Home or remote working has been a common phrase in most offices for several years now, but the notion of working outside the traditional environment for contact centre staff is only just beginning to emerge. Currently, home-workers represent less than 20% of the overall number of contact centre staff, but there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that not only is home-working on the verge of becoming acceptable but also that it’s a highly effective option for customer services.
A recent study conducted by Plantronics and CCA found that 61% of contact centres plan to increase their number of home-based agents.
This is not only beneficial for the employees of these organisations but for the wider contact centres industry as a whole. Traditionally, contact centres have struggled to attract older, more experienced and better-educated staff, but like any business, having the right people in place is the key to success. Given the increasingly complex and demanding range of customer needs that contact centres have to manage, employing the brightest people has never been more imperative.
Our study showed that 80% of home-based agents are likely to be college educated, compared with 30% of in-house agents, suggesting that enabling home working can help contact centres broaden out their skills sets.
Technological advances are playing a key role in driving the home-working phenomenon. While internet connection and mobile devices have enabled more employees to work away from the office, there is still more that needs to be done to drive adoption. In fact, our survey showed that reliance on broadband connectivity (which can vary in its reliability) was the top barrier to home-working for 62% of respondents.
Yet, it ’is not all bad news, with technology such as Unified Communications (UC) making collaboration and communication between home and in-house agents truly possible. The ability of UC to indicate the presence of an employee showing if they are available to communicate and also the best method to communicate with them makes it easier to find the right person, and in turn means customers get their issues resolved faster, boosting productivity.
The benefits of home-working are vast, from improving employee engagement to driving down costs, all of which ultimately see contact centres able to offer customers a better service. And while it’is great to see the industry getting on board with home-working, full adoption isn’t going to happen immediately. Different organisations will have to find the right approach for them, whether that’s opting for mixed models of full-time and part-time agents; offering home-working opportunities primarily to existing staff, or bringing in new recruits who will work exclusively from home.
Whichever option they choose, all contact centres should be considering home-working as a fundamental part of their long term approach to customer satisfaction and business success.
Copies of a new CCA research report on Home-Working Trends compiled in partnership with Plantronics will be available shortly. To pre-register your interest in receiving a copy of this report please click here.