Which is better: on-premise or work from home call center agents? The decision is not as clear-cut as you might think. There are pros and cons to both and it’s important to weigh all the options before making a decision.

For any product or service industry, keeping in touch with customers most effectively is a major challenge. Although we are all familiar with on premise call centers, remote call centers can also provide the best customer experience in the cheapest and simplest manner. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a scenario of social distancing and remote working. The global business continuity was drastically affected, destroying the economies of many countries. Since the resurgence of the pandemic is bringing back lockdowns in many places, the call centers and customer service providers are doing their best to provide continuous service through work from home call center agents. Most customers are now looking for options to have their queries resolved over telephone calls, chat or email so that they can avoid physical visits to a store. But the question is whether your call center can provide excellent business continuity during these tough times. 

The field of information and technology is evolving with new automation tools becoming available almost every day. This makes a virtual call center viable and attractive since it can increase the return on investment, reduce overhead costs, and eliminate the cost of physical locations. However, an on-premise call center is more equipped to provide a personalized customer service. The agents and supervisors have close interaction with each other due to which they deliver better outcomes.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of work from home agents and on premise agents for providing excellent customer support

On-premise vs. work from home agents

Even before COVID-19 virtual call centers were growing in the world. However, COVID-19 has forced many companies to speed up and implement work from home agents to meet the demands of the pandemic. With the looming crisis, remote work is becoming the new norm. 

So, which one is right for your call center? The choice is not easy and call centers have to weigh the pros and cons of on premise and remote work agents while making a decision. 

On-premise agents -Pros
A call center that uses on-premise agents gains more control on their activities. They have an in-house data storage and use secure networks so that they meet all compliance requirements. Since the agents have easy access to trainers, supervisors, technology, peers and other resources, they have an increased opportunity for learning, networking and connecting with management and peers. 

Whenever agents need assistance or coaching, they are immediately heard by their supervisors, who can train them more effectively. Such person-to-person interaction benefits customer service and sales staff. This also provides agents more opportunities to participate in cross-functional projects. Companies find that agents are better acquainted with company brand and culture when they work on premise.

On-premise agents – Cons

On-premises call centers are typically more expensive in terms of their setup. Installing the equipment has to be done by the provider at your place of work. Depending upon the amount of time it takes to install the equipment and the cost of it, charges can accumulate. Phone systems need to be maintained physically.  In addition, you’ll have to upgrade the equipment every few years because phone technology depreciates. Depending on call center site location, overhead costs can also be high. Besides, in light of COVID-19 safety issues, on-premise call centers need to make changes to work environments and procedures to ensure employee safety.

Work from home agents – Pros
By hiring work from home agents, call center companies can save time and money. The company will save money by not spending extra on IT equipment as remote workers use their own equipment. They also do not have to pay its agents during off-seasons. Staffing costs could be reduced. It’s a great way to avoid the hassles related to managing a large team.
Employees benefit from flexible schedules in addition to improved work-life balance. Furthermore, it enables an on-demand workforce that can be rapidly scaled up or down as needed. As a result, the call center can maintain business continuity during a crisis or disaster.

Work from home agents – Cons
The biggest disadvantage of remote work is the security issue that arises when workers work offsite.  Businesses must rely completely on the employees to protect sensitive information when working off-site. Another disadvantage of employing remote workers is limited training. Call centers often struggle with training agents who work off-site. A videoconference and telephone call are the only available options and are usually not as effective as face-to-face training.
Managing/monitoring the day to day activities of remote employees can be difficult. A lack of dedicated workspace causes agents to be distracted in the home. Moreover, remote workers do not feel a sense of belonging and may not fully share call center values and culture. 

What to consider?

There are pros and cons to both on-premise and remote call center agents, so it’s important to consider the needs of your company and your customers when making the decision. On-premise call center agents are best for companies that have a lot of staff or need a lot of hands-on management. Remote call center agents are best for companies that don’t need a lot of staff and can trust their agents to work independently.

The choice is completely based on the nature of your business.

SBL offers world-class call center services to support your customers round the clock and ensure that their issues are resolved on time. Contact our Online BPO division to know more.