July 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 2
Agent at Home: More Than Wearing Slippers To Work
By Brad Schorer,
Agent at home" is more than a new buzz phrase or job title that takes business casual dress to an extreme level. Instead, it is becoming a key asset in the contact center industry that is increasing overall contact center performance, agent productivity, and enhancing hiring options for the industry. "Agent at home" technologies usually include an advanced ACD capability to route calls to the right agent, web-based or thin client software, and flexible telephony infrastructure such as VoIP or SIP. These technologies enable a contact center worker to perform their duties from anyplace that has a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.
There are many common examples where "agent at home" is a key asset to the contact center:
Retaining knowledge workers. These are employees that have a specialized skill or experience set that can be retained and given a more flexible working arrangement using "agent at home" technologies. Nurses, support experts, veterans, stay-at-home moms and semi-retired people are all examples of knowledge workers who can provide their expertise to the contact center and retain a flexible schedule while working from home .
Overflow and seasonal peak volumes. During anticipated high volume call periods, these employees can be used to handle the increased call volumes without actually being in the contact center. Non-contact center employees or outsourced agents using "agent at home" technologies can be deployed quickly to augment the contact center during high volume periods.
Disaster recovery. "Agent at home" can play a central role in disaster recovery plans by ensuring that contact center agents can still perform their duties from any location that has high-speed Internet connectivity.
Regardless of the exact use of "agent at home" technologies, there are some significant benefits to be gained through their use:
Retain talent. Knowledge workers are difficult to replace; the costs associated with ramping a new employee to have the knowledge and experience of a departing employee are significant. By enabling a knowledge worker to have more flexibility in their schedule and work environment, companies are able to better retain valuable human capital.
Reduce capital expenditure. By using "agents at home," contact centers need only to invest in a contact center that is sized to handle the average expected volumes and use the other employees or outsourced agents from home to supplement the center during peak times.
Increased customer satisfaction. Contact centers using "agents at home" are more likely to enable their callers to speak with an agent who is best able to handle the call. Intelligent routing technology enables the contact center to connect callers with appropriate knowledge workers and thereby provide an efficient and effective customer experience.
Lower overhead costs. Because agents using "agent at home" are not in the actual contact center the size, climate control and power use of that center are all reduced.
"Agent at home" technologies are more than a new convenience; they will change the way contact centers operate and the way businesses use them. Contact center personnel and agents will become less concentrated in specific locations but will be spread throughout the organization. There will be fewer contact center generalists and more specialists. This trend mirrors the knowledge worker revolution in the business world as a whole as described by the famous management consultant and professor, Peter Drucker. More calls will be routed to the most appropriate specialist and fewer to the first available generalist, enabling callers to get a better call experience. The technologies that are today called "agent at home" will be the prime driver of this revolutionary change. CiS
About VoltDelta Hosted Solutions
VoltDelta Hosted Solutions provides contact centers of all types with access to leading edge technologies including agent at home solutions, speech automation, IVR, ACD, VoIP transport, multi-modal messaging and outbound alerts on the per-minute used model. To learn more, please visit http://www.voltdelta.com/voltdelta-hosted-solutions.