By Steve Mosser, founder and CEO of Sensée
Imagine this scenario: you make two calls – one to your home insurance provider to make a claim after a long power cut. After a bit of a wait, you finally get through to an agent. It’s noisy. She can’t hear you well and you can’t hear what she’s saying. “Systems are slow today,” she says.
She’s friendly, but you’re worlds apart. There is little empathy and you can feel the disconnect. To top it all, you detect a lack of focus. Eventually, the job is done (she says it, is but is it really?) and you hang up. Next, you need to call your car insurance provider. You dial with a sigh…
One ring and the phone is answered. On the other end a warm and competent lady. She reassures you from “hello.” It’s quiet, you hear clearly and she hears you too. “Oh I’m so sorry to hear that, let me see what I can do to help,” she says.
She understands your frustrations, and she’s always one step ahead of you, seemingly anticipating what you need. She also points out that your policy allows you to do more than you thought. The call finishes, you hang up in disbelief. You feel you were treated with respect, and given outstanding service.
You remember that your policy is due for renewal and think that there are probably more competitive rates out there. After this second conversation however, you don’t want to go anywhere else.
The first call was answered in a contact centre. The second was answered by a homeworker.You may not realise it, but when you call up the likes of Argos, Aviva or the RAC, the person on the end of the line may very well be working from home.
The general public’s perception of a homeworker is someone who works from their kitchen table or sofa and sends a few emails in between feeding small children and running domestic chores.
The reality is exactly the opposite: homeworkers are focused professionals who work from a dedicated work space in their homes, making their work highly efficient, effective and accountable to the business. The results and benefits are so formidable, and the homeworking solutions now so advanced, that many of the UK’s biggest brands are entrusting thousands of homeworkers with their brands.
Without doubt, the business benefits are clear. Whilst much focus has been on the cost reduction aspects of the model, what’s been overlooked are the quality benefits. Yet home agents are more suited to deliver great customer service all round.
From a recruitment perspective, why should businesses be restricted to hiring only local people when you can tap into a world-wide talent pool? For example, if you are in need of Polish speakers and your customer service centre is in Cardiff, your options may be limited. However by tapping into the homeworking community, you will be able to recruit people from any UK region. And there are a fair few Polish speakers in Poland too at your disposal.
Aligning the right agents to the customer base is the secret to great customer service. Finding the right agent has always been a challenge, but homeworking overcomes geographic restrictions and enables access to an extensive, untapped talent pool which undeniably gives businesses much greater options to improve the end customer experience.
So why now?
Homeworking has moved on from its initial conception about 15 years ago – more or less limited to some management roles that ‘worked from home from time to time’ – to finally being applicable cost-effectively for frontline CSR roles.Technology has progressed to facilitate this.
Today, high-speed broadband and home computing are pervasive and key enablers for homeworking. The technology now exists to support every single imaginable business process virtually, while providing employers with the highest levels of visibility, control, security, compliance, scalability and resilience.
Pressures from legislation such as the Disability Act and increased Corporate Social Responsibility programmes within large businesses has forced management to accept homeworking as a more acceptable option for employees.And last but not least, the evolution of virtual processes – such as recruitment, training and coaching – has also led us to where we are today, Homeworking 2.0.