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Article : What’s the State of Work-at-Home in Customer Care in 2017?

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets

Author Kim Campbell, VP of Operations for Blue Ocean Contact Centers examines the evolution of "work-at-home" agents in recent years and offers some insight as to why clients are now asking outsourcers about their "work-at-home" programs.

About five years ago, we entered a discussion with a prospective client. They had been outsourcing their customer service to a call center with a predominantly "work-at-home" (WAH) model and one of the first questions they asked us was about work-at-home agents. They’d had a bad experience with that model and were keen to move as far away from any work-at-home solution as possible. We won the business with a solution that was based entirely on using agents located in our center. In those years, we also saw many Requests for Proposals (RFP) for Call Center Services asking questions around WAH with the clear indication that it was not the desired model. The RFPs were basically asking questions to weed out strictly WAH providers. Fast forward a couple of years and the very same client who scrambled to get away from a WAH model was pushing us to move to a hybrid model with work-at-home as an integral part of the mix. We started to see RFPs asking, not if, but how we would incorporate WAH as part of the solution. So what happened? Did WAH move from something to be avoided to something to be embraced over the course of just a few years?


As Technology Advances, So Does Work-at-Home

Until recent years, many companies were hesitant to explore the work-at-home model for their outsourced call center agents. Even just five years ago, technology limitations were a barrier to having a remote agent solution that was as secure, robust, and stable as the call center environment. But the technical landscape has been evolving in leaps and bounds, and work-at-home capabilities are being driven by advancements in virtualization and cloud computing.

Once upon a time, we would place our own computers and routers at our WAH agents’ houses. We set up separate networks for computer and telephony, and our tech team would make routine visits to agents’ homes to audit set-ups and to resolve issues. In less than a decade, residential internet speed and stability has evolved to new heights and personal hardware like computers and monitors for home use has kept pace. So there is no longer a need to install our own equipment. We simply provide a USB headset for computer audio and set up the agent with credentials to a remote virtual desktop environment. In some cases, we also provide a USB key that boots their computer into an independent operating system that connects flawlessly to the remote environment.

With cloud and virtualization tools becoming ubiquitous in the business world, the ability to implement and support this technical environment has become significantly easier and more cost-effective. Stay at home agents are up and running without any tech support visits; in-house overhead, including workspace and technology, is significantly reduced; and the remote access model maintains a highly secure environment for any sensitive data and information. In other words, the cloud makes it possible for agents to be using the exact same environment at home as they do in our offices. The cloud has completely transformed reliability, security, and transparency in a WAH model. With this technical transformation, many of the concerns about WAH that clients had in 2012 have been erased. But what about the people concerns? Can a contact center partner really manage a team of agents working remotely as effectively as they can manage someone sitting right beside them?


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Managing Work-at-Home Call Center Agents
There’s no denying that there is an enormous amount of trust required with a work-at-home model in your outsourced call center. After all, you’re already trusting your entire brand to an outsourced call center partner. The idea of having outsourced agents represent your company from their own homes may certainly spark some anxiety. Could your contact center partner really effectively supervise their contact handling efficiency? What about quality assurance? How do they get supported and coached? How can your partner guarantee the model won’t devolve into some nightmarish notion of "out of sight, out of mind"? These are valid questions and technology has evolved to assist in performance management in this regard as well. But to begin with, let’s look at some of the best practices for approaching the remote agent scenario.

There are three factors to consider when managing work-at-home call center agents.


First, Who Can Handle Work-at-Home?

Our hiring profile for work-at-home agents has unique distinctions. Not surprisingly, successful work-at-home agents tend to be mature, self-motivated, self-disciplined people who like to take initiative. Typically, these agents are not extroverts who need the group setting to thrive. The typical WAH agent is confident in their own abilities and are natural problem-solvers.

When recruiting people for work-at-home positions, we prefer to hire from within. Agents who have tenure in our physical environment have been immersed in the brand experience of our clients and understand how our culture drives our service. In addition, time working in our physical office means we’ve been able to gauge how that particular agent responds to coaching and what kind of support works best for them. We’ve seen how well they are able to focus on the task at hand and we’ve assessed their efficiency in contact handling. For some WAH agents, our process includes a "test run," in which candidates work in an isolated office area away from their home team. Essentially, this means working solo within a separate work area to see how well the agent performs working "alone" and if they even enjoy it.


The Virtual Classroom. Is It Enough?

This is a great topic of discussion. The virtual classroom of 2017 is a thing of beauty. In the past, training has been a barrier to some companies in developing their work-at-home team. If someone is working from home due to mobility or transportation issues – a requirement to come to the office to be trained could be a barrier. Today’s online classrooms have pretty much eliminated that barrier. But having said that, for us, training always happens in our own offices. One of the competitive differentiators for Blue Ocean in the crowded global contact center industry is that we have evolved a process and culture that results in our agents truly embodying our clients’ brands. (Our biggest clients tell us regularly that we do the brand immersion experience better than any outsourcers they’ve worked with around the world.) We’ve found that this cultural immersion in our client’s brand and in Blue Ocean’s values happens best in person. For us, this is truly a case of "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." Basically, we could efficiently manage the "knowledge transfer" process to get an agent effectively trained at home, but we believe the emotional piece of the puzzle still requires an in-person experience.


