Do You Want to be a Home Agent?
These are the 10 steps that will help you understand where to find the jobs and what it’s like to a Home Agent. Watch the related video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8HJXjsvAUg&t=339s
The sections are as follows:
Where to Find Home Agent Positions
The Different Job Options
Your Application and Resume
The Technology Bits
Your Home Office Environment
Five Important Things to Know Before You Sign
What to Expect in Training
That First Week or Two After Training
In The Grove - Daily Life of a Home Agent
Career Growth where you can take your skills to the next level
1. Where to Find the Jobs
The information I provide here is directed at people like you, seeking employment in the US or Canada as a Work at home Customer Service Agent.
In the US, Craigslist is a very popular website for home agent positions. Go to www.craigslist.com. And type in the search window “ Home Agents” or “Work at Home”
www.indeed.com - Search “Home Agent” or “Remote Agent” or “Work at Home”. Indeed likes to default you to your town or city. Leave that blank to ensure you get the highest number of results.
For Indeed.ca use the same Search terms as the US “Home Agent”, “Remote Agent” or “Work at Home”.
For Both Countries
Here is another great source of home agent positions. Outsourcing Companies. Outsourcers are companies who specialize in providing support services to companies with large numbers of customers. Think Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Bell, Telus and many many others.
I’ll give you a link at the end of the video so you can see the companies names their;
And Employment type - Independent Contractor or an Employee
This is not a complete list by any means. You may find other companies I have not mentioned here, and that’s great.
Just know that there are lots and lots of opportunities out there in this quickly growing market.
US and Canadian based employers cannot hire home agents outside of their respective country.
Yes, the technology does allow you to be a Home Agent based in Iceland and work for a company headquartered in Tampa, but US and Canadian government regulations get a bit sticky about that.
Do yourself a favour and only apply to companies offering jobs in the country you live and are eligible to work in.
And Not every company employs people in every state or province. Some companies have chosen not to work in specific states and provinces. Mostly for economic or regulatory reasons.
So make sure the company you apply to is offering jobs in your state or province.
2. The Different Job Options - This is Really Really Important
Of the many outsourcing companies, I listed, some of them require you to be an independent contractor.
Although it may sound sexy being your own boss, setting your own hours, etc. If this is your first try at being a Home Agent, I would suggest you go down the employee route first.
Here are the reasons why I suggest that:
Contract work can stop at any time.
You must cover, your own benefits costs. (In the US that is a big deal, and can be very expensive)
You must calculate and pay your own taxes.
You will not be eligible for unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits.
You may not be eligible for overtime pay. Depends on your contract.
To name a few. See the link at the end for a full list of reasons.
So, do your homework and check out all the differences before you commit.
If you decide to go down this road, look at https://workingsolutions.com/who-we-are/careers/ They have many good reviews from current and former employees.
3. Your Application and Resume
You need a resume that details your previous work experience.
The most important thing that the contact center is going to look for is reliability, dependability and staying power. They are going to invest time and money into training you, so they want to make sure that you will stay with the company.
In your resume, find a way to outline your reliability and dependability. If you can show reliability and dedication along with previous customer service experience, it's going to enhance your chances of getting hired.
You should also state that you're flexible and that you're willing to work evenings, weekends and extra hours as required if that is true.
It is a fact, that new hires tend to get the less than ideal shifts. You should expect that starting off.
Some companies will ask you to sign a document stating that you know that your shift can change and that you must be flexible.
This is where you're going to have to be honest with yourself and with the company that is hiring you. Let them know what you truly can do in terms of working hours.
If you have some restrictions because of schooling, religion or family commitments, it's best to state that up front so that they know ahead of time.
Pick the Best Job for You
At one end of the Home Agent scale, the jobs that support Apple iOS or Macs can be very demanding.
Then on the other side, there are simpler call types such as taking orders for Pizza.
Pizza orders are going to be high demand for a few hours of the day, think lunchtime, dinner time, Friday night & Saturday night. Whereas Technical support programs are more evenly distributed over many more hours during the day.
Certain jobs may better suit your personal needs more than others. Therefore, it is always good to state the type of work you want and the hours that work best for you.
Find out about training times and the duration. Some training courses can be up to 6 weeks of full-time classes.
4. Let’s Talk Technology
To be an effective home agent, you're going to have to have and pay for reliable internet and telephone service.
In some cases, certain companies will need you to have a separate and dedicated wired telephone line. VoIP telephone services are not always adequate.
If you have spotty reliability or slow internet speeds, it’s going to be difficult for you to work effectively. Slow internet and service outages are going to negatively impact your job.
Remember most companies will run a remote test that can check your internet speed and telephone service - be open to that when asked.
If you don’t have Internet and phone service now, It may take a couple weeks to get it installed. Schedule that appropriately, if you have a starting date already.
Your computer: The company will either ask you to supply your own computer or they will supply it for you.
If you must supply your own equipment, then they will provide you with a minimum technical standard for your PC or laptop. Again, best to get this information early in the hiring process.
Hiring companies have the ability to test your computer to ensure it meets their standards.
You may also be required to download some software that will secure your computer during your work times. This is not unusual, and companies do it to ensure that the service is secure and compliant to their requirements.
Don’t spend more than you should on a computer. Ask the company what they recommend. Often it will be the right choice.
If you can't afford a computer or the one you have is not reliable, then look for a company who supplies that equipment.
