A work-from-home customer service department can reduce your company's call center overhead costs and deliver greater flexibility for both you and your employees.
The downside is that the success of a work-at-home call center isn't guaranteed. Hire the wrong people and your grand plan of at-home customer service will be doomed from the start.
The harsh reality is that there is any number of factors that can sabotage your efforts. The technological requirements can be overwhelming, not to mention the management structures and collaborative processes that go into creating a successful work-from-home customer service environment.
But by far, the single most important factor in determining the success of your home-based customer service program is recruiting. It is absolutely essential to design a recruiting strategy that attracts talented workers who are capable of thriving in a work-from-home environment.
- Broad geographic net. An advantage of hiring work-at-home customer service employees is that you are no longer restricted by geography. The way to leverage this benefit is with a wide-reaching recruiting strategy that incorporates regional centers for occasional face-to-face interactions.
- Successful employment history. Look for applicants that have a successful track record of self-directed employment. Prior telecommuting experience is helpful, but not essential if the applicant has a proven background as a self-starter.
- Assess motives. It's valuable to assess each applicant's professional motivation for a work-from-home employment experience. For example, if an applicant wants a work-at-home job so they can simultaneously operate an in-house daycare center, she's probably not a good candidate for your home-based CSR workforce.
- Evaluate technical skills. Work-from-home CSRs don't need to be IT geniuses. But they do need to be comfortable with technology and possess basic computer skills. They may also be required to troubleshoot basic hardware problems.
- Clarify expectations. During the recruiting process, make sure prospective candidates understand the job requirements and typical workflows. Scheduling tends to be a high priority for home-based workers, so it may be helpful to describe the average workday in your recruiting materials.