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Home-based agents help keep holidays happy for cash-strapped retailers

Let’s face it – the Internet has made comparing prices before you buy a no-brainer. Recent surveys show that consumers are more cost conscious than ever before, which means they will accept nothing less than the lowest price. Increased competition and mounting expense pressures have prompted retailers to turn over every rock in an effort to control costs. Every area of a retailer’s business is now under intense scrutiny and divisions previously thought of as “expense” centers, are being required to either generate revenue or be eliminated.

Cost Center to Profit Producer

When faced with “reduce costs or else” scenarios, anything not directly generating revenue can be on the chopping block. Even when you know how important providing quality customer support is, short-term needs often take priority. Luckily, there is a new option for retailers – one that would have been considered crazy until just a few years ago.  Using home-based agents might not only be less expensive, but could actually help you sell more products and services.

In fact, retailers may be surprised to learn that home-based agents are proven to deliver top quality service at a lower overall price than agents working in traditional call centers. Whether retailers use their own work-from-home agents or partner with a virtual at-home contact center, they can save money through higher quality service, more efficient operations and higher revenues.  

First of all, hiring agents who work from home means that employers can hire the best people, wherever they may be located.  For example, retailers can scour the nation to find and hire customer service professionals who also have purchased their products online or shopped at their retail locations. 

Second, the type of agents who work from home are very different than those working in a traditional center. With an average age of 40, 80%+ college-educated and 15-20 years of work/ life experience, at-home workers often have greater empathy for callers. Connecting on a personal level with consumers can result in more efficient calls, higher first call resolution rates and improved up-selling or cross-selling capabilities.

Finally, as retailers are well aware, operating a traditional call center can be expensive – very expensive. Facility costs, furniture and fixtures, property taxes, utilities, and physical security expenses can exceed $10 million annually for many large call centers. When agents work from home, however, most of these expenses are eliminated. 

A New Solution to a Pressing Problem

Businesses can lose up to 10 customers for every one that complains of poor service. But, reducing costs doesn’t have to mean lower customer care. By using highly qualified, home-based agents, customers will receive outstanding services and retailers can enjoy the full financial benefits of shopping all year long. 

Rob Duncan is COO of Alpine Access Inc. Rated the #1 contact center and CRM outsourcer for client satisfaction by the Black Book of Outsourcing, Alpine Access provides customer service and technical support to Fortune 1000 companies in the financial services, communications, technology, healthcare, retail, travel and hospitality sectors. For more information, visit the Alpine Access website at www.alpineaccess.com