While working remotely continues to grow in popularity, the decision to allow teams to work from home has typically presented more challenges for some areas of the business when compared to others.
New communications apps have certainly made it easier for some employees to do their jobs from the comfort of their own home, but for some industries and positions, such as call center workers, working remotely grew more slowly as managers questioned whether the practice could lead to lower productivity. The growth of cloud contact center solutions in recent years, however, has quieted the discussion, as virtual contact centers have also seen an uptick in popularity.
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Below are four reasons why virtual contact centers make sense:
1) The cloud makes it easy to communicate with customers and co-workers from any location
The anxiety that accompanies natural disasters and catastrophes brews an unprecedented number of inquiries into customer service organizations, overwhelming undertrained hourly workers or customer service agents.
During these times, customers seek new and immediate ways to interact with businesses, from wherever they are in the world, on their preferred devices and channels, especially digital ones.
Cloud platforms, offering software-as-a-service tools, have already revolutionized the way businesses share files, communicate within teams, manage supply chains, submit payroll, manage marketing, and much more.
Cloud-based contact center solutions offer the same revolutionary approach, unifying disparate offices and workers on a single system. It makes it easier to manage daily operations so you can focus on the experience you’re delivering and keep pace with the changing business landscape.
And with team messaging apps, questions can be answered quickly and efficiently, enabling remote workers to be just as effective as office staff.
RingCentral team messaging enables businesses to set up region-specific teams, so remote agents and staff at the home office can pop into the right team and ask experts for help. This makes communications run more smoothly and also keeps employees in the contact center and other departments better connected and feeling more like a team while better serving your customers.
2) Employees Are Happier and More Productive
Employee satisfaction leads to agent retention. Improving agent satisfaction and reducing attrition results in decreased operational and training costs and increases the quality of the customer experience. In fact, Retention rate for at-home agents is 80% vs. 25% for in-house according to Frost and Sullivan. Click To Tweet
Contrary to popular belief, employees can actually be more productive when they’re able to work from home. Because they are in their own house, they are able to get more done in their personal life while getting their work tasks completed efficiently.
Feeling in control over their schedules allows for improved work/life balance. Additionally, the average age of an at-home agent is 38, compared to 23 for on-site agents, which suggests a higher level of professionalism to their job that enhances the quality of service delivered and ultimately increases customer loyalty.
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3) Reduce costs
There are a number of ways having a remote workforce can save your company money, but having fewer people in the office is definitely a major one. When you have employees in an office, you need to pay for rent, utilities, and equipment for them to use while at work. These expenses can quickly add up and become a major section of your budget.
Allowing your employees to work from home will give them the freedom to choose where they work. Whether it is in a home office, at their dining room table or at a coffee shop down the street, the company itself is not responsible for the expenses. Plus, working from home reduces the costs associated with real estate, maintaining on-premise hardware, operational costs and more.
In a 2016 essay on “Does Working From Home Work?” a team of economists looked at Ctrip, a 16,000-employee Chinese travel agency that had assigned a small group of its call-center staff to work from home. Employees worked more, quit less, and were happier with their jobs. Meanwhile, the company saved more than $1,000 per employee on reduced office space.
If you’re looking to save money or cut your budget, getting rid of an office space is a great way to do that. You’ll realize very quickly how much you spend on office equipment, furniture, and supplies.
4) Hire the Best Employees, Regardless of Location
When hiring at-home call center agents, your labor pool widens beyond the geographic constraints of an office, and allows you to find top talent with unique skill sets.
These applicants will be better educated, more responsible, and more productive. They will also have unique cultural skills and live across the globe. This liberates the recruiting process and allows you to be more selective when hiring employees. Plus, if employees are spread out across the country, you can save money on salaries and benefits based on cost of living in those areas.
Having a wider selection of employees also ensures you’re choosing the right individuals for the job, not just the ones that are available.
With a strong team of employees, you can get more done and improve your brand. Your call center employees can provide the best possible feedback and information to customers regardless of where they are located.
There are a lot of benefits to working from home and having a remote workforce. If you’re considering allowing your call center employees to go remote, consider how it could actually help grow your business. With the right strategy, a strong approach and some careful planning, a remote workforce could be a real possibility in the near future.
Originally published Mar 16, 2020, updated Feb 11, 2022