Virtualization is a major keyword when businesses with huge transaction volumes discuss the need to increase flexibility, reach out to new talent markets and become more independent from brick and mortar (office-based) space limitations.
In order to cope with these requirements, the SELLBYTEL Group has launched a new service scope: the at home advisors (AHA).
We have been running our home office program for the client, a leading producer of IT lifestyle products, and specifically their online store project, since mid 2014. Due to the great success so far we have just expanded this to technical support.
We now want to take the opportunity and introduce you to our AHA approach, the goals, challenges and advantages.
What is it about?
Until recently our virtualization strategy included one central management team operating a consolidated service across multiple international sites. Now, we take this to the next level by managing, steering and developing agents who are literally working from home, in their own home office environment.
Why do we do it?
According to Thomas Soria-Galvarro, SELLBYTEL Vice President Global Key Accounts, “by implementing our AHA program we are able to support our client’s growth targets. That means we benefit from an extended candidate network for the available positions by exploring new growth regions, while having no space constraints”.
We are able to hire talent in regions that would not have been in our geographic reach. In other words, we can approach new regions with vast amounts of local and foreign speakers, reach out to a population with less job offers and also identify a different talent skillset.
We further utilize the extended daily time span an agent offers when he is working from home and does not have to commute in order to support the requested service hours’ coverage from the client. This can include weekend shifts, too.
Plus, we currently work on new working hour schemes in order to make our employment model even more attractive to the talent market.
So what are the advantages?
As noted above, the benefits resulting from our AHA program are manifold. They can be classified according to: employee, client and SELLBYTEL.
- Job offers in structurally weak regions
- Flexibility: e.g. part-time work management or multiple dayshifts
- Internet connection provided by SELLBYTEL
- Time management: no commuting necessary
Client & SELLBYTEL
- No space constraints being independent from brick & mortar environment
- Tapping into new geographic talent markets
- Extended candidate network
- Greater regional flexibility in the selection of employees
- Different skillset of people: we reach all types of people and age groups without limitations
What are the challenges and how do we deal with them?
At home advisors should not feel like they are disconnected from brick & mortar.
So the introduction of a buddy system after training creates a team character between brick & mortar and at home agents, whereby tenured agents support rookies during their ramp-up.
A high team-management awareness is mandatory. Hence our AHA agents have a management that regularly informs, coaches and provides feedback. This again helps establish an environment where at home agents feel that superiors take care of each personal issue in a proactive manner.
A playbook of process steps including guidelines on what to do in case of technical issues, relocation or any other job-related queries should be available. Besides, a highly accessible and skilled support-force taking care of logistics, IT support and admin topics needs to be activated.
Thomas Soria-Galvarro adds: “Finally, it is essential to brand employees both according to SELLBYTEL and the client. People should feel like a part of the client organization and appreciate the team building efforts as well as the positive SELLBYTEL spirit.
What are the prerequisites of tools and processes?
First and foremost, the provision of state-of-the-art systems and tools to track and monitor performance on a constant basis are essential. Clear processes and procedures must be in place and transparent for everyone.
The at home environment must also have the same data quality connection as brick & mortar. Therefore, an excellent data connection is obligatory.
High security standards and zero tolerance guidelines are important to prevent data misuse.
VILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) certified trainers provide the initial training almost completely virtualized. Consequently a professional collaboration tool must be in place for these sessions.
Real-time monitoring is further mandatory in conjunction with the collaboration platform, enabling team management and coaches to reach out and give feedback to employees. Vice versa agents can contact their superiors and office-based buddies at any time to get support in their day-to-day work.
Following a roadmap of self-guided training and webinars is essential and has to be completed by each agent on an ongoing basis to keep their knowledge at the highest possible level.
Overall, the systems and tools provided have to ensure maximum efficiency and transparent communication between management, coaches and agents. Finally, excellent conditions – both in human and technical terms – are key.
The following case example demonstrates the results of our strong focus on quality and personnel development.
Case example: leading producer of IT lifestyle products
We have been successfully running our home office program within the online store environment of our IT lifestyle client for almost two years now.
And the results so far have been quite impressive: we have seen very low attrition and unplanned absenteeism rates. Plus, the end-customer satisfaction level equals the one of office-based schemes. As a result, the client has been very pleased with our performance and is committed to grow even further in the AHA field.
Finally Thomas Soria-Galvarro explains: “Due to our client’s position as a benchmark leader in the area of customer satisfaction, our quality expectations are very high. However, our AHA has managed to fully meet these high quality standards by providing first-class service and product knowledge.”
Do you also want to benefit from our extraordinary quality? Get in touch!
Please also feel free to get back to Thomas Soria-Galvarro via Thomas.Soria-Galvarro@sellbytel.de with questions or feedback.