At Home Agent FAQ List
October 11, 2007
"I want to be a home agent."
I get a lot of e-mails that start off this way. Because I frequently write on the topic, I assume most people find me through search engines. One thing a lot of the e-mails I get have in common is an initial explanation of why the writer wants to be a home agent. I'm disabled. I'm a semi-retired veteran. I'm a widow. I have small children. I don't drive. My pension isn't enough to support me.
There's a reason these people reach out to me and other TMCnet editors: there are far too many work-at-home scams out there, and many people with a genuine interest in working from home are wary of falling into a fraudster's trap…for very good reason.
So, here is an informal FAQ sheet I've put together for people who might want to seriously consider working as a home agent.
1. Do I have to have a college degree to be a home agent?
Not necessarily, but for every legitimate home agent position that opens, there are dozens — or more — of applicants. The more education you have, the better your chances of finding a home agent position. If you've worked in customer service before, your chances are even better. But keep in mind your other interests and education may count, as well. For example, a home agent company with a client that sells gardening supplies through a catalog might value the fact that you've been a hobbyist gardener for 30 years.
2. Do the positions pay benefits?
Some do and some don’t. Some companies hire home agents as independent contractors, not company employees. Others do take on their home agents as full employees. If having benefits and being a company employee is important to you, ask this question of any potential employer up front.
3. How do I know the home agent employer is legitimate?
Any legitimate home agent employer will never ask you for money up front. If you have to pay or buy into a work-from-home situation, it's not legitimate.
4. What equipment do I need to work from home?
In most cases, just a decent computer with an up-to-date Windows operating system and a high-speed Internet connection (cable or DSL), but individual companies may have different demands.
5. Is a home agent position good for a stay-at-home parent?
Yes and no. Home agent positions are good for stay-at-home parents in that oftentimes, home agents can schedule their work blocks while children are at school or daycare. But keep in mind that the moment your manager/supervisor hears a screaming child in the background of a customer call, that'll be it for your career as a home agent. While you are working, you will need to make childcare arrangements for your kids.
6. Will the company monitor my calls and productivity?
Yes. Today's IP (Internet protocol) technology enables you to be logged in to your employer's monitoring, workforce management (scheduling) and customer service software exactly as if you were working in the physical call center.
7. Does it matter that I'm disabled?
Not at all. The companies that use home agents value their home workers' maturity, experience and work ethics.
8. How do I go about applying?
The companies that offer home agent positions usually have special pages on their Web sites for you to submit yourself as a candidate for a home agent. Should they find your resume compelling, they will probably schedule a phone-based interview with you.
9. Does it matter where I live?
Not generally. Some companies prefer to use home agents based in the same general geographic location as the company headquarters, others don't care where their home agents are physically located.
10. Which companies use home agents?
The following is a short list of companies that are either exclusively home-agent based or have substantial home agent programs.
Alpine Access, www.alpineaccess.com
Convergys (News - Alert) Corp., http://www.convergysworkathome.com/Convergys/HAP/re_agent.nsf/webform?OpenForm
InfoCision Management Corp., http://www.infocision.com/Careers/Pages/WorkFromHome.aspx
Working Solutions, www.workingsolutions.com
Tracey Schelmetic is editorial director for CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions. For more articles please visit Tracey Schelmetic’s columnist page.