The Home-Based Agent (HBA) continues to gain popularity within the contact center industry for compelling reasons of:
- Improved workforce management flexibility
In the area of costs, centers often have part-time at-home staffing, which suits the employee and reduces benefit costs to the company. Some centers pay by-the-minute, which can result in substantial savings. The element of convenience is clear, and related to the improved workforce management capabilities that come with being able to pull in additional agents to handle surge volumes without waiting for people to commute into work.
However, an HBA program requires careful thought. This Caramel sets out just some of the items to keep in mind when initiating an at-home policy. Consider areas of impact, including how other teams and departments will need to interact with your HBA group. Challenges and advantages to consider include:
- Employee orientation and culture: as remote agents are not on campus, sharing the culture of the company and gearing their mindset to company goals takes extra training, materials and activities that involve remote agents with their on-premise colleagues.
- Deploying technology and training: these must be adaptable to meet the needs of a non-classroom environment.
- Communications is a key factor in keeping people engaged. Team managers need to have specialized training on how to conduct effective virtual meetings and coaching sessions.
- Increased employee satisfaction due to quality of life: most HBA’s enjoy working at home because they have more control of their environment and their family life.
- Scheduling: employers have found a greater pool of flexible employees who are available to work weekends and even during holidays.
- Higher levels of agent utilization and schedule adherence: research shows the HBA’s are more prone to work harder during work times than their counterparts in the brick and mortar center.
Clearly HBA’s provide an opportunity to expand the pool of recruiting candidates; hiring is no longer limited to a fixed geographic location.
Consider students as HBAs! Research shared by Apple from its HBA program showed that hiring college students was not only cost effective, but college students delivered higher rates of first call resolution and customer satisfaction. Other factors in their success were:
- Greater flexibility in scheduling
- Higher levels of utilization and schedule adherence
- Lower average handle time
- Adept at the use of technology
- Higher training scores
- Lower cost per agent and cost per minute (32% lower than best performing on-shore and off-shore models; below $.45/minute)
Through home-based agents, it becomes possible to hire people who are enthusiasts and have a passion that relates to your service or product. You break loose from your immediate “employment basin” and can find talent where it’s to be found. As a manager, there is a lot to love here!
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb from a CallTalk episode with Steve Silver, entitled “At Home Agents – 2”. To listen to the entire episode click on this link: At-Home Agents Part 2
Read another CallTalk Caramel on At-Home Agents Here: At-Home Agents are Strategic Assets/
Tip of the Day: When hiring home-based agents, hire people that demonstrate the ability to work independently. Candidates should be able to provide examples of how they have worked independently and achieved good results.
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.