The very prospect of working from home oozes nothing but initially positive connotations with regards to assumed, lenient working schedules and carefree surroundings. Although home agents perform many, if not all, of the exact same tasks as their office based counterparts, the fundamentals of working from home are commonly distorted and misinterpreted.
Although commuting costs and frustrating traffic tailbacks are immediately no longer a headache, and the traits of a physical center environment are a distant memory, home agents are expected to maintain the exact same degree of professional commitment and self-motivation as office based agents. Let’s face it, providing a first class service and going the extra mile for every customer, irrespective of physical location, is the ultimate goal for any center.
With the greatest of intentions at heart, many home agents ponder and question how they can maintain a consistent working attitude without becoming distracted by everyday household duties and comforts.
Thankfully, The Call Center School are here to help. As we continue on our quest to help agents exceed customer expectations on every single interaction, we’ve zoned in on the hot topic of working from home to bring you our ten top tips.
There’s no time like the present. Let’s get started!
#1: Be crystal clear about your working hours
Your working hours are as important at home as they are in the center. For home agents, it’s important that friends and family members appreciate your working hours and the fact that you don’t have the luxury of aimlessly walking away from your desk.
Reinforce the hours you work at home by advising family members and friends of your working hours on a regular basis, so they’re aware of your schedule. It’s also a great idea to clearly post your hours of operation at home for everyone to quickly refer to.
#2: Create a comfortable working environment
Cramped in a corner of your kitchen, physically restricted by the short cable on your headset or telephone, and becoming increasingly enraged with an untidy working area doesn’t immediately emit the positive vibes required to efficiently work from home.
In order to maintain a calm, collected mindset, it’s important to establish a dedicated workspace with no distractions. While it may sound trivial to create something of a physical, well-organized office space similar to the all too familiar environment in your center, it really does spur concentration and productivity. What’s more, to eliminate disruption to your efforts, everything you require to provide dedicated customer care from home should be readily accessible within reaching distance.
#3: Define and adhere to your physical boundaries
Avoiding interruptions can be a huge challenge for home agents. There’s a general misconception that because agents work from home, they’re not technically working. During the working hours stipulated in your contract of employment, you should ensure all family members and friends understand and appreciate that you're working commitments are as important at home as they would be if you were physically at the center.
Remember, the boundaries you define from the offset to eliminate interruptions throughout your working day are only as effective as they’re enforced.
#4: Get dressed every morning
Let’s squash the misconception that home agents respond to customers in their fluffy sleepwear or favorite sweatpants here and now!
While we aren’t your parents or legal guardians, we feel it important to hit the message home that getting dressed as you would before commuting to the center helps agents maintain a logical working routine every day.
#5: Your kitchen is a no-go area
As our stomachs gurgle and burp with hunger throughout the day, there’s nothing more satisfying than an impromptu snack from the biscuit barrel or rustling up a swift, magical meal in the kitchen.
With your daily tasks and targets at the forefront of your mind at all times, the disciplined process of taking regular, scheduled breaks really is key. Never worry, your impressive lunchtime dishes are welcome during the time allocated to you for suitable breaks. What's more, it’s also important to apply the same thinking to cigarette breaks.
#6: You aren’t at home when you’re working from home
When you’re actively interacting with customers on the call floor, do you take personal calls or reply to text messages on your cell phone? We thought not. Well, working from home is no exception.
Should your mailbox clatter, doorbell sound, or telephone ring during the hours you work at home, it’s important to place working commitments at the top of your list of priorities. Always keep in mind customer expectations. As a result, you won’t be inclined to set your daily priorities aside to respond to personal matters.
#7: Don’t make personal appointments during working hours
While niggling toothaches and sporadic colds and flu are an all too common burden for us all, slipping away from your home office during working hours to attend an appointment have never, and will never be, well-received by your supervisors or customers.
Just as you would in a physical center, ensure any personal appointments accommodate your current schedule, further minimizing disruption to your working day.
#8: Management of your daily priorities matters
When the laundry basket is overflowing, breakfast dishes are mounting, or there’s an addictive TV season that everyone’s talking about on the Tweetosphere, it can be extremely difficult to focus time and effort on daily work commitments.
By managing your daily priorities and efficiently focusing your efforts around a definitive schedule, daily objectives and targets are clear-cut, making it easier to meet specific service levels and ultimately deliver an exceptional customer experience.
#9: Motivate yourself daily
It comes as absolutely no surprise that home agents work independently, with no physical center hierarchy or supervisory presence to keep agents on their toes and reinforce the significance of active customer engagement.
When you’re surrounded by mounting daily chores and tempting home comforts, the ability to continually self-motivate yourself in an isolated, home based environment is much more difficult than many give credit for. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to always remember that customer requirements come first and expectations matter, using the facts to form a basis for your motivation.
#10: Keep in touch with your fellow colleagues
Here at The Call Center School, we’ve previously expressed our disagreement at the common consensus that working from home is an isolated means of customer service, in comparison to responding to customers on a bustling call floor.
While learning by collective involvement means the world to us, we feel keeping in touch with fellow peers in your center helps shape consistent customer service efforts, facilitates the ability of sharing knowledge and experiences, and aids the process of asking for assistance when you need it most.
Although the ability to peek over a physical cubical and talk face-to-face with other agents isn’t a feasible option when you’re working at home, utilizing any internal communication tools supported by your center helps keep team members synchronized.
We care about the service your customers receive
While we could spend endless hours discussing the fundamentals of working from home in all it’s glory, two takeaway messages continually spring to mind.
First and foremost, for working from home to have a positive, parallel impact on customer service expectations and retention, agents must possess a well-versed, self-motivated mindset to work without any physical interaction surrounding them daily.
Secondly, and equally as important; regardless of the countless benefits your website banner demonstrates about your product or service, customers frankly don’t care where agents are located. Be it a warm, inviting office surrounding, comfortable home office, or customer service via homing pigeon, customers expect and appreciate acknowledgment from very beginning of any interaction, and expect nothing less than a timely resolution to their query or issue.
It’s quite unfortunate that we don’t employ a dedicated bird whisperer to help our homing pigeons deliver exceptional customer service (yet!). Nevertheless, you’re in good hands. Not only do we understand your agents. We understand the essential requirements and expectations of your customers.
We’re available anytime for a chat. Feel free to get in touch!