A premises-based approach is appropriate for the company, product or service that involves more complex processes and more in-depth knowledge. It’s also the right approach for the program in which high quality assurance and productivity are required.
This is because representatives who work on-site, rather than at home, operate under conditions of closer work performance oversight from program managers, QA supervisors and customer service senior managers. There also are better teamwork and knowledge sharing among the customer service team. They can easily share their experiences dealing with order processing issues, customer questions and the needs of the operations team.
If a premises-based representative articulates an inaccurate or off-target message while on a customer call, the program manager can discuss the mistake with the rep in real time, better ensuring that the problem doesn’t happen again.
If the program team needs new instructions or corrective action, the program manager and other supervisors can hold impromptu training sessions. This is particularly true for programs involving upselling, cross-selling and other order maximization strategies. Sharing successful techniques among team members is a key to success and is much more effectively done when team members work together, on-site.
Finally, with premises-based call center programs senior company managers can observe the customer service team in action, share their observations with managers in the call center and in so doing inculcate a culture of perpetual customer service improvement.
On the other hand, call centers with virtual agents working at-home have a more difficult time instilling high quality assurance and productivity. Even motivated representatives with the best of intentions can’t always control domestic background noise coming over their phone as they talk with customers, noises such barking dogs, ambulance sirens, children arriving home from school and doors being slammed. This is not conducive to a quality image.
In addition, it’s more difficult to hold refresher training meetings and QA sessions with agents who are at home. Managers can’t know if employees are absorbing the lessons being taught – or if the reps are even listening. Problems within the program tend to remain problems for a longer time among virtual agents.
For all of these reasons, the virtual services model tends to work best for customer service programs that are relatively straightforward, uncomplicated and non-dynamic, for programs that stay mostly unchanged from one month to the next, and which do not involve high quality standards. These typically are programs in support of high-volume, low priced products and services.