Cox Communications has been hosting best practice meetings with other organizations in the Phoenix market that also manage large contact centers. During a best practices meeting the managers and team leaders of Cox’s 1400 seat call center share their insights with their peers concerning a wide range of issues. It’s been a very valuable experience for everyone involved and has led to some insightful discussions.
Below is an example of a presentation we use for a best practices meeting focused on work at home or the virtualization of the agent. We discuss what we think are the four pillars of work at home: management techniques, hiring strategies, training techniques and IT requirements. We also discuss process implementation and managing cultural change. We use the presentation and our model for work at home to spark an open dialogue that has been very valuable to those that have participated.
Please let us know if you find the below information interesting and would like to find out more about a best practices meeting. My contact info can be found on the contact page of this blog.
Cox has virtualized over 500 agents in Arizona and almost 3000 nationwide. We have been managing our work at home program since 2007. Since that the launch of the program we’ve realized signficant financial and human resource benefits for the business.
Cox currently has two data centers or delivery centers that mirror each other. One in Atlanta and one in Phoenix. Both centers deliver the virtual desktop, applications and provide virtual storage via our Citrix based solution.
The data centers delivers the applications, web apps and the virtual desktop to an end device in the home. Because we’re not storing anything on the device we’ve been able to lower our costs significantly by requiring the agents to supply their own laptop or PC. Currently we only supply the agent with a headset. We’ve also seen other contact centers who have chosen to provide a thin client or dumb device instead of a computer at 20% to 30% the cost.
We’ve learned over the last four years that network matters. The type of user you have utilizing your solution dictates how nailed up the network needs to be. In this example we’re examining two user types: a mobile user performing a sales function and a stationary user providing customer care services out of a contact center. The mobile user doesn’t put as much demand on a network as the contact center employee whose productivity is measured every minute of every hour.
We’ve found that for the contact center environment the best network alternative is to extend the LAN to the home rather than utilize an Internet-based solution. Extending the LAN via an Ethernet or Layer 2 solution provides many benefits. One of the most important benefits is that it allows the business to dictate what devices can be used on the network – completely separating the employees home life from their work life.
Cox has begun to transition to a virtual training model. Our experience with virtual training has shown that attendance improves, test sores increase, retention is better and training cycles speed up.
Leadership’s management style also has to change when leading work at home teams. We’ve found leaders get better results when they either lead a 100% work at home or 100% on site team.
Successful work at home agents will have a different set of characteristics than on-site agents. When evaluating an agents ability to work at home it’s important to look for these characteristics. We’ve also found that leadershp should also give the work at home agent a little more latitude to be creative.
Trust is the key to success.
These slides are just a part of the presentation we use to spark meaningful conversation. Our goal is to leave the participants with valuable information they can take back to their organizations to improve their own work at home programs.
As always I hope you find this article useful. I look forward to any comments or feedback you may have.