For many, contact center work becomes a whole lot more enticing when it doesn’t involve working in a contact center.
If you’re looking for a way to vastly expand your center’s recruiting reach and hang on to top talent for years rather than merely months, you should seriously consider implementing a home agent initiative.
Many customer care organizations today have a home agent program in place, and nearly all of them report how the program has enabled their contact center to cut attrition. However, what often gets lost in the shuffle with all this talk about retention is just how effective a recruiting tool a home agent initiative can be. Don’t get me wrong, extending talented agents’ tenure by sending them home is great – a huge boon – but it shouldn’t totally overshadow a home agent program’s potential for attracting and retaining new talent, as well.
Even if your center doesn’t allow new-hires to work from home until after they’ve served six months or more onsite, you’d be amazed by how many people would apply for an agent position if they knew that a work-at-home opportunity existed down the road with the company. It’s not just that promoting such opportunities in job ads attracts a ton of candidates – it attracts a ton of talented candidates. Top agents from other organizations that don’t offer remote work opportunities would love the chance to interview with one that does. And no, you shouldn’t feel bad about stealing talent – unless your spouse, mother or best friend manage a contact center down the street. Even then you shouldn’t feel too badly about it.
It’s not all about nabbing neighboring agent stars. Many very talented and well-educated folks who’ve never even considered working in customer care might very well consider it if it meant being able to avoid traffic gridlock and working in their pajamas. Granted, it’s always nice to attract applicants who already have contact center experience, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with attracting smart, driven people – many of whom may very well possess a customer service soul despite having never donned a headset. (You can test this during the interview/assessment portion of the hiring process.)
The real recruiting power of a home agent initiative, however, is tapped when the organization abandons the typical “you have to work in our center first” policy. Once a contact center decides to let at least some new-hires start out working from home immediately – and clearly advertises this fact – the number and quality of job applicants often increases exponentially, thus allowing recruiters to be highly selective and discerning during the hiring process. And once a center goes truly virtual with its home agent program – that is, stops restricting its candidate search to the immediate geographic area – the entire nation opens up to recruiters. Organizations that go this route are able to attract extremely talented and experienced applicants, and those applicants typically end up sticking around for a very long time.
So what do you stand to gain by implementing a home agent initiative and treating it like a recruiting tool? Higher caliber agents, for one. Lower turnover and associated costs, for another. And let’s not forget the increase in customer satisfaction that occurs when agents not only know what they’re doing, but also love how they get to do it.
About Greg Levin
Greg Levin, Founder of Off Center, is one of the most unique and refreshing voices in the customer care industry. He has been researching, reporting on and satirizing contact center management and customer care since 1994 – first with ICMI, a leading consulting and training firm, and now as an independent writer, speaker and rabble rouser.
Greg offers a wide range of valuable and compelling resources – all aimed at educating, empowering and entertaining contact center professionals worldwide. Most notable is his popular weekly Off Center blog and his critically acclaimed ebook, Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact.
To learn more about Greg and what he brings to the table, go to: