How to manage work from home call center employees

Ashley Sava

March 3, 2020

Looking into flexible scheduling options is one way to offset call center agent turnover. For some, this might mean allowing your workers to select shifts that best support their home lives. For others, this means giving reps the reigns to work remotely if the technology is in place to support it. Managing work from home call center agents is a big change, but it's definitely doable.

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Transitioning from a team of 100 percent onsite call center agents to a more flexible working environment can be daunting. After all, management must also adapt to a new landscape. Learning how to train, manage and motivate agents is challenging. As reps interact with customers on a daily basis, keeping them engaged from afar is crucial. Otherwise, poor performance, customer churn and a negative brand image will surely follow.

Ensuring you and your work from home call center team members are equipped with the right tools and knowledge works wonders. Here’s how to make flex work work for you and your team.

1. Invest in the best tools 

Your remote agents need to be provided with the best tools and trained on how to use them. Using listening enterprise software like Tethr, you can offer each rep a personalized training program based on actionable insight from their calls. Tethr’s technology works to combine what’s going on in real time with historical data for context to lead your agent to the best practices. Surface impactful coaching opportunities to help your reps reach their goals regardless of where they are working.

2. Preparation for the work from home call center

Whether you are hiring at-home agents or some of your current agents are looking to make the transition to a remote basis, remote-specific trainings should be offered.These training sessions shouldn’t be limited to your reps, though. Your management team must be equipped to train and monitor off-premise agents. Your IT department should be ready to handle issues with setting up remote computers, checking internet connections and troubleshooting. IT teams can eliminate some bottlenecks by coming up with a guide to standardize trouble-shooting procedures for home-based team members. 

3. Establish training protocol

Once you’ve worked out all the kinks, training can become a fast and systematized process. Create a training protocol with information that addresses things all at-home agents need. Including training manuals, recording demos, use cases and FAQs is an excellent jumping off point. Be sure to keep these materials in an easily accessible place. 

4. Nail down at-home agent policies and guidelines

Clearly define policies, procedures and expectations for your reps. When agents work remotely, it is critical to solidify these items. Be sure to state who is responsible for what costs (internet connection, headsets, machine, etc.), designate contact person/people for questions and doubts, establish appropriate environments to conduct work, and verify scheduling policies, agent etiquette, performance expectations and monitoring policies. 

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5. Roll out the plan

Rather than immediately making home-based agents your new standard, try it out with a few reps. This trial period will allow your organization to evaluate if you have the correct infrastructure to support home-based agents. It will also give you the foundation of what type of agents are optimal candidates for work from home call center employees. And on that note...

6. Define your ideal work from home call center rep

When hiring remote agents, you’ll have a wider selection of candidates to choose from as geography is no longer a boundary. With that in mind, create a persona for the type of remote agent your organization needs. Consider criteria such as your company’s culture, goals and objectives. The right call center agent candidates should possess these nonnegotiables: excellent communication skills, great discipline, a conscientious personality and proven problem solving skills. Be sure the job description you publish reflects these items so you can collect resumes from the most fitting professionals. If you do this right, your hiring process will be far smoother. 

7. Offer consistent feedback

An agent should know where they measure up both in regards to previously established expectations and contact center goals. Leaders should review performance metrics with reps on a regular basis so they can uncover areas agents are struggling with and offer training opportunities for weaker skills. Platforms like Tethr score agent performance in an accurate and unbiased manner so managers can offer the best feedback. 

8. Never isolate your work from home call center agents

Home-based agents should still feel connected to your organization. When onboarding new home-based reps, make them feel included with a Slack introduction and a welcome package. In order to keep them engaged with the community, help them stay in the loop by including them in chat discussions, newsletters, team meetings, video conferencing, company events and off-sites. 

9. Recognize good performance

When your remote agents are exceeding expectations, don’t forget to acknowledge it. When managers stop acknowledging hard work, employees don’t feel appreciated. The less appreciated the feel, the less likely they will continue going that extra mile. It’s perhaps even more important that managers be vigilant when it comes to celebrating big wins of home-based workers. 

Turning your contact center workforce into a flexible and global workplace doesn’t have to be scary. Reduce call center agent turnover by providing a more flexible experience today! 

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