Virtual Call Centers Want to Hire YOU
Source: Christine Durst & Mike Haaren
When you call Office Depot or Verizon for customer service, you may speak with a home-based agent. Agents often say they like their work, schedules are flexible, and pay ranges from $8 to $16 per hour. Would you like to be one, too?
Leading call center company Arise would be happy if you said yes (provided of course you have the qualifications), as it's actively seeking to hire from the military community. Better yet, in a recent e-mail interview, we were told they aim to double their current workforce to more than 14,000 in 2008.
As we mentioned briefly several months ago, Arise and other companies such as LiveOps, VIPdesk, West, and Alpine Access -- in a growing trend called homeshoring -- hire home-based agents to answer customer calls and perform similar services for Home Depot, Virgin America airlines, 1-800-FLOWERS, FedEx, and other large firms. (Our own ongoing research has found 74 legitimate companies that hire home-based agents. For the complete list, including pay rates, websites and other data, click here.)
A Chat with Arise VP Mary Bartlett
We asked Arise Vice President of Talent Discovery & Matching, Mary Bartlett, via e-mail what the profile of the "ideal agent" from the military community would be. This was her reply:
"Since the home-based concept works for so many different types of people, there is no typical agent, but an ideal Arise Certified Professional would be someone entrepreneurial and naturally motivated for success with a knack for customer service, sales, or technical support. The military community can benefit from the home-based concept because ACPs can take their work with them anywhere in the U.S. (except Hawaii) if they should need to relocate -- even on very short notice. In addition, the flexibility of being able to choose one's own hours in 30-minute increments is great for military spouses with children or a second job around which they need to schedule."
(Arise is also listed as a Military Spouse-Friendly Employer, here.)
Since so many disabled veterans also want or need to work from home, we asked Mary if Arise has any special programs or initiatives in place (or planned) to hire disabled veterans. She said:
"Arise was first established 10 years ago on the basis of providing work opportunities to those with disabilities, and it continues to enable disabled people with an option for home-based work. As technology advances, there continues to be more opportunities with certification programs completely done online, so ACPs today are completely ‘virtual' and can do any task from their homes. The flexible scheduling allows the ACPs to work a varied schedule around fatigue or pain management. There are also many agents who take advantage of special speech, hearing and vision applications that enable them to perform their job just as any other ACP would. We encourage any disabled veterans to apply if they might be interested in providing customer service, sales, or technical support from their homes."
Not for Everyone but Not Bad, Either
Of course, being a home-based agent isn't for everybody -- you need to proactively tend to your social needs. For example, have friends over or go out often to make sure you don't come down with the solitary blues. And you can't let the dog bark, parrot screech or kids squeal while you're on the phone. But for many, it beats alternatives, and can generate a decent income when commuting, wardrobe, and other office-related savings are factored into the mix.
For more on Arise (which differs from some call centers in requiring that its agents form their own corporation before signing on), see its website at http://www.arise.com, and its FAQ page there.
© 2007 Durst and Haaren. All rights reserved.