How to Set Up a Virtual Work From Home Call Center
There are a lot of benefits to virtual work at home call centers. It’s a great concept for your stay-at-home parents and students to work without the struggle of commuting. And, it can also benefit your call center’s performance. But, you need to set it up right to truly make it successful. Use these tips and advice to create your own virtual call center right in your home.
What Is a Virtual Call Center?
In simple terms, a virtual call center is a contact center that isn’t tied to a single location. The agents of a virtual call center can be anywhere in the world. They could be working from home, from an office, or from the lounge chair on the beach. (Although, that last one may not be the most practical location.)
Wherever they are, they’re always connected by virtual call center software. Thanks to virtual call centers, agents can provide customer support with flexibility. And, best of all, this doesn’t affect the customer service level either.
But you need to know how to set up a virtual call center properly to make working from home successful, not a liability.
Can You Work From Home If You Work at a Call Center?
A lot of agents and call center managers can only imagine their work in an office setting. While it’s true that most call centers operate from a single location, your contact center doesn’t have to follow that path.
You can work in a call center from home with the help of virtual call center software. However, you need to realize that operating your call center from home will require some change to your usual work habits.
You can’t conduct calls from your living room.
Instead, move to a part of your home where you can talk to customers uninterrupted. Children and pets make a lot of noise. Plus, they can distract you from helping customers effectively.
It’s a small sacrifice, but it beats commuting to the call center office every day.
Why A Work From Home Call Center Is a Great Idea
There are clear benefits to virtual work from home call centers. These benefits are especially useful for your agents:
- Lower overhead expenses: If your reps work from home, you don’t need to rent out office space. It’s a direct saving on a business expense for you.
- Flexible hours: While you can always assign shifts and rotas for your agents, working from home opens the opportunity for flexible hours and shifts. Your agents can manage their own schedules since they’re not required to make an appearance anywhere.
- Healthy work-life balance: The 9-5 routine never benefitted any family. Working from home gives stay-at-home parents, students, and retirees a great opportunity to work at a call center.
- No more commuting: Your agents will truly appreciate not having to commute to work. They can use the time they save on commuting on family or something that they love, making them happier and fulfilled.
8 Useful Tips to Set Up a Virtual Work From Home Call Center
Setting up a virtual work from home call center doesn’t happen with the switch of a button. You need to plan and organize the procedure. Most importantly, you need to train your reps to follow them as well. Use these 8 useful tips to make the process a lot smoother for you.
1. Protect Your Equipment
Operating a call center requires equipment. Computers, headsets, and keyboards. While most people have a laptop at home, you can always allow your reps to take their work computer and headphones home. If you’re operating a virtual call center, this could be very useful for them. Not to mention how nice the gesture will be on your part.
However, make sure you protect your equipment as much as you can. Draft up a take-home policy document that your reps agree to and sign.
In this document, you can state that you’re giving reps the equipment only for work purposes. They can only use them during work hours.
Once they’re done, they need to lock them away. And, of course, they need to return the equipment if they’re not working from home.
2. Manage Your Agents Differently
How you manage your reps will change if they’re working virtually from home. Generally, multiple short check-ins are much more effective than less frequent and longer ones.
You or other call center supervisors should check in with each team member regularly throughout the workday. A collective Zoom call before the shift begins can motivate and orientate everyone. Afterward, you can also Zoom individual reps to talk about personal goals and KPIs.
We also recommend that you touch base with agents and motivate them often. Sending an encouraging message once every 15-20 minutes does a lot of wonders.
3. Create a Checklist
It’s difficult to stay on task while working from home in a virtual call center. Checklists are incredibly helpful with that. And not just for you. For your supervisors and agents as well.
Create a checklist of tasks, goals, and KPIs for both you and your team. Ideally, you want to give them a new one every day.
For supervisors, include tasks like reaching out to every single associate and sending out motivational messages. It’s not as fun as winging it, but it’s crucial, and it works.
4. Think About Security Measures
Security at a call center is incredibly important. You’re handling sensitive information on clients and accounts, and keeping that data safe is crucial. As you can imagine, virtual work at home call centers can’t monitor their agents about compliance.
Before you lend associates computers, make sure you take measures to encrypt the data. Most importantly, they shouldn’t be able to download anything on a flash drive.
At Expivia, we use LogMeIn to access computers remotely if any problem comes up. We also have virus protection software set up on all our computers.
Even if you take all the preventive security measures, you’re still not always compliant with regulations.
Arguably the most sensitive information out there is credit card details. Are virtual work from home call centers PCI compliant? No, they’re not. And if you set up a work-at-home call center, you need to understand this.
PCI compliance goes way beyond your hardware and firewalls. It also goes into your policies and procedures as well.
At Expivia we moved to an IVR system for collecting credit card information, so the agent never sees it. They only see the last four digits. This allows them to verify and move on. It’s the safest way to keep information secure at virtual call centers.
5. Use Dashboards
Since you can’t control how your agents are working, dashboards become your lifeline at a virtual call center. You can’t check how diligently they’re working. But, you can check their performance and results.
Set up a dashboard that transmits performance data in real-time. You can check quality scores, service levels, handle time, and occupancy easily.
6. Engage Your Employees
Working at a call center isn’t an easy job. Agents take on a lot when they’re in charge of customer service and satisfaction. So, it’s crucial that they feel engaged, fulfilled, and happy.
There are a multitude of call center games you can play, even if you’re working from home. You can also use Slack to bring enjoyment to our employee’s workday.
At Expivia, we love to engage our employees with games. We play rock-paper-scissors, host tournaments, and play cards regularly.
7. Guide Your Agents
It’s easy for agents to feel unsure and uncomfortable when they’re working from home. They don’t have their supervisor or manager to turn to if they have questions. But, it’s your job to make them feel self-confident in their work.
A monitoring tool that can bridge this gap is the “Voice of God”. This method lets you listen in on the calls that your agents are making. And you can give them suggestions and advice as your agents go through the call without the customer hearing you.
This goes a long way to helping your agents perform better. Plus, it’ll probably make them feel like they’re secret agents on a mission.
8. Monitor Everything
It’s easy to check up on your employees and see how they’re performing in an office. But, when you’re working separately from them, it’s easy to forget or overlook regular check-ins. In fact, you should be even more vigilant about monitoring performance. For your sake and for the success of your call center.
At Expivia, we use speech analytics to analyze how the calls go. And we can measure customer satisfaction to see if our agents are hitting their KPIs easily.
Hire a Successful Call Center to Manage Your Remote Work
Setting up your own virtual work-from-home call center isn’t an easy task. You don’t just need specialized software, you also need to be extremely well-organized to pull it off. And if you don’t, your agents will lack the guidance they need to deliver above customer expectations.
But it isn’t always easy to manage in-house.
That’s where Expivia excels. We’re a hybrid brick-and-mortar, WFM contact center that excels at customer engagement. Our USA-based office has highly trained agents and the latest in call center technology aimed at helping you with your customer engagement needs. From inbound marketing to speech analytics, we’re ready to support your outsourcing needs.
Reach out to us today and learn more about how a US call center can benefit your business and improve your customer relationships!