Let's start out with the types of contacts available. Agents can handle multiple forms of communication with customers. These include voice calls (phone and pc-to-pc), emails, faxes, text chats, web page sharing and even video. Each of these forms of communication have different bandwidth requirements. In order of increasing bandwidth you have:
-- Text Chat
-- Web Page Sharing
-- Voice Calls
The primary success factor in implementing remote agents is matching the forms of communication with the available bandwidth. The bandwidth requirement changes significantly for an agent handling emails versus an agent handling voice calls.
There are two types of remote agents. This first is an agent that works in a small office or branch office location. This type of agent is the easiest one to implement if you want the agent to handle voice because getting a high quality, high bandwidth connection is a cost effective option in this environment. You can put in Frame Relay or a T1 and share that dedicated bandwidth between several agents.
The agent working out of their home is more challenging. Especially if you want that agent to handle voice. Even though DSL and Cable Modems are becoming more widely available, these connections do not necessarily provide a guaranteed Quality of Service. So you might have enough bandwidth sometimes, but not all of the time. Obviously, this is not acceptable for voice calls.
On the other hand, these connections work well for email or text chat. They provide more than enough bandwidth and any slight delay would not be noticeable.
There are a number of companies that have successfully implemented remote and home based agents. The match between the agent contact types and the connection to the corporate voice and data networks is vital.
Hopefully this provides some insight into the technological side of remote agents.
For more information, check out searchCRM's Call Center/Customer Interaction Center Best Web Links.
This was first published in August 2001