Training Counts for Inbound, Outbound and Homeward Bound

Home agents are a hot topic lately. With so many call centers making headlines as they strive to increase revenue and jobs by adding home agents to their workforce, is your center tempted to send your calls "homeward bound"?

In a recent ICMI QuickPoll, we asked members of the industry about whether or not they would employ home agents. The majority of those who responded showed that many of them already do. However, there is still a notable percentage that are hesitant to take the plunge. But, why?

ICMI has found that one of the top challenges holding many organizations back from employing home agents is obtaining the proper training. Another factor is the absence of on-site peer-monitoring and coaching. The lack of face-to-face communication can certainly complicate the training process, but it doesn't have to.

A Glance at the Pros and Cons

The decision to include home agents to your workforce isn't a small one, so the first step is weighing the pros and cons.

ICMI Certified Associate and trainer, Jean Bauve-Kerwin, shares some of the particular challenges -- and benefits -- to employing home agents that she has noted. Some of these challenges include:

  • Technology infrastructure
  • Managing a distributed workforce
  • Keeping employees engaged
  • Creating personal relationships between employee and supervisor privacy concerns.

Of course, with proper planning and communication, these challenges can be overcome. Employing home-based agents has a number of benefits as, well, for both the organization and the agent. Some of the notable benefits include:

  • Cost savings for the organization
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Better employee work/life balance
  • Scheduling flexibility
  • Business continuity

It is also important to realize that a call center's management team plays a significant role in the home agent process. By having a strong understanding of what the needs of your home agents are/will be you will be better equipped to deal with the challenges that Jean mentions above.

If you would like to find out more about these challenges and benefits, ICMI is offering a brand-new three-part virtual classroom courses for home agent management, which a focus on Assessment and Strategic Planning, Operational Execution and Leadership and Management. Each course will help you assess the option for adding home agents to your workforce, including strategies for management and planning and addressing the most common key issues.

Those of you that currently employ home agents, we would love to hear your feedback and stories on the training and maintaining process.

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.

Comments (3)

Leave a comment

Please sign in to leave a comment. If you don't have an account you can register for free here.

Forgot username or password?


Marta Kelsey — 8:46AM on Sep 13, 2011

Can you think of any examples where a home agent model just isn't appropriate?

Christina D'Airo — 8:59AM on Sep 13, 2011

That is a great question, Marta! As "awesome" as the home agent model is, it's not for every call center. Can anyone give us any real-world examples of where and why it hasn't worked?

Linda Riggs — 12:14PM on Sep 13, 2011

911 centers tend to steer clear of this model. Clearly technological issues would be a reason, but also for the safety of personnel as well as the community at large is another.