Real Time Communications Featured Article

The Distributed Call Center for 21st Century Customer Expectations

October 22, 2014

There’s a curious conundrum in the contact center industry: the people who tend to apply for jobs in physical contact center facilities are often young, not generally college educated and are part of a demographic that typically leads to high turnover as they “figure out what they want to be when they grow up.”

High-quality customer support, however, is generally easiest to offer when agents are older, better educated, more experienced and less self-involved. Parents make great call center agents: they are used to multitasking and exhibiting patience. But if your call center is full of 22-year-olds with high school diplomas and no experience beyond working at the DQ every summer during high school, how are you going to offer the personalized, multichannel customer service you need to be offering to keep customers?

The answer is to look elsewhere for your call center workers. Physical contact center premises, once the only option for call center services, are no longer as necessary as they once were in the age of premise-based call center systems. This means that companies can range farther geographically in searching for agents who are well equipped to offer a high-quality customer experience.

The modern idea is the “distributed contact center,” and it could be made up of many configurations, including one or more brick and mortar contact centers, plus remote offices and home-based agents.

For some companies, it’s a collection of 100 percent home-based agents working from their living rooms or home offices anywhere in the country. Hosted and cloud-based technology make it possible, and mean that anyone, anywhere can become part of the contact center simply by logging in via a high-speed Internet connection and putting a headset on.

Image via Shutterstock.

With the distributed call center model, companies can hire skilled, experienced and educated workers dedicated to call center work as a profession and not just a way to pay the bills this month. This may mean stay-at-home parents, disabled people, semi-retired adults and individuals living in remote parts of the country that lack sufficient employment options. These people make excellent agents, and companies interested in boosting the quality of service they offer while at the same time keeping a lid on costs would be well advised to investigate these options.

What’s holding many companies back? There’s still a fear that without a manager or supervisor looming over agents’ shoulders, employees won’t work. Modern workforce management and call and screen monitoring solutions, however, mean that managers have just as much purview over agents as they would in a physical call center. In fact, many modern cloud-based call center platforms include advanced collaboration solutions that mean agents are more in touch with one another than they might be in a traditional contact center.

As customers’ expectations soar today and the number of channels they expect to be able to use rise, companies need to be prepared to offer flexible, high-quality customer experiences. Stuck in a call center model invented in the 1970s, this will be excessively challenging. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Article comments powered by Disqus

  Subscribe here for RTCW eNews