Home-Based Contact Center Model Growing in U.K. Contact Centers
September 11, 2008
The contact center industry and its stakeholders have benefited from the emergence of the home-based agent model. While not all contact centers are ready to make the move to virtual centers to support such an environment, for others, it is the key to expanding its service offerings without significant capital investment.
The home-based model agent can make a significant difference in the U.S. market as it can allow companies to keep more contact center jobs on U.S. soil. It also allows contact centers to better select their job candidates according to skills sets and experience instead of geographic location.
The same can be true for those contact centers operating in the U.K. According to a study from business organization, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as reported on CCF Online, nearly half of all employers - or 46 percent - revealed that they now offer remote working opportunities to staff. This statistic is a dramatic increase from 14 percent just two years ago and 11 percent in 2004.
This dramatic rise in the home-based model in the U.K. contact center industry is producing significant flexibility for employees as they have the opportunity to stay with a company, even if they are forced to move to another city; work from home when traveling to work is prohibitive; and work from an alternative location when disabilities might be a contributing factor.
The U.K. survey also found that other kinds of flexible working have also increased, including term-time working and job sharing. Contact centers and their parent organizations have determined that when their employees are in more flexible and comfortable environments, they are more productive and deliver a better experience for the customer.
John Cridland, deputy director-general of CBI, told CCF Online: “Using tele-working to take work out of the office has become very popular, and is also a useful way to avoid a laborious commute, balance family commitments, and even reduce carbon emissions. As technology becomes more reliable and widely available, this trend can only grow.”
While the home-based model can deliver measurable benefits to both the company and the employee, there are also some drawbacks to this model. Companies at times find it difficult to maintain a consistent level of quality in calls when agents are not located within a traditional center. Others may worry that they cannot maintain a brand unless they keep tight control on their contact center agents through monitoring and recording.
The challenges to the home-based model are legitimate, but so are the benefits. For those that are preparing to expand their contact center operations, the time may be right to consider such a move.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for ContactCenterSolutions and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi