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Virtual Call Centers

Telecommuting remote agents With technology from Database Systems Corp., the concept of a virtual call center is now a practical reality. Consider having your call center workforce accepting and making calls from remote offices or even from home. Also consider having monitoring and control technology in place to make this scenario possible. Perhaps even your supervisors are working from home as well. Also consider having a phone system that answers your customer inquiries on its own, but with agents available if ever needed. This phone system can even contact your customers or prospects with announcements and alerts.

Allowing your employees to work from home gives you a competitive edge over traditional call centers. Now you can hire highly qualified individuals who could not otherwise commute to your center. Handicapped individuals, single parents and the elderly can now become an integral part of your remote workforce.

The following is an article relating to telecommuting technology products and services.

Users Grow Virtual Call Centers

The following is an extract from the article "Users Grow Virtual Call Centers" from Contact Center Today:

"Office Depot is in the process of shutting down nearly all its internally operated call centers and shifting the load to outsourcers -- in particular, outsourcers who use home-based agents.

The office supply retailer has been exploring the "virtual call center" model for more than three years, and today relies on about 1,400 remote agents employed by its outsourcing partners. "We will grow to double that by the end of this year," Julian Carter, director of operations at Office Depot in Delray Beach,FIa., said in a teleconference last week.

Virtual call centers are gaining popularity as companies look for alternatives to running a traditional, in-house call center or using an offshore outsourcer.

Using outsourced work-at-home agents doesn't offer the same cost-savings potential associated with offshore outsourcing, but experts say it eliminates some concerns about cultural differences when using offshore providers.

Office Depot is shifting to the virtual model by partnering with call center outsourcing companies that use home-based agents, including Willow CSN. Based in Miramar, Fla., Willow employs 2,000 home-based agents in 12 states. This month, it's been recruiting another 400 agents, said Basil Bennett, Willow's president and CEO, in the teleconference.

Willow's competition includes other specialists such as Alpine Access, Working Solutions and West Corporation. Research firm Gartner predicts that by next year 10% of call centers will use outsourced work-at-home agents from firms such as these to supplement their customer service operations.

Outsourcers aren't the only route to establishing virtual call centers, however. Some companies choose to adopt the model on their own, such as JetBlue Airways.

Since its inception five years ago, the airline has run its reservations department using home-based agents. Today JetBlue employs 900 reservation agents working from home in the Salt Lake City area.

G.R. Badger, a supervisor at JetBlue, joined Carter, Bennett and IDC analyst Merle Sandier in the teleconference, which focused on the emerging virtual call center industry. It was moderated by Jack Heacock, vice president of the Telework Coalition.

One advantage of using home-based agents is staff retention, Badger said. Turnover rates at JetBlue are exceptionally low at 4% annually Agents enjoy the flexibility of working from home, and it shows in their performance, he said. "When agents are happy, revenue is going to go up," Badger said.

Attrition improvements are huge, Carter agreed. Before moving to a virtual model, Office Depot typically saw 60% turnover of its call center agents in a year. Going virtual immediately cut attrition rates in half, and they dropped to the 20% range within the first year, he said. Today attrition rates are in the teens, Carter said.

Attendance also is up. "On the productivity side, the biggest thing we see is a reduction in absenteeism," Carter said. He estimates the company has cut costs between 30% and 40% per call by outsourcing, which eliminates many operational costs for Office Depot and lets the company take advantage of a variable pricing model based on call volume.

"It's a good alternative to completely going offshore," Carter said......"

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Virtual Call Center Phone System

remote agents in action work from home system The heart of a virtual call center is the phone system. Our PACER Predictive Dialer phone system supports call center remote agents that log in from remote offices or from home. PACER tracks each telecommuter agent separately and can route inbound calls to these agents as if they were working locally. Likewise, remote agents can initiate outbound calls and PACER can even route predictive dialer calls to these same telecommute agents. This telecommuter phone system has voice monitoring capability that lets your supervisors audit the quality of the remote agents, ensuring that the service and support provided by your remote agents are of the highest standards.

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CRM Applications for Work At Home Agents

Remote agent work at home capability is a standard feature of our award winning CRM Software, TELEMATION. Telephone functions and call recording are some of the many features available within this product. Complete contact management, call history, order entry, literature fulfillment are just a few of the applications that can be managed using this call center telecommuting software system. Telemation campaigns can be developed with telephony features defined on a campaign wide basis as well as per individual agent. Plus Telemation lets you provide your agents with selective telephone functions including a call record button.

Expand Your Employment Opportunities

Allowing your employees to work from home gives you a competitive edge over traditional call centers. Now you can hire highly qualified individuals who could not otherwise commute to your center. Handicapped individuals, single parents and the elderly can now become an integral part of your remote workforce.