There is a growing trend by call centers to transition, in whole or in part, to using home-based agents (HBA). The management of home-based agents, however, requires skills not commonly used in the traditional center. Understanding these skills can lead to increased agent productivity and an ROI to the center. When using home-based agents, give special consideration to the following key points:
- Recruiting (internal) – When offering the opportunity to work at home to your in-house agents, pick from those agents that are in the meat of your productivity bell curve; use top agents as the role model.
- Agents will become incentivized as they are empowered to work within an environment they control – their home – and thus perform better.
- Recruiting (external) – When advertising for agents, do your best to dispel preconceived notions. In general, the terms “home-based” are associated with get rich quick scams and therefore most people distrust the ads – even when from reputable companies.
- Motivation – Since home-based agents are away from the business centers of the company, keep agents connected to the company; give them a sense of belonging. This may be accomplished through well planned orientations, virtual meetings & training, fun contests and more.
- Quality Monitoring – Be consistent and measure quality with the same yardstick used for the evaluation of in-house agents.
- Training – What works in the office may not work at home. Re-define training strategies to address training issues felt by work at home agents. Train managers and supervisors on how to become effective managers of a home-based workforce.
- Workforce Management – Be definitive in terms of time in attendance, breaks, and the differences in what constitutes a work environment from a home environment.
- In-source vs. outsource – There are a number of very qualified companies dedicated to the staffing and management of at-home agents. Before developing a distributed workforce, figure out the option that works best for you.
- ROI – The return on investment for your HBA program is realized through increased flexibility and utilization, decreased absenteeism, increased attendance and availability, increased agent to manager ratio and no facility costs.
Tip of the Week: “Your access to diversity is infinitely better in a home-based agent network because you allow for a level of freedom and flexibility that you just don’t get in a call center.”
CallTalk™ Caramels: Sweet Snippets from BenchmarkPortal’s Best CallTalk Episodes
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb. It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Steve Silver, who grew an HBA program for Apple from an 80-agent pilot to 1,000 in one year. Click below to listen to this show:
CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore. “Caramels” distills “Aha!” moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.