Magazine article CRM Magazine

"Going Green" in the Contact Center: Reduce Costs and Improve the Customer Experience While Making a Positive Impact on the Environment

Magazine article CRM Magazine

"Going Green" in the Contact Center: Reduce Costs and Improve the Customer Experience While Making a Positive Impact on the Environment

Article excerpt

"Going green" has increasingly become a hot topic of conversation.

At every level of the business community there is a growing desire to reduce environmental impact, from reducing CO2 emissions to improving energy efficiency. Yet even as many business leaders realize the importance of "going green" they continue to be concerned that these new initiatives will raise costs and impact profitability.

The good news is that "going green" in the contact center is a win-win situation. New contact center technologies not only reduce environmental impact, but also simultaneously reduce costs and improve the customer experience. With virtual contact center technology, agents can work from home rather than in a traditional onsite contact center. Moving to a distributed model reduces carbon emissions, eases traffic congestion and lowers pollution as agents eliminate trips back and forth to a central location. The remote agent value proposition is a green initiative that delivers shareholder value while helping to reduce the depletion of natural resources and the negative impact on the environment.

In addition to green benefits, virtual call center technology lowers costs and improves the customer experience. Moving to a distributed model reduces the cost of maintaining brick and mortar centers and minimizes energy consumption. Organizations can also benefit from a more efficient scheduling system that takes advantage of the more flexible schedules that agents can work when not constrained to a physical location. Customer satisfaction is improved by enabling businesses to staff more effectively by increasing the pool of part-time agents and experts in different areas too far for a traditional commute. In addition, with a more flexible pool of agents, organizations can staff up quickly to manage spikes in traffic.

Home-based or remote agents is one of the fastest growing segments of the contact center industry today. The home-based agent workforce in the U.S. is approximately 500,000 strong and growing. It is estimated that the average remote agent saves over 450 gallons of gas per year by eliminating their commute to and from the office. And with each reduction in daily commute by car, these agents are eliminating carbon emissions as well. Experts estimate that by eliminating the need for agents to commute to a centralized contact center, these agents are reducing carbon emissions by as much as 3 million tons per year. If each of the 15 million call center agents in the U.S. were to move to working from home, it would result in reductions of more than 90 million tons of carbon emissions per year.

The technology that enables businesses to utilize home-based agents is often called virtual contact center technology. With this technology, agents can work efficiently from anywhere in the world with 360-degree views into customer interactions and real-time business intelligence. Virtual call center technology enables calls to be seamlessly routed over VOIP or to home phone lines, with corresponding customer data available to agents over the web on their home PCs with a secure connection to enterprise CRM information. Even though agents are working remotely, virtual call center technology captures every interaction and provides a unified view of each customer, enhancing customer satisfaction and driving down support costs by enabling agents to resolve service requests in one call.

One situation that many organizations are struggling with is how to cost effectively supplement traditional brick and mortar contact centers with remote agents to address real-time staffing needs such as seasonal spikes in traffic, or to implement a disaster recovery system in case of an emergency. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, blizzards and firestorms no longer need to bring a business to a grinding halt. With virtual contact center technology, agents can login remotely from home and start taking calls, or traffic can be diverted to another center. …

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