August 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 3
Agent at Home: Behind the Buzz-Word
By Joshua Shale
Let's explore how "Agent at Home" technologies positively impact contact centers:
Empowering the Knowledge Worker: The influential management consultant and self described "social ecologist", Peter Drucker, described employees that work with information or develop, convey and use knowledge as "Knowledge Workers." "Agent at Home" technologies underscore Drucker's notion by efficiently routing calls to the most appropriate person to handle it along with all of the technological infrastructure required to support the worker.
Maximizing the efficiency of outsourcing: Outsourcing plays an important role in contact center functions but it has not always maximized efficiency. By leveraging "Agent at Home" technologies contact centers can better route calls to off-shore or near-shore facilities and even to the most appropriate person in the corporate office seamlessly. While many calls can be completely outsourced some are best handled by an internal technician or specialist that would not be in a contact center. Alternatively, work at home agents can also be used to staff seasonal or overflow work with minimal support required after the initial training period.
Managing peak volumes: Almost all contact centers experience peak volumes and have strategies for managing them. "Agent at Home" technologies are an excellent way to route calls along with the back-end systems to any position available to take the call be it in an outsourced overflow center, a secondary location or a non-CSR position assisting.
Disaster recovery: Every business maintains a Business Continuity Plan to be implemented in emergencies to keep the business running and contact centers are at the forefront. Using "Agent at Home" technologies would enable an affected contact center to seamlessly route calls, and the systems to respond to them, to any location or locations with high-speed Internet access. Even if the contact center did not use "Agent at Home" technologies to disperse their contact representatives as part of the normal course of business, it could still be effectively used in disaster recovery situations.
Thriving in tough economic seas: Gas prices are changing the dynamics of workers willingness to commute; currency exchange rates are changing traditional thinking about near-shore and off-shore outsourcing and workers with high skill levels attract new job opportunities. Contact centers must face all of these issues and "Agent at Home" technologies can help address them all. By letting agents literally work from home they save on their gasoline expenses and increase their retention rates. By enabling seamless redirection of call traffic to more economically viable centers, the economic impact of currency changes is reduced. "Agents at Home" provide flexibility and efficiency that help address any economic challenge.
"Agent at Home" is, therefore, an important concept for today's contact centers and it will only become more important over time. By enabling the distribution of the roles and responsibilities commonly handled in the contact center throughout the entire organization and it's out source partners, businesses can service their callers more effectively and at the same time better manage costs and risks.
VoltDelta Hosted Solutions provides contact centers of all types access to leading edge technologies including speech automation, IVR, ACD, VoIP transport, multi-modal messaging and outbound alerts on the per-minute used model. To learn more please go to http://www.voltdelta.com/voltdelta-hosted-solutions. Come visit us at Booth #214 at Call Center 2.0 in Los Angeles (http://www.callcenter20.com).