents, they can keep turnover even lower, therefore, translating the call center into a virtual environment is rapidly gaining prominence in the space.
Home agents are very different from brick-and-mortar agents; they tend to be older and more educated, and they generally have more responsibilities, which makes them less likely to fleet from one job to another. A virtual call center position can appeal to many such as work-at-home moms, but in many cases, home agent work is well suited to disabled Americans who wish to pursue a career but because of physical limitations, find it hard to travel to an office.
Many call center companies and analysts call it “in-sourcing,” or “on-shoring” – the opposite of sending calls to a foreign nation to save costs. Home-based agents save money because they require no facilities to work in, which helps eliminate the overhead from a physical structure. In many ways, it can be a win-win situation.
Smart call center companies have found a way to cultivate high-quality employees in disabled persons. One of them is Direct Interactions, an outsourced call center provider that hires Americans and veterans with disabilities, enabling them to work from home. To recruit agents, Direct Interactions partners with the Wounded Warrior Project, based in Washington DC, as well as Hire America’s Heroes, a Seattle-based nonprofit. Direct Interactions provides outsourced customer service, technical support and lead verification services for companies nationwide. As an employer of people with disabilities, Direct Interactions takes pride in what they do.
Building a home agent force, of course, requires a robust, cloud-based call center platform that allows agents to work from anywhere they choose (provided they have the simplicities of a high-speed Internet connection and a headset). Direct Interactions found such a solution in 8x8 (News - Alert), Inc. and its Virtual Contact Center product.
8x8 Virtual Contact Center is a hosted call center solution designed to boost agent productivity and provide flexible call center management at lower cost than traditional call center solutions. The 8x8 Virtual Contact Center works with 8x8 Virtual Office VoIP phone service to provide organizations with an easy-to-use yet feature-rich contact center. With the implementation, Direct Interactions was able to bring all their home-based agents into a virtual call center environment.
“Since 8x8 Virtual Contact Center is easily adapted for people with disabilities, it makes it easy for us to hire them,” explained Jonas Nicholson, CEO of Direct Interactions, in a case study. “As a result, we can recruit from a large labor pool of hardworking and technically savvy people—which is one of our secret sauces for success! When people lose a particular skill or ability, they compensate by getting better at other things. We find that people with limited mobility excel in using technology. They are motivated to work really hard and make great employees.”
According to Nicholson, the disabled employee/home-based agent model has led to significantly reduced turnover and absenteeism – far lower than the industry average. It also reduces the costs of agent training, quality assurance and management.
“Our focus on hiring people with disabilities has been a winning strategy for us and our clients,” concludes Nicholson.
To learn more about 8x8’s call center offerings, visit www.8x8.com.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo