Working from home is such a rewarding experience – you get to make money while staying with your family at your own house. You can schedule your work shifts around your home schedule, placing it during your home’s off peak hours, or at the quietest hours of the day. This is what we call home-based call center.
One very interesting thing you can do while staying at home is to make money with a home based call center. This trendy new concept of a virtual call center at home has caught on in recent years, brought about by the practice of companies to outsource their customer support calls to save on operating costs.
Instead of setting up workplaces for their call support department, smart companies outsource their call overflows or the whole call center operations to business process outsourcing companies. Some of these companies also hire home-based call center agents. A benefit of outsourcing this way is not having to pay for the idle time of home-based call center agents as the latter are paid for each call or each minute spent on the phone.
While most companies outsource their customer service calls to call centers overseas, this has been subjected to some degree of backlash especially in the United States. Hence, more and more companies in recent years prefer to hire home-based call center workers to take their calls for order-taking, sales and troubleshooting, using the internet and call-routing technology.
This “homeshoring” and home-based call center trend has created a unique kind of workforce such as stay-at-home parents, part-time college students, caretakers, differently-abled people, or anyone who stays at home and has time to devote to some virtual work.
Outsourcing gives companies a flexible workforce that can kick into gear in cases of call overflows. The flexibility works both ways: the home-based employees also enjoy the flexibility of working at home in their home office and doing away with daily commutes to work. They can also schedule their work shifts around their home schedule and, as they are around the house the whole day, may not have to pay for child care.
There are companies that hire work-at-home call center agents either to provide the service to their clients or utilize these services themselves. But whoever the end user, the kind of job the call center agent can expect are customer service, inbound sales, telemarketing, technical support, third-party verification, appointment setting, outbound calling, market research, and outbound surveys.
If you’re wondering what kind of skills are needed for this kind of engagement, the requirements will vary depending on the type of work. The basic would be to have skills in handling customer service over the telephone, but experience in retail and hospitality work would be an advantage as well. And if you are bilingual, that’s a big plus.
Other qualities companies look for are professional phone presence, good communication skills, basic math and writing skills, attention to detail, basic knowledge of computer programs and word processing systems, and skills in troubleshooting and software and hardware installation.
To start your virtual call center job, you need to make an investment in home office equipment and technology that meet the company’s needs, such as an up-to-date computer, essential software, high speed internet access or broadband connection, and one or two separate landline phones.
There might be fees to cover as home-based call center, but you should be careful to determine if the company you’re looking to hire you as a home-based call center agent is not bogus and just out to dupe you into giving up your hard earned money. The rule of thumb is that it is the hiring company pays you, even for your training, so be wary of companies that charge you for anything before hiring you.
However, there are some legitimate companies that will ask you to pay to cover their expenses in conducting a background check on you, if they are interested to hire you. You are better off paying this one-time fee only when you are offered the position. Your warning bells should be raised when you are asked to pay for any of the following types of fees: testing costs, training, application fees, charges for software and equipment, and any recurring charges.
You need to have a quiet space at home where you can work well without distractions. Some companies will require you to work in a home office or an enclosed room where you can focus on your tasks.
You get paid on a per minute, per hour, or per call basis. The per minute and per hour rates only cover the actual time spent on the phone; the time spent waiting for calls are not paid. What if there are very few calls or no calls at all? You need to find out if you can expect a minimum payment if this is the case.
Find out what your average hourly pay will be, so you can compare the rate with other hiring companies. At the same time, factor in any cost that you will be incurring while doing your work, for instance, investment on any required software or hardware, or the additional phone line, or even child care. Average rate per hour is around $8. As you go along and gain more experience and knowledge, you’ll find you can ask for a higher rate considering your stronger skills and improved competence.
For jobs involving sales, there would be a sales incentive plan normally involving a commission. You need to find out if there is a basic pay and what the exact figure of the commission would be. If you will be paid only on commission basis, inquire if the company provides sales leads to help you in your sales work.
The number of hours you need to dock in varies depending on the company that hires you. Some will require a minimum number of hours while others do not, and you may be required to work nights or on weekends. Some may hire you on a per project basis for their individual client, which means you will need to apply again for work with another client in the future.
Pritam Nagrale is a blogger & internet marketer from Mumbai. He writes about online business, make money online tips, work from home ideas, you can check his blog moneyconnexion.com . He also provides the career oriented classroom training from his Mumbai office. You can follow him on Google+.