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Article : Increasing Efficiency, Improving Productivity: Advantages Of Virtual Contact Centers

As virtual contact centers gain in popularity, the improved capabilities of a home-based workforce are coming to the forefront – managers in virtually every market are embracing benefits like expanded labor pools, advanced language and other skill sets and 24 x7 coverage.

The possibility of hiring individuals in virtually any market, as well as being able to hire unique skills and certifications or specific work experiences can be an exciting concept for recruiters. Staffing for short-term peak periods (holidays) and the ability to accommodate short-notice and flexible scheduling are added human resource benefits of homesourcing.

Traditional contact center operations, on the other hand, are riddled with staffing complexities. Most contact centers face the challenge of handling fluctuating holiday patterns, unforeseen spikes in call volume and ongoing scheduling challenges due to unplanned situations. Quick-repsonse situations pose challenges to traditional brick and mortar call centers, due to the need for agents to drive to a centralized facility to report to work.

Home-Based Workers' Tricks Of The Trade
Who is attracted to working from home? That is part of the secret sauce. Many home-based agents have 10+ years work experience (the average age is 39), 95% of them are college educated (many with advanced degrees) and the retention rate is unmatched at over 85%. Being able to hire specific skills (languages or certifications) provides a tremendous advantage because you can then structure the training around the specifics of a program and not waste time on general customer service or industry training.

Because similar tools found in traditional call centers are now adapted and available in the home-based model, the capabilities are endless. Leveraging a fully integrated platform (virtual ACD, CRM, Quality Tool, Call and Screen Recording, Workforce Management, etc.) provides what is needed to operate effectively. Tools help to streamline processes so that agents can focus on delivering the ultimate customer experience. Tools combined with results-based compensation allow companies to leverage the most effective team members with the best skills. We have found home-based agents to be 20% more productive than those based in a centralized facility. Our belief is that this is driven by a combination of the higher skill set, proper compensation and tenure.

Because a more experienced team is mature and responsible, they actually require less direct oversight and management. One could debate that they even need any managing. They need tools, training and are eager for feedback-- but they are less likely to call out sick, abuse policies and require close monitoring. The experience they gained in their 10+ years of prior work experience has prepared them for the circumstances found in a professional work environment.

Emergency Staffing
Another major benefit is the ability to leverage individuals in the event of a disaster or emergency affecting a certain area. As an example, if southern Florida were to be evacuated due to a hurricane, a distributed team could quickly leverage individuals in other regions of the United States.

The timing for how quickly individuals could be "ready" in the event of an emergency is directly related to advance planning. Home-based teams are prepared for emergencies and often go through a certification process and emergency alert process training.

In our experience, the following factors would be at play for unforeseen disasters causing surges in call volume:

  • Typically 40% of the workforce would be working at any given time;

  • An estimated 80% would agree to stay on later than scheduled;

  • Approximately 50% would be able to come on early; and

  • An additional 35% would come on within 2 hours

We live in uncertain times – threats of disasters, pandemics, terror attacks and other emergenices are rarely far from our minds. The assurance of staffing availability, reliability and commitment at all times – not just during emergencies -- is invaluable.. The infrastructure and process refinements within the contact center industry which enable experienced customer service agents to manage calls and workflow from their homes is a significant advancement in emergency preparedness.

As for the agents… they enjoy schedule flexibility, reduced stress and the cost savings of not having to commute or maintain a professional wardrobe. Their bonus is the peace of mind knowing that they can continue to contribute and grow professionally within the security of their own home.

With the enabling technology in place and the growing acceptance of a home-based workforce, the forces are converging to leverage virtual servicing, which gives employers the assurance that they will be able to tap a productive workforce at all times – and which offers increasing opportunities to professionals who are seeking creative work alternatives.

About Sally Hurley:
As Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, Sally is responsible for overseeing all facets of service delivery, technology and product development for VIPdesk. Sally has more than 16 years experience in technology, operations, marketing, and business strategy in delivering high-value customer service programs. Sally is currently a member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) and The Strategic Coach.

About VIPdesk Connect:
Company LogoVIPdesk Connect, a U.S. based provider of outsourced home-based customer care services, utilizes a home-based team of Brand Ambassadors (BAs) located across 23 States. VIPdesk Connect hires awesome people to provide clients with the best customer service on the planet. Located throughout the U.S., BAs serve as a seamless extension of leading brands delivering memorable customer experiences that generate customer loyalty and drive business growth.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Motivation & Charity Work

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Published: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

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