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How to meet mandatory service levels is a problem that dogs even the most efficient contact center operations. More bricks and mortar, or more outsourcing contracts, or more of both, were the traditional routes taken when service levels were not met. If ever there was a problem that needed new options, this was it.

Then there came the wonderful idea of distributing labor (and calls) more efficiently by using a remote agent workforce. The enlightened theory being that, because they don’t have to commute, remote agents theoretically work shorter, more precisely scheduled shifts on a more immediate, as-needed basis. The result, a more flexible workforce that is far more capable of adapting to the fluctuations of the daily call flow and the maintenance of service levels.

Will Going Remote Help?
Of course, like all ideas, a remote agent program means very little unless it is implemented successfully. And while there have been some great corporate successes, there have also been failures. Gartner research found 60 percent of all companies attempting to build a home-based solution will fail.

The truth is, it’s not easy for a corporation to go it alone with their own remote agents. A high performing remote program ultimately demands the development of a sophisticated, multi-layered business model, plus a commitment to a lot of extra planning, infrastructure, investment and time.
And that’s why more corporations that want their own remote agent workforce now have the option to adopt a turnkey solution as offered by a new breed of service provider – the remote agent service provider.

Enter The Remote Agent Service Provider
Just as an application service provider delivers on-demand software over a network, a remote agent service provider delivers on-demand technology and remote agents over a network.

LiveXchange is the primary example of a remote agent service provider. The company offers a quick implementation (eight weeks on average) of an end-to-end solution that “remote enables” a client’s customer care operations with an on-demand remote agent workforce.

The pay-as-you-go service provides all the necessary remote technology, infrastructure and business processes. Plus, the LiveXchange offering also provides access to ContractXchange.com, a unique online recruitment Web site where client corporations post contracts, can view an inventory of certified remote agent applicants and then directly contract them through the portal.

The service provider model offered by LiveXchange is one of the most efficient, cost-effective means of adopting and utilizing remote agents, it may also be the most compatible for corporations that wish to directly manage their agents as opposed to moving to an outsourced model.

If so, it may be that the remote agent service provider is the future route for corporations wishing to solve their service level challenges.

How Well Does It Work?
According to current client corporations that use the LiveXchange remote solution, going remote has provided some extraordinary results.

The clients of LiveXchange can be found in many different business sectors including energy retailers, quick food service chains, television shopping channels, retail chains and road service associations. And all of them have a great imperative to maintain their service levels throughout the often wildly swinging call volumes that are inherent to their businesses.
Here are a few indicators of their success so far:

An automobile roadside association:

• Service exceeding 80/30
• Average cost per calls reduced by 40 percent
• Remote agent calls to increase to 60 percent in 2008

A major energy service provider

• 80/30 service levels achieved
• 84 to 86 percent CSAT quality scores are higher than in-house
• 25 percent cost reduction

A major retailer:

• Hard-to-fill timeslots now better staffed
• Remote agents now answering 50 percent of order calls
• Quality scores for these remote agents slightly exceed “in-house” agents (score of 95.8 percent)
• Cost per call has been reduced

Given the level of these results, perhaps it is time to think new and review the advantages of a service provider supplied, self-run remote agent program. It may take you to a whole new level.

Visit LiveXchange at www.livexchange.com.

A Shift In What “Outsourcing” Means To Business Today

Traditionally, the reason many companies have chosen to move to an outsourced contact center model was that staffing and running a contact center took too much time and effort and distracted the company from its core business. This remains a driving factor, but in these days of demands on a business to keep costs down, many companies are facing the prospect of offshore outsourcing without much enthusiasm: for good reason. Most consumers are wary of foreign call center support, either because they've had a bad experience with poor communication, or they've read about jobs going offshore and disapprove of the concept. The other bit of conventional wisdom that customer-facing businesses are coping with today is that, in these days of service commoditization, customer relationships can be ruined in an instant — all it takes is one bad call — and, therefore, quality is more important today than it has ever been in the past.

So what's a company to do?

The home agent model has been positioned as an alternative to offshore outsourcing. Without the need to pay for capital expenses like building facilities, the outsourced home agent model passes along substantial savings. But outsourcing is not for everyone. Many companies would like to maintain more control over their contact center programs. Remote agent service providers have been the answer for many companies that wish to take advantage of the cost advantages of home agents without the need to outsource their entire contact center. What does the model provide? Access to trained, professional home-based agents who can be brought online in an instant to cope with daily, weekly or seasonally variable call spikes, which virtually eliminates the waste inherent in overstaffing.

Quality, cost-effective contact center solutions and extreme scalability: all without substantial time, training and upfront cost outlays by a business. In other words, the best of ALL worlds.

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