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The Benefits and Drawbacks of Virtual Call Centers

Business 2 Community recently posted an article on how to decide if a virtual call center is for your business. A summary of that article is below:

Companies are choosing the virtual call center model as a cost-effective alternative to maintaining a bricks-and-mortar space where service agents sit at workstations. Importantly, the virtual call center is not simply outsourcing operations to a foreign country, where employees work from a dedicated space. It is as its name implies, a virtual network of agents who access phone lines via company software on their home computers for designated shifts. Therefore, you could theoretically be talking to someone halfway across the world working from his or her kitchen table. The virtual call center model is not for everybody, but it could be a good fit for your business.

Here’s an overview of key benefits and drawbacks to determine whether a virtual call center is right for you:

Benefits of Virtual Call Centers

1. A virtual call center is cost-effective

Since employees work from home, your business does not have the overhead costs of running a bricks-and-mortar operation. A Cisco study noted that one company saved $277 million annually by allowing employees to telecommute. The same study found that working from home significantly increased employee productivity and job satisfaction too.

2. Happier employees translate to lower turnover

There’s an expenditure associated with employee turnover, usually measured by how much it costs to find, recruit and train a new employee to fill the slot. Companies are embracing telecommuting as an employee retention tool. That’s another way they are saving costs.

3. Virtual employees offer flexibility for your company

If you’re looking for the best employees for the job, you’re no longer limited geographically. You also benefit from employees located in various time zones. Now you can be responsive to your customers 24/7, if you wish.

4. They protect against localized catastrophes.

When a power outage occurs or a regional disaster, you are not limited to employees in that geographic region. You have backups in other parts of the world.

5. Eliminating the commute to work reduces employee stress and helps the environment.

Virtual employees don’t have to battle rush hour or spend hours in traffic. They also can work during snowstorms or other weather events that might close bricks-and-mortar businesses. Since employees also are not commuting via cars, trains or buses, your company is helping to lower the amount of vehicle emissions and fuel usage.

Drawbacks of Virtual Call Centers

1. Training a remote workforce can be challenging.

Your customer service representatives are the face of your company. The initial training period is important so they can represent you, and your products or services, in accordance with your mission. But training a remote workforce requires some creativity. Companies use online training, and video and audio conferencing, to circumvent this challenge. Some companies require employees to attend an in-person training session at a bricks-and-mortar site before working at home.

2. There is no direct oversight with a remote workforce.

Companies must determine how they will measure worker effectiveness and productivity. Some companies pay employees only for the phone time engaged with a customer.

3. It is more difficult to provide IT services to remote workers.

Virtual employees usually are connected via computer software. When something goes wrong, that means the company has to intervene to fix it—often remotely.

4. Lack of social interaction may be an issue for some remote workers.

Many workers are happier at home, but some find telecommuting to be isolating. In addition, sometimes it is helpful for workers to talk to others about common problems. That happens naturally in an office environment, but not often in a virtual one.

5. It is harder to build team spirit among a remote workforce.

Since the workforce is dispersed geographically, it’s unlikely that employees will know each other, let alone develop camaraderie.

6. Miscommunication is more prevalent across a cultural divide.

Utilizing a worldwide workforce means you’ll be employing people of different cultures. Remember that communications styles vary from culture to culture, and misunderstandings may occur.

 

Outsource Consultants are call center experts with over 25 years of outsourcing industry experience that have spent thousands of hours vetting and analyzing the strengths and specializations of the industry-leading outsource call center vendors. If you’re considering call center outsourcing, simply call 888-766-4482 or request a free call center cost proposal today and we’ll help you find the solution that best fits your exact requirements.