Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big Brother Goes Home

DMG Consulting has released Call Center At-Home Agent Best Practices, a white paper that says call center folks who work at home deliver significant cost savings, greater flexibility, a deep, diverse and qualified labor pool, and reduced staff churn for call centers. Other cited benefits include less absenteeism, increased productivity, and enhanced customer satisfaction. It’s not easy managing the unseen, says the report, which suggests detailed operating policies for at-home agents, a three-month trial for the remote location, daily communication between supervisors and at-home personnel, chat for handling most agent inquiries, remote agent participation in team meetings and training, special incentives and team building activities, and lots of online training and coaching. Data security, of course, is a concern. Premise-based call centers routinely prohibit agents access to pen and paper, for example—obviously more difficult to control at home. A growing number of companies are using unplanned site visits to monitor at-home behavior. Other centers record 100 percent of at-home agent calls and screens and/or assign a remote supervisor to live-monitor the agent. Working at home is a dream for many people—retirees, parents with children, the disabled, people in remote locations, etc.—and, thus, one solution to changing times. Expect trade-offs.

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