Coaching and Managing the At-Home Agent

Once they’re in the field, our on-going coaching program operates almost exactly how it does in the office. Again, this is where technology advancements, especially in collaboration, have changed the game. Through the use of SIP technology, communications tools (in our case Cisco’s Jabber) can support rich media, and real-time communication. Our contact center is built on that. The only difference in performance management for WAH agents is that our coaches and WAH agents engage in live coaching sessions via Jabber, with the ability to text, talk, use video, and share live screens and files rather than sitting side-by-side. Measuring the quality and productivity of the work-at-home agent is the same process as in-house; agents are held accountable to the same key performance indicators, and they are frequently asked to self-evaluate their delivery of the customer experience.

Will Their Performance Compare to In-House Agents?
A study reported in the Harvard Business Review claimed that stay at home call center agents answered 13.5% more calls than their in-house counterparts. The cause of this, they reported, was likely the quieter environment, with no "cake in the break room effect," as well as the lack of commute, shorter breaks and lunch hours, and fewer sick days.

We have seen excellent performance from our work-at-home agents. For non-tenured agents, the only negative we initially see is longer Average Handle Times. This difference becomes negligible over time as they are coached on a continuous basis. One benefit that at-home agents bring to the table is a greater willingness to accept split shifts and on-call work. In many cases, the work-at-home model has improved attendance records while simultaneously allowing agents greater work-life balance and continued employment despite scenarios like relocation or greater family responsibilities.

Another huge benefit to this remote set-up is the extra layer of redundancy for business continuity. When office evacuations occur or treacherous weather conditions make it difficult for agents to get to the office, remote agents are on the job.

Exploring the Work-at-home Model in Your Outsourced Call Center
The cloud, virtual classrooms, and new coaching approaches and tools have eradicated many of the concerns clients had in the early 2010s about the stability and effectiveness of WAH. We believe there are real benefits to including remote agents in the solution model for our clients. A WAH contingent can bolster your business continuity, scalability, and flexibility especially for programs with frequent unpredictable spikes in volume.

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets


About Kim Campbell:
Kim has an excellent track record of growing her clients’ revenue and building trusting relationships. Her success has been driven in large measure by her analytical skills, her ability to identify and resolve challenges, and her dedication to improving performance through creative solutions.

About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
Company LogoWe thrive on delivering critical customer service solutions that go beyond transactional interactions. As such, our goal is to enhance lifetime customer value, providing support that is a reflection of your brand promise, even in high-pressure, complex customer service scenarios.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Beware Of Techno Babble & Jargon

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

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2021 Buyers Guide Dialer Solutions

 
1.) 
Acqueon Technologies Inc.

Acqueon's AI-driven conversational engagement software enables sales, marketing and service organizations to engage in emotionally connected dialogs with customers via their channel of choice for significantly improved results. The Acqueon suite adds multichannel campaign management, contact center analytics, desktop, and CRM connectors for your contact center software of choice, including Amazon Connect, Cisco, Nice inContact, and Twilio. Acqueon conversational engagement software leverages the Acqueon IQ platform to aggregate data from the various applications, assemble rich customer contexts, and drive next-best-action using powerful statistical and predictive models.

2.) 
Avyukta Intellicall Consulting Pvt. Ltd.

Dialer CRM VoIP CTI Cloud Solutions
We are a single roofed solution for Dialer / Hosted Dialer / VoIP / CRM and CTI Solutions . With 300+ call center clients in above 9 countries and recent features such as :

Dynamic custom agent crm popup

avatar module

10+ Custom Reports

Cloud Telephony with/out "Host your Trunks" option

and End to End CRM on the cards we are supposed to grow exponentially within the next 6 Months

3.) 
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

4.) 
Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire
Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:

5.) 
ComSys S.A.

CList for Outbound Campaigns Management
CList by Comsys is an application that helps contact centers enhance the performance of their outbound campaigns. It accomplishes that by enabling the planning and execution of sophisticated communication strategies. Additionally, the AI-powered module of CList extends the possibilities of outbound campaigns delivering unprecedented results.
Comsys is a provider of οmnichannel customer engagement solutions that assist companies around the world in delivering unique customer experiences. For the last 15 years, Comsys designs and implements complex projects for clients from the outsourcing, financial services, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Comsys enjoys strategic partnerships with t...
(read more)

6.) 
Consilium Software

Consilium UniCampaign™
Reaching the right person with the right information on the right channel at the right time is a tall order. That’s the power the new Consilium UniCampaign™ has been adding to Cisco outbound contact centers, easily tripling or quadrupling results, from improving digital customer acquisition to managing post-sale customer relationship. Delivering proactive outbound engagement in a game-changer product, Consilium UniCampaign™ is an omnichannel List and Campaign Management (LCM) solution which complements the strength and robustness of Cisco's Outbound Dialer with the implementation of multichannel (voice, email, and SMS) outbound contact strategies. The new 7th release of UniCampaign™ is des...
(read more)

7.) 
contactSPACE

contactSPACE
Dialer software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worried about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Dramatically increase agent productivity using a variety of dialers, combined with AI, leveraging data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time.

