Selecting a contact center to outsource your vital functions like sales, customer service, help desk or back office support can be a daunting task. I like to keep things really simple. The nuts and bolts of what a center is provisioning is twofold. They really provision technology and people. What you want is a center that can give you a high quality of both for your investment. It sounds really simple but it’s harder to find than you think. Why you may ask? Most of it revolves around an antiquated business model in outsourcing where companies have these really nice, HUGE, and expensive buildings. These buildings are a bulk of the issue. They limit talent and technology in a vast number of ways.
After spending the better part of a decade in this environment I called it quits. I grew tired of having the same client calls around attrition, poor performance, and bad technology. I knew the answers but couldn’t share them. The truth was the budgetary constraints that having a brick and mortar center creates are real, and the financial impacts of those low margins always got pushed over to the agents and the technology. The owners sure as heck weren’t going to take that hit. So it left everyone in that same vicious cycle.
“We need better people! We need a better PBX! We need a stronger Workforce management platform! We need more spiffs! We need more schedule flexibility! We need lower attrition! We need better recruiting practices!” were the cries in the meetings day in and day out. My LEC partner Jon Juliano and I grew tired of this Groundhog’s Day like lifestyle and set out to find something different. When we uncovered some facts about virtual agent models we knew what we had to do. We opened our own center with no buildings or limits and called it Leading Edge Connections! We wanted to share some of those initial findings along with some others we have experienced along the way to assist others in making a better, less painful choice in an outsourced partner.
Here are 8 reasons virtual agents are superior to a traditional call center agent.
Virtual Agents come from a broader talent pool
There’s an incredible amount of great talent outside a call center. When you are geographically unbound to a particular local area, you can identify pools of talent that best fit your performance needs. A traditional brick and mortar contact center can only source local talent within driving distance. For example, Leading Edge Connections’ virtual agents are sourced nationwide searching and testing for the best skills, experience and performance DNA to excel at the position.
Virtual Agents are more experienced
While traditional brick and mortar contact center workers have an average of <5 years of work experience, virtual agents have an average of 15 years of work experience under their belts, according to the 2017 Liveops Agent Survey. Employees at traditional call centers are less experienced, more prone to turnover, and produce lesser results than true virtual home-based virtual agents. With greater experience come greater results, lower times to competency and higher quality interactions with customers.
Virtual Agents are more trustworthy
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, brick-and-mortar contact center employees are 300% more likely to commit theft or larceny than an agent who works from home. The same report noted that brick-and-mortar agents are 180% more likely than work-from-home agents to commit forgery or fraud. Great virtual agents are far less likely to commit these crimes. Why? With greater maturity, pay rates, and life experience, they understand the real consequences of bad actions and the benefits or great ones.
Virtual Agents are more educated
According to Frost & Sullivan, only 34 percent of traditional call center employees have attended some college. However, 81 percent of virtual agents—according to the Liveops survey—have attended college, and some have advanced degrees. Although the degrees may not be required or directly applicable to the position the abilities to attain those degrees are leveraged in the positions. Another benefit here revolves around brand growth. These more highly educated agents have a much higher capacity for growth than the average brick and mortar center agent.
Virtual Agents have greater flexibility
High performing virtual agents cite schedule flexibility as a key reason they are attracted to this work, and businesses achieve a nimbler customer service organization. With agents working from the comfort of their own homes the flexibility to increase or decrease coverage by shift becomes far easier. Think about it, there is no drive time for agents to get to “the office” and therefore it’s far easier for them to accept extra shifts or work untraditional shifts. Issues like public transportation that plague brick and mortar call centers disappear.
Virtual Agents have greater longevity
Attrition impacts everyone. In today’s market of job hoppers, it’s harder than ever to keep people on long enough to create experts. Virtual agents work in an entirely different model which rewards longevity and performance through call optimization. With our virtual agents, the Contact Center model has been reinvented. Happier agents equal happier customers, higher employee retention, and higher conversions… for real!
Virtual Agents are more productive
No minute or opportunity should be wasted. In the call center world productivity is the name of the game. It’s one of the many ways clients get the ROI they are looking for. Leveraging technology is one way but the other comes down to great people doing great work. Statistics have shown for years that high productivity is a result of skilled, experienced, well trained, adequately work loaded, happy team members. Because of the aforementioned points, and because a great agent model rewards for performance and overall work efficiency, virtual agents outperform brick and mortar agents day in and day out. It’s not even an apples to apples comparison. Therefore,
Virtual Agents are more relatable
Another way to say this is that virtual agents have a higher capacity for empathy. One of the challenges faced by traditional brick and mortar contact centers is finding empathetic agents. Some of that struggle comes from geographic recruiting restrictions. Another component is low pay which then causes lower tenured candidates. However, virtual agents can be sourced from anywhere in the US, including rural communities where employment options are limited, but language and cultural knowledge are second nature. Highly relatable and empathetic agents drive customer interactions, increase repeat customer business, lower repeat callers and improve overall sales conversions on sales calls. This benefit is a product of several aforementioned benefits in this article.
The facts are in! A true virtual work at home model is the way to go if you want to have a successful outsourcing experience. It’s the only way to guarantee yourself high quality call, text, chat, email or overall service interactions to drive your business. It’s one of the primary reasons that Leading Edge Connections has been a 100% virtual model since day one. We believe in the power of great people doing great work!