Small businesses are always looking for ways to improve call center performance and reduce the overhead cost of maintaining an in-house customer service department.
Outsourcing customer service to India and other offshore locations has advantages. But more and more companies are exploring the idea of using work-at-home customer service reps to meet their call center needs.
Work-at-home customer service departments can dramatically reduce employer costs and create a more flexible call center environment. Workers appreciate the convenience of working from an in-home office space and are frequently more productive than their onsite peers.
However, there are several issues that need to be addressed before you commit to a home-based customer service strategy since the way you structure your work-from-home program will have a major impact on the quality of service you provide your customers. Here are a few of common work-from-home customer service mistakes you'll want to avoid along the way.
- Lack of planning. The transition to a home-based customer service strategy doesn't happen overnight. It takes planning and preparation to establish reliable systems and recruit a capable work-from-home staff. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to rush the process unnecessarily.
- Inadequate management processes. Managing a work-from-home labor force is much different than managing an on-site call center. Customer service managers need to be trained how to properly monitor call center activities and create meaningful relationships with remote team members.
- Hiring the wrong people. Some people simply can't thrive without the structure of a traditional workplace. Ideally, your recruiting efforts should focus on individuals with a successful track record in telecommuting or self-directed workflows. Although your managers will monitor their activities, home-based CSRs are responsible for motivating themselves to improve performance.
- Unreliable technology. Current technology makes at-home customer service easier than ever before. But you will still need to double check your telecommunication system and create a backup plan in case you experience failures.
- Poor communication. Off-site workers need to know they are part of the team. One of the ways to accomplish that is by creating multiple channels of communication and frequently using them to stay in touch with home-based CSRs.