Call Handling Remote Workers Given A Hard Time?

In the call answering and handling sector there are often articles, tips, news and warnings given about not using remote workers or home workers for call handling.

I can understand why there are so many views like this as unprofessional call answering and handling can be awful!

But the is a stereo-typical view of someone working at home with a dodgy skype headset, a laptop that they bought off ebay for a tenner, and their feet up watching Jeremy Kyle in their pyjamas is not very common!

Hear no evil 2 Martin Thomas via Compfight

Of course it’s not very professional for someone to call your business and try to have a conversation representing your business where there is a TV blaring, dog barking, baby crying, or DIY project making noise in the background.  Even boyfriends snoring on the sofa have been a problem.

However there are sometimes excellent and very professional home workers who a home working arrangement can work well for, for both the home worker, the agency and the client.

Having systems and controls in place ie; to be able to listen in to calls live or have call recordings available can help to ensure high quality call answering is maintained.

But above all what’s most important is Trust, The recruitment and selection process, and overall leadership and management support.

If you get that right you can have a bank of high quality and highly flexible resource for call answering.

I am upfront with my clients about use of the two people that I have on a remote working basis and they can opt to not use them if they wish however the feedback I have had is regularly excellent.

Maybe I should tell you a little bit more about these people.

Both people are suffering from long term sickness and disabilities. It’s difficult for them to temp or hold down a full time job in a traditional office environment. Of the illnesses and conditions they suffer from they both have “good days and bad days” which are their words not mine.

If they had a “bad day” or a day with a lot of hospital or doctors appointments working for a traditional employer it would usually mean they lose their pay, and end up feeling guilty for taking time off in a team environment. It may be unfair that people are made to feel that way but it is a fact of working life as not everyone in a team will feel sympathetic for all of the time.

As employers, time off for sickness or disabilities is a minefield with “fit notes” carrying a degree of risk for the employer. But, my view has always been to treat people how you would want to be treated yourself.

So I have two people in my team who work from home at times that are mutually agreeable to both them, me and my clients. They work on outbound mostly but with some inbound during peak times. And like anything else here at Maxxy their skills and set up is suited to particular campaigns and clients.

Their home environment is professional and I can hand on heart say that anybody calling would think they were in an office. They are professional call handlers and have a huge amount of skills and experience that they use when they are plugged in working.  Both of them are enormously over-qualified for the work they are doing at Maxxy but are happy with the flexibility they enjoy and being treated like grown ups 🙂

When I moved to our new office at Alms Close, Stukeley Meadows industrial estate one of the things I was looking forward to the most was having office noise around me rather than the noise that is on a housing area. Even though I had a large extension off the side of my house accommodating 6 desks there was still noise outside sometimes with DIY projects being the main culprit … so much so that I had to keep the windows shut for weeks sometimes!

Anyway imagine my horror when day one in our new premises an ice cream van pulls up right outside our office door with The Fast Food song blaring out!  At least now when the ice cream van comes around we can either take a break from the calls or route inbound to our homeworkers who sound more professional that the office staff!  (P.S. I have since asked the icecream van to stop outside a different door … kiljoy I know plus we have some better headsets to screen background noise).

Icecream Van

Colin Howley via Compfight (not the actual van that visits us but close!)

I just wanted to make this post to balance the views that are out there that homeworkers are unprofessional and rubbish when it comes to call answering and handling as if the employer gets it right then it can be a fabulous addition to a team.


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