Take control, and ensure your team are on-message by designing the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual WYSWYG editor.

Rotate CLIDs, and auto-wrap certain calls to ensure maximum agent productivity and performance.

8.) 
CTCOMM

Genesys PureConnect
Genesys PureEngage
Tegsoft

9.) 
Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire
Companies of all sizes rely on the cloud-based call center platform Dialfire and its powerful predictive dialer. Dialfire is ready to use within minutes and easily personalizable. From small ad-hoc to large multi-step campaigns, Dialfire offers high scalability. Adapt customer masks and automate workflows per mouse click. Integrated scripting and APIs ensure a smooth connection with external systems.

10.) 
Megacall

Megadialer
With Megadialer you will get a customized call center software. With the creation of personalized questions, surveys and sales script you will have the information you need from your customers quickly and efficiently. Improve the performance of your agents with a 100% online contact center, real-time analytics and predictive dialer to optimize the time between one call and another.

All rates include:
Instant Call Reports
On-Demand Recording
Call Supervisor
Call Layout after Completion
Your Own Caller ID
Call Monitor
Automatic Re-Calls
Automatic sending of Mails
Incoming Call Management
Real-time Activity Panels
Call Lists for Agents
Different Levels of Administration

11.) 
Noetica

SmartBound™
Advanced outbound solution including predictive dialing, featuring patented technologies such as Live Person Detection (LPD™) and SNoDrop™ using Artificial Intelligence to deliver compliant & effective predictive dialing with 0% abandoned call rates. The solution includes its own CRM system as well as visual campaign creation and management as well as automated data import and export capabilities. The package comes with highly visual and open call scripting technology and an SDK (Software Development Kit) is also available for embedding the dialer into your own user front end.

12.) 
Nuxiba Technologies

CenterWare
Discover Nuxiba's all-in-one dialer solutions. Either predictive or automatic, our software adapts to your business needs with a powerful and easy-to-use system. We offer TCPA compliance options, so you never have to worry about issues with the law and PCI Data Security so you can protect your cardholder's data information during every call.

Stop worrying about technicalities and focus on the most valuable aspect: giving the best service and customer experience with our intuitive features. All of our features and modules are fully adaptable to any business needs.

Obtain the benefits of using software fully tailored to your business, start saving money, and boosting your productivity.

13.) 
PhoneBurner

PhoneBurner
Reach more contacts, in less time with PhoneBurner. Powering thousands of client and millions of calls, our cloud-based software eliminate repetitive tasks so agents have up to 4x more live conversations. Unlike other dialers, PhoneBurner delivers 100% delay-free connections with no awkward pause. Conversations start off with promise, not hangups.

- Call 60-80 contacts per hour, per agent
- Instantly leave voicemails
- Send 1-touch emails
- Automate workflows and call logging
- Record and transfer calls
- Access reporting and analytics
- Intelligently distribute leads
- Dial from local Caller IDs
- Get free white-glove onboarding

Scales to any size team with no contracts, no setup fees, and no per minute charges. Start a free trial without a credit card.

14.) 
PrimoDialler

Predictive Dialler
A predictive dialler is an outbound call system that automatically dials from a list of telephone numbers. Also known as Power or Auto dialers it will automatically help agents make more calls, generate higher rates of connections, increase conversions, manage voicemail, no-answers and disconnected numbers.

We’ve made it easy to get started, we offer packages to best suit your needs and don't tie you into long term contracts. Don't take our word for it take out a no-commitment free trial!

15.) 
Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

InterDialog UCCS
The InterDialog Dialer is an independent & intelligent auto dialer software that controls the outbound calls using various algorithms. This call center dialer works as Predictive Dialer Software, Progressive Dialer Software, Preview Dialer Software or Power Dialer Software based on the requirement of the process. It allows the system to create groups/caller lists and then dials out to multiple calling groups/lists at the same time, thus helping target a wider market segment in a shorter period of time.

The predictive dialer software and automatic dialer algorithms used by the InterDialog Dialer are designed to improve efficiency by lowering the wait time, the number of dropped calls and t...
(read more)

16.) 
Tru29 Outsource Solutions Inc.

Custom Outsourced Solutions
Tru29 Solutions tailor fits a dialer solution that will truly suit your needs.

17.) 
voiptime

Voiptime Contact Center
Our contact center solution allows processing the high volume of client requests from different channels (voice, webchat, email, web callbacks), running massive outbound dialing campaigns, and makes all call center operations visible for management. Voiptime Cloud Contact Center is a professional calling solution for outbound and inbound calls. It’s a plug-and-play software that immediately increases the productivity of your call center department. With the help of our solution you are able to:
- Automate lead prospecting and have 4x more live conversations daily;
- Increase the agent occupancy up to 80-90% with the help of the fastest Predictive dialer;
- Smooth out the peaks of calls by...
(read more)
 

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