Evolution of The Work-At-Home Landscape
The changes in home-based contact center working has been as rapid as it has been pronounced. As an analyst, I can recall a decade ago at the advent of work-at-home as a solution for the mass market, there was a lot of discussion about what could be achieved with high-quality, educated agents services end-users from their residences. And, while the possibilities seemed endless on paper, it is only now that we are witnessing a significant shift in the types of functions that are being handled from a virtualized CRM environment.
There is no question that two areas in which the work-at-home model has succeeded include customer care and technical support. Both these functions lend themselves to the home-based agent profile, and firms across vertical markets have been able to ensure high quality interactions to their consumers using this business model, resulting in both loyalty and increased volumes of business. But clearly, as consumers are evolving in their preferences for interaction channels and requirements, so is the realization of what home based agents can achieve.
Probably one of the most exciting developments in the home agent market is the application of the virtualized workforce to undertake non-voice interactions. Great examples of this include home agents supporting consumers across web-chat and email platforms. Anecdotal evidence suggests that contact center agents fitting the home-based profile have very strong written skills, meaning better empathy with the end-user and clearer communications. Another emerging non-voice area is that of social media, and clients of home-based outsourcers not only should be considering what networks are most pertinent to their consumer base, but how they can work with their virtual CRM partner to deliver this channel to their end-users.