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Some Tips on Transitioning from a Brick and Mortar Call Center to Virtual

March 03, 2011
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Nicole Burney, inContact Client Services Manager, wrote recently that as companies move from a brick-and-mortar workforce to an at-home model, “they are quickly realizing the transition does not come without challenges.”

She notes that there are components of this business transition businesses frequently overlook, such as “the need to re-establish processes for coaching and development. This business transition requires structured change to support the needs of the new remote agent base -- it requires a new approach in measuring the work that was once measured within the brick-and-mortar center.”

For instance, Burney says, companies deploying this model frequently ask okay, now that the agents are in their homes working, how do we coach them? As she writes, “some companies have tried to address the need for coaching by sending supervisors to the agents’ homes.  Would you be surprised to learn that these home visits were less than welcomed by agents?”

Ah, no. Wouldn’t surprise us in the least -- having our supervisor or manager hanging out in our homes would not be welcome.  

Burney suggests Web conferencing, as an option, “where you have the agent and supervisor on a conference bridge sharing the same desktop visual for demonstration purposes.” She advises companies to plan ahead on how to address “questions that remote agents might have during calls, chat sessions, and e-mails, thus creating the need for immediate assistance.”

In the brick and mortar model, of course, agents simply raise their hand, alerting a floor walker or supervisor of a question. A virtual call center might need a company Q&A Internet chat room instead, Burney says. “Instant messaging applications serve as a lifeline for remote agents.”

There’s much more good, practical advice in Burney’s post, such as “don’t forget about the need for sound checks. If sound quality background noise is an issue in the home environment, this can easily be detected by monitoring voice contacts and addressing concerns with the respective agent. That professional company image goes down the drain when dogs are barking in the background during calls.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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