The Rise of the Home Agent
Depending on the complexity of your technology environment and the demands of your customers, using work-at-home agents can have its advantages and disadvantages. As technology advancements like VOIP and cloud computing lower operational costs, it is worth a second look to see if utilizing home agents makes sense for your organization. You won’t be alone if you decide to employ home agents – Forrester Research estimates that 63 million Americans will be working from home next year.
Here are just a few things to consider when employing remote, work-at-home agents.
ADVANTAGES of Remote Agents
- Retain Quality Agents – if a loyal employee decides to move away, you have the option to retain them and make use of their talents and expertise remotely.
- Flexible Shift Coverage – remote agents can cover short shifts and/or split shifts more easily, instead of having them coming into the office for a short period of time. If you can’t afford to have an employee on for a full shift, you can cut costs by using shorter shifts; and when agents have a busy period and are overwhelmed with calls, they can engage a home agent to help cover peak hours.
- Preparing for the Unexpected – when weather conditions prohibit travel, employees who have remote capabilities are able to work from home. Remote agents have the option to work from the comfort of their own home if they are sick, instead of coming into the office and potentially infecting co-workers.
- Reduces Space Limitations – home agents eliminate physical requirements like space, cubicles, and office furniture.
DISADVANTAGES of Using Remote Agents
- Unreliable Internet – sometimes remote stations are unavailable when there are Internet issues at the office. This is unavoidable, but does cause a problem during busy times.
- Communication Challenges – remote stations can be harder to communicate with. Chat is great, but it can be difficult to monitor chat while taking calls. Action items can be missed and/or miscommunicated.
- Remote Limitations – home agents can be limited as to what customers they can handle. Personal Distractions – when working at home, the personal environment can distract from providing a transparent, professional image (i.e., kids, dogs barking, door bell ringing, etc.).
- Training Challenges – training and monitoring a remote operator can be more difficult. It can be harder to explain certain circumstances without being able to use a hands-on approach to coaching, particularly in real time.
Whether or not you are utilizing remote agents and employees today, or planning on employing work-at-home agents, what are your own personal experiences and thoughts about utilizing home agents in your own organization?