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Article : Do Home Agents Really Work?

The popularity of home based agents is gaining momentum and may one day serve as the alternative to outsourcing. But the views on the effectiveness of home-based agents are still mixed with skepticism. Will in-house agents ever be replaced with a network of agents working from home? Industry experts share their views.

Janet Lum
B.C. Government
Canada

"In some cases yes. From a government perspective, once an agent is set up from home - they tend to have increased performance, the downside is that they miss out on the 'team' environment. So as long as they get into the office 1 or more day(s) a week to connnect with their colleagues, get updates, take training, teleworking is a great alternative and also meets the government green agenda."

 
Christine Corelli
President
Christine Corelli & Associates Inc.
United States

"It is difficult to find home based employees who have a strong work ethic. In addition, working in a team environment is critical."

 
Tammy Self
Director
Allstate Insurance
United States

"I think if you have the right people in place, the answer is absolutely. I also think it is important however, to have scheduled meetings in a centralized location, face to face, to encourage team spirit and maintain an extended level of professionalism."

About Allstate Insurance

The Allstate Corporation is a large publicly held personal lines insurer in the United States. Allstate was founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and was spun off in 1993.
 
David Oldham
Vice President, Marketing
NICE inContact
United States

"Yes, very much so. There are many advantages IF you have a system that makes deployment easy and makes agent management possible. Home agents are typically more mature and more educated, will work different hours and can be more flexible with their schedules, can effectively make more $$ (gas, food, clothing savings, no commute times, more comfortable work environment), and are less likely to quit. Security, costs, and connectivity have typically been obstacles preventing contact centers from deploying an at-home agent model but modern technology is quickly making these concerns a non-issue."

About NICE inContact

NICE inContact works with organizations of all sizes to create customer experiences that create deeper brand loyalty and relationships that last. With NICE inContact CXoneTM, a cloud customer experien... (read more)
 
Dave Kielkucki
Consultant
SCC Services Group
United States

"At Home Agent Networks bring many benefits to companies. The ability to build a "flexible" organization through the utilization of a team of At Home Agents is cost effective and also gives call center organizations a business continuity solution without the need to build a second "brick and mortar" facility. Today's contact center technology offerings allows for easy management of this agent population. In today's world of $4.00 plus for a gallon of gasoline, companies can offer an At Home Agent solution to their current workforce which can be a determining factor of an agent leaving the company to find work closer to home."

About SCC Services Group

In today’s competitive business environment, contact center and marketing professionals are constantly challenged to manage a growing business, achieve superior performance levels and at times are ask... (read more)
 
Nancy Massey
Director, Client Services
Yellow Pages Group
Canada

"Yes, the success is dependant on the consistent monitoring of performance. Agents should have clear set performance objectives. Abusers should be put on performance improvement plans and target deadline to meet the goal should be set."

About Yellow Pages Group

Yellow Pages Group (YPG) is a Canadian directory publisher. YPG published its first directory in 1908.
 
Keith Kreuz
Business Analyst
NICE inContact
United States

"Of course home agents work, it is clear from statistical studies that home agents tend to be happier and more productive. Using home agents also allows contact centers to recruit a more diverse workforce from a wider geographical territory."

About NICE inContact

NICE inContact works with organizations of all sizes to create customer experiences that create deeper brand loyalty and relationships that last. With NICE inContact CXoneTM, a cloud customer experien... (read more)
 
Martin Kaczynski
Business Architect
Royal Bank
Canada

"Yes. Our analysis has shown that they are more productive and satisfied. E.g. tracking call handle times and sat surveys. We are in the process of deploying an IP Contact Center."

About Royal Bank

The Royal Bank of Canada serves seventeen million clients and has 80,100 employees worldwide. The company's primary corporate offices are located in Toronto, Ontario, while it is officially headquarte... (read more)
 
Tara Smith
Senior Manager, Call Center Operations
American Academy of Dermatology
United States

"I don't have any at home agents at the moment and would have to look at what the need for one would be. I feel that if it is a situation where it is part time and it is project specific (i.e. set of collection efforts), then I think that is fine."

 
Anupam Govil
Ceo
Avasant
United States

"Various surveys have demonstrated that at-home agents are just as productive as their on-site counterparts and in some cases they actually had higher productivity. According to a recent survey by Five9 Inc (see graph below), only 15% said that at-home agents were less productive. Questions of productivity for home-based agents clearly have a subjective aspect. There is usually a strong perception on the part of senior management that home-based agents are not as productive as on-site employees. Remote agents need to be managed as if they are in a virtual call center by using collaborative and other communications tools. Regular web conferences along with call-monitoring software can ensure that they are truly an integrated workforce and can deliver the right quality and productivity. Finding quality agents is a major challenge as face-to-face interviews may not always be possible. So hiring managers need to be able to assess skills via a phone interview and ensure that agents have access to reliable broadband connections as well as hardware/software needed to handle the work in a secure and private environment. The primary issues limiting the growth of the at-home agent trend seem to be concerns about the remote management of people and their environment. Call center decision-makers should therefore look carefully at monitoring and recording tools that can address these concerns. As the home-based agent model becomes more widespread, these tools will continue to improve and new ones will come to market. Clearly some success stories like Jetblue and others have made Home-based agents a viable option especially when seeking high-touch customer service."

About Avasant

Avasant is a global management consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles and advises private and public sectors in many parts of the world.
 
Kevin Milewski
Product Marketing Manager
Veriato
United States

"Don't know, but our software (SpectorSoft, www.SpectorCC.com) can monitor ALL home agent activities on the computer and the Internet."

 
John Torres
Sr. Vice President
American Stock Transfer & Trust
United States

"An agent working from home will only exaggerate their work ethic that is displayed in the office. A good agent, will worker more; while a relaxed agent will work less."

About American Stock Transfer & Trust

American Stock Transfer and Trust Company is a large independent stock transfer agent in the United States.
 
David Sawicki
President
Voice Teleservices
United States

"NO. THERE'S NO OTHER MASS MEDIA CHANNEL THAT ALLOWS FOR REAL TIME INTERACTIONS WITH THE SAME LEVEL OF INTIMACY THAT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO BUILDING AND MANAGING A RELATIONSHIP"

 

About ContactCenterWorld:
Company LogoContactCenterWorld is The Global Association for Contact Center & Customer Engagement Best Practices. Today we have over 205,000 corporate 'individual' members have joined the association's website 'ContactCenterWorld.com'. We were established in 1999.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Real-Time Information Solutions

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Thursday, July 23, 2009

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