A RECENT SURVEY SUGGESTS THAT 84 PERCENT OF MANAGERS IN CHARGE OF LARGE CONTACT CENTERS SEE THE EMERGENCE OF EMPLOYING REMOTE AGENTS AS THE NEXT BIG TREND IN THE INDUSTRY, GIVING WAY FOR LOWER FIXED COSTS AND A NEW AND EVEN MORE QUALIFIED POOL OF CANDIDATES.
(COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, 04 JUNE, 2012) Contact centers’ traditional dependency on the local talent mass may be a thing of the past, as more and more traditional contact centers are looking into decentralizing operations and employing remote agents, who typically work from home.
Being a remote agent allows for several advantages such as less commuting time and more flexibility in working hours to fit around the agents own schedule. The flexibility of the work hours can provide the agent with increased work satisfaction and the contact center with a higher degree of agent retention, as remote agent initiatives allows stay-at-home parents, disabled people and people in rural communities, with the ability to enjoy a fulltime but flexible job.
In December 2011 Jabra and analysis institute Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey of 250 contact center managers in Great Britain, France, the U.S., China and India to investigate the connection between a good sound environment, employee satisfaction and increased productivity.
According to the survey; nearly eight out of ten contact center managers saw the advantages of being able to employ qualified personnel from throughout the country and across time-zones. This business critical parameter was further underpinned when managers were asked their opinion on the advantages of the remote contact center agent model where (Figure 1: 87% of large contact centers and 72% of small contact centers listed); access to a well-qualified pool of candidates as an important parameter.
When asked whether employing remote agents is the future of contact centers in their area, (Figure 2: 72 percent of American contact center managers agreed, and 71 percent Indian contact center managers concurred).
“It is clear from our research that remote contact center agents represent the future of the industry, and we’re thrilled that contact center managers are joining us in seeing this important trend,” says Brendan Read, Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan. “As we look to the future, we expect this trend to expand rapidly as contact centers begin to witness the increases in retention, efficiency, and productivity we expect this model to provide.”
When asked to list the main disadvantages of the remote agent model, (Figure 5: 90% of all contact center managers cited the lack of everyday face to face communication with their employees and 77% cited slow internet connections as possible weaknesses).
There is no doubt that there are both advantages and disadvantages to the model, which will demand more and different things of the contact center management then today; both in terms of software and hardware, and people management. The new opportunities and challenges of the trend are to be reflected in the how well the trend is received by the different sizes in contact centers.
(Figure 3: According to the survey, especially the larger contact centers (84%) with more than 500 seats see the emergence of remote agents as an opportunity, whereas medium (69%) with between 100-500 seats and smaller contact centers (46%) with fewer than 100 seats are slightly more hesitant to adopt the model.
The remote contact center agent has very much the same requirements as the in-house agent. However whereas the in-house agent need to block out colleagues and possible noisy office equipment such as printers, the remote contact center agent needs to balance the sometimes not ideal acoustics of a home office as well as every day sounds like dogs barking or children crying. Figure 6: This is why 79% of American and 67% of Indian contact center managers) see the need for noise-cancellation headsets for their remote agents as well as their in-house agents.
“At Jabra, we are gratified to see that more than half of all contact center managers realize that headsets with noise-cancellation technologies can be critical to the success of their remote contact center agents,” says Holger Reisinger, Jabra Vice President of Marketing, Products and Alliances. “Designed to help remote agents concentrate fully on the task at hand Jabra headsets features proven technologies to reduce background noises.”
Jabra is the brand of GN Netcom, a subsidiary of GN Store Nord A/S (GN) - listed on NASDAQ OMX. Jabra employs approximately 850 people worldwide and in 2011 produced an annual revenue which amounted to DKK 2,106 million. Jabra is a world leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad range of hands-free communications solutions. With a reputation for innovation, reliability, and ease of use that goes back more than two decades, Jabra’s consumer and business divisions produce corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that empower individuals and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality.
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