Apple and the companies that work with Apple (Concentrix, Transcom, Xerox) are prime examples where they supply all the desktop equipment.
Be ready to sign for its value. If you break or lose their gear, you will have to pay the cost to replace it.
Oh, if you're thinking about using the excuse that your dog ate your computer, sorry that’s already been used, honest.
5. Your Home Office Environment
Another requirement companies are going to have is that you have a quite undisturbed work environment, such as a den, spare room or office - somewhere where the noise from your friends, family, or loud pets can be blocked out during the time that you are working.
This is important because if you are talking to important customers and they hear a crying baby or barking dogs or other unwanted noises then you risk your employment.
And this is a fair request. As both companies and customers expect that agents are going to be professional in their dealings with them.
I strongly recommend a room with a view, a window, some type of outlet where it’s possible to see and witness the outside world every now and then.
Have a comfortable chair. You will be amazed what a difference a good chair can make on your comfort and well-being.
You could be spending up to ⅓ of your day in that chair. So get a chair that your butt, your back and your arms will thank you for.
6. Five Important Things to Know Before You Sign
I have created for you, a Home Agent Company Check List that you can use to compare the different job offers you may receive.
It can also be used by you to ask some intelligent questions of the company that is hiring you.
Now, I don’t suggest you ask them every single question on the list, as there are nearly 2 pages of questions. But there are probably some questions that are very important to you. Use the list for that.
Hopefully, the information from the Company’s HR team will answer many of the questions in the Home Agent Company Checklist.
We cover these sections in the checklist;
Pay and Compensation
Type of Work
Training Times and Requirements
Visit the link you see on this page.
7. What to Expect in Training
Companies will expect you to attend every hour of training. It's not unusual in a contact center for training to be anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks. I even know of some cable training that is 6 weeks in duration.
It's important that you commit to being in training every hour of every day for the designated period. If you can't, let the trainer or the HR staff know. There should be no surprises. Maybe they will make an accommodation for you. But it is better than you to plan to ensure that you can attend the necessary training.
Training itself will be a mix of Self Study & Self-Paced and Instructor lead training.
Many companies use a virtual training room application like Adobe connect. That will connect the teacher to you.
If you get lost or just don’t get something that is being explained, then don’t be afraid to ask a question or two. I will guarantee you that other people will be lost as well.
If needed, find out where to get additional help. Ask if you can download any material to review outside of class time.
8. That First Week or Two After Training is Completed
Congratulations you have successfully passed training.
Make no mistake, this is absolutely the hardest most difficult time in the job.
It's difficult in the sense that you spent two, three possibly four weeks and training. In that time, they crammed your head full of all this information and now they expect you to be able to apply all of it accurately, effectively and successfully.
The truth of the matter is it just won't happen that easily. Like any job, it takes time to learn the ins and outs, and the shortcuts to the job before you gain confidence and feel comfortable about the answers you provide to your customers.
It's really important not to give up now. You may feel stupid, you may feel like you're never going to get it, but I can tell you, you will.
Give yourself a break, you will learn the job, it just takes time. Concentrate on giving the customer the right answer as opposed to the quickest answer.
I don't know a customer alive that if you said to them, “I'm new to this job, so if you can bear with me, give me a little bit of extra time, I will be pleased to help you.” They will be more than accommodating. In fact, it is a great rapport builder. People generally want you to do well.
Ask a lot of questions after training, confirm your understanding and you will gain your confidence in no time.
9. In The Groove - Daily Life as a Home Agent
Know what determines success in your program. Every contact center has metrics that tell how the team is performing and how individuals like you are performing.
Find out exactly what success means to your contact center. It may be a certain handle time, or it may be a certain customer satisfaction score, it may be many different things.
Your job will become much easier when you know what success is. Because once you have that target, you can aim for it and work hard to achieve it.
Know the metrics that makeup success. It's important that you get access to your daily metrics or stats. You should not go a day without knowing how you're performing on the key metrics.
Remember, good performance could get you a better shift, some bonus money or access to other types of work, like Email or Chat.
Avoid Cabin Fever. Although there are lots of benefits from working at home, one of the drawbacks is that you can feel isolated.
You can spend the entire day talking to 20, 40 or 60 different customers, but you can still feel alone. It is important throughout the day to get out of your room. Potentially get out of your apartment or house, go for a walk, get some fresh air, interact with other real live humans.
If you can't get out of your home office, then talk to some friends on the phone or on social media. Break up your day just a little bit so you have contact to the outside world.
10. Your Career Growth
If you became a Home Agent to earn extra money or it is a stop-gap position as you finish your education or you just needed a job before you move to another city, then all is good.
If you can and want to contribute more to your peers and the company you work for, then think about moving to the next level in your career by becoming a Team Leader.
A team leader is probably the least glamorous and yet most important job in the contact center industry. But it is one job that can open up so so many more doors in your career.
But you should know that it is a much tougher job than being a Home Agent. Tougher because you will be responsible for helping and leading 10 - 17 Home Agents like yourself.
If you want to take that step, after you have had at least 6 months’ experience as a home agent then watch this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnB8-3do-WU&t=341s
So, are you still thinking of being a home agent? I personally hope this information will help you find the right job and the right career.
I wish all the very best to you in your new future.
For the free copy of the related YouTube presentation, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .