Today, when a consumer calls a company to buy a product, report a problem or request service, that call is being taken by an agent who more than likely is not sitting in a brick-and-mortar contact center, rather, that agent is wearing sweats and slippers while sitting in the comfort of their own home.
There is an “at-home” agent revolution going on in the contact center industry, and for very good reasons. Cloud technology is opening new doors for at-home agents. Expensive hardware and complex systems are no longer required to set up a home agent, just a headset, a computer and an Internet connection.
Cloud technology has given contact centers far more flexibility and control, including the ability to hire top quality agents, without geographical restrictions, and sometimes for less money. We are seeing contact centers adding work-at-home agents to save money without sacrificing customer experience quality, and in many cases getting the best of both worlds: better customer experience, lower costs.
Advocates such as NexRep have led the way, establishing successful programs and processes that validate the advantages of deploying at-home agents. There are numerous benefits to leveraging an at-home agent program, including:
- Significant cost savings
- Greater flexibility
- Larger pool of agents to hire from
- Reduced staff churn
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
- Reduced absenteeism
- Greater productivity
These benefits would be nearly impossible for a traditional contact center to accomplish without making significant operational changes. The concept of employing at-home agents is a cultural shift that can be difficult for contact centers to digest, but contact centers must evolve to take advantage of the benefits new technologies enable.
The Huffington Post published an article discussing how airlines can better serve customers during inclement weather conditions by using cloud-enabled at-home agents. This past winter, severe storms forced airlines to delay thousands of flights, and as a result, their contact centers experienced a huge influx of calls. Additionally, many airline customer service agents could not get to work because of the weather conditions. This created a shortage of agents resulting in long wait times and a horrible customer experience. In the article, the Huffington Post suggested a network of home-based, geographically diverse agents could solve much of this problem, with the added benefit of scaling the number of agents needed based on call volume.
Deploying a successful at-home agent program requires empowering agents through trust and technology. Many companies have found great success in at-home agent business models. For example, NexRep, a sales-driven call center specializing in direct response marketing for businesses, has doubled revenues every year with their at-home agent model. Because NexRep uses 100 percent at-home agents, located in 35+ US states, they are able to hire highly qualified agents to serve specific niche markets.
The cloud has disrupted the way contact centers are run by enabling businesses to implement changes that save money, increase efficiency, improve customer satisfaction and reduce pain points.
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