How To Work from Home as a Virtual Agent
By Maynard Webb
When I was at eBay, we created a virtual community, an army of entrepreneurs chasing their passions. We enabled people to buy and sell – something they had always done, but on a more efficient, global scale. Now at LiveOps, we’re also creating a virtual community enabling people to do something else they have always done – work, but through LiveOps people can do it on their own terms.
What’s happening is a mini-revolution in the way people work. Rather than working nine to five for a corporation, more than 100,000 people have opted to work from home as home agents providing professional telephone customer care. This number is expected to grow to more than 300,000 by 2010.
Flexibility is a key reason for this growth. With the LiveOps model, agents contract with us and can choose to work for as little as one half-hour or as many hours as they would like, and they choose when they want to work, anytime day or night. Over half of our independent contractor agents are mothers with young children. Others are disabled or care for family members needing special care.
Applying for certification as a LiveOps home agent is simple. The process includes reading comprehension and voice tests, as well as a basic credit and background check. It is a great opportunity, but isn’t for everyone. Successful agents manage their own independent businesses, diligently stick to their self-created schedule, enjoy talking to new people, and can handle the occasional difficult caller.
For LiveOps agents, it’s not about how much your boss likes you, how political you are, or who you know. Agents are rated on keeping commitments to self-scheduled work times and on objective performance measures such as length of time on the phone and order conversion rates.
The best performing agents get to select their schedules first and have access to more calls and therefore, their businesses can make the most money. At LiveOps, calls are always routed to the best performing agent, not the next available agent. We call this the “survival of the finest.” LiveOps agents always know exactly what is expected and how well they rank among their peers. It’s a completely open and transparent system that allows them to course correct when necessary.
Survival and contracting doesn’t mean LiveOps home agents are on their own. Our community of independent contractors has access to facilitators and chat rooms for quick answers to questions or easy tips on how to improve the performance of their business. Succeeding as a home agent and achieving work/life balance is rewarding. Few jobs can match the flexibility, independence and financial freedom that come with it.
Webb is CEO at LiveOps. He was COO at eBay until last year. Apply at liveops.com .
By Angie Selden
Home-based business opportunities seem to be a dime a dozen these days, yet there are a select few arrangements that offer compelling advantages to those with a special kind of entrepreneurship and thirst for premium compensation.
Over the past few years, many global companies have growing concerns about their customers’ disappointing experiences with service agents overseas. With readily available broadband technology, a thriving industry has developed with thousands of U.S.-based agents working from their homes. There are options – home agents can work as little as a few hours, or more than 60 hours per week, and as either a part-time employee, independent contractor, or incorporated business owner.
With so many choices, it’s important to understand the advantages of each. Arise Virtual Solutions has provided opportunities for near-full time home agents to work as incorporated business owners owning their customer service businesses since it was founded in 1997. Arise Certified Professionals (ACPs) dictate when, how often, and for whom they work including over 40 Arise clients like Walgreen’s, Home Depot, and Verizon. As business owners, ACPs invest in their own certification and equipment, demonstrating to clients that they are invested in and motivated to operate a successful customer service operation.
So what are the secrets of successfully becoming an Arise Certified Professional?
- Find 25 hours a week to work when you choose
- Hone your selling and persuasion skills
- Thrive in a competitive results, based environment
- Be comfortable using technology for work
- Enjoy meeting professionals like you in a virtual community
- Commit to a schedule each week and work it
- Be confident about getting paid for your performance
- Love the premium brands in the Arise portfolio of companies you can service!
In short – invested agents provide better service when their own success – and compensation — is tied directly to the success of their clients. This has been proven by the high-caliber brands that Arise consistently attracts – which means more opportunity for you in the long run. Add to that the sense of accomplishment found in managing your own business, and the result is thousands of agents across the U.S. proud to call themselves Arise Certified Professionals.
Selden is the CEO, Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. Apply at Arise.com.
Is a home-based position the perfect fit for you? Do you have what it takes to be successful? Working from home and effectively balancing all the demands on your time is hard. It’s not for everyone, but the rewards are tremendous for those with the right approach.
Let’s be honest. The process of becoming an Alpine Access agent is likely more rigorous and challenging than other positions you may have applied for previously. We invest in our agents and hire them as employees of the company, hoping they’ll be around for the long-haul. We provide paid training, cover hiring costs, promote from within and create a supportive community. As a result, we choose our agents carefully and only hire the most passionate and enthusiastic individuals.
Alpine Access uses a two part hiring process. First, we look for excellent customer service skills such as phone etiquette, ability to follow instructions, basic technology knowledge, and ideally, previous experience in a customer service role. Then we look for a “client match.” Matching agents with clients is a key reason Alpine Access is the outsourced provider of choice for both agents and customers. Because our agents are hired as employees rather than contractors, we can assign them to specific accounts according to their interests, skills and prior industry experience. Our agents enjoy