What is an At Home Agent?
At home agents have the same job description as agents who work in a call center; the only significant difference is that they work solely from home. There may also be variations on their everyday tasks because they do not have an office space and their only way to communicate with co-workers is through chat, email or call. The employment model for at home agents also differ from those who work at a company facility – they may be on payroll, on commission or may work as independent contractors.
Top 3 Reasons Why Companies Employ At Home Agents
- Overcome agent scarcity and provide 24/7 service. Companies that started recruiting at home agents are able to overcome the problem of having less people to handle their customer service calls; they are able to retain the ones they have and find new ways to look for possible applicants. For some companies, hiring at home agents has helped increase their business’ profits – their applicants may be considered as ‘higher quality agents’ because these people have some college education unlike most agents that work at the office. Moreover, these companies are enjoying staffing flexibility because more at home agents are willing to work during the ‘hard-to-staff’ overnight shift. With more agents on board, call center businesses are able to handle peak demands and improve their customers’ experiences.
- Reduce costs and increase profits. Have you heard of the saying ‘it’s cheaper to move bits than bodies’? Agents who work at a company facility are usually paid higher than at home agents; IDC, a consulting firm, has reported that a US facility agents earn around $31 per hour while agents who work from home receive $21. Hiring at home agents may help a business take advantage of lost time and stay competitive in the industry.
- Make good agents want to stay. Hiring at home agents rids companies of the worry that other companies may pirate their best agents; traditional call center models are very prone to agent turnover issues as compared to home-agent models. Using at home agents has also helped businesses lower down their overall expenses – labor, equipment, etc. Peter Ryan, a senior analyst at Data-monitor, stated that ‘If companies can tie down their savings to higher rates of end-user satisfaction, it can translate into a winning investment for the outsourcing client’.
Getting the Best Out of Home Agents
If you are planning to hire at home agents or are already doing so, you must know how to enhance your programs to ensure business success. Here are some recommendations that you may use as a guideline in getting the best out of your home-based agents. However, do remember that the following information may not apply to every telecommuter such as virtual assistants and home-based businesses because these two positions require more general work.
- Establish solid policies for at home agents. Hiring home-based agents may require you to make some additional criteria to your company’s existing policy for telecommuting.
- Create a written copy of your policies and procedures. Make this copy as clear as possible; it should indicate that all of your company’s policies and procedures apply to them as your employees and are not limited to those specifically for at home agents. Ensure that all your agents clearly understand your company’s administrative process for home-based tasks.
- Provide access to company directory. This is important to allow your home-based agents to contact various support departments whenever necessary.
- Select the right people for the job. Many employees are good workers and observe work ethics but are not well-suited to work from home. Personality is just one aspect to consider when hiring the right people; consider doing a background check of your applicants especially if their job allows them to have access to sensitive customer information.
- Always reward good performance. Just like in a traditional call center setting, arrange at-home perks for your home-based agents who perform well. This will keep them motivated and inspired to deliver quality work all the time.
- Assign an onsite project manager. Be sure to have an onsite project manager who is assigned to the at home agent to assist in training, monitoring, coaching etc…You want the at home agent to be held accountable and have someone to bounce off of when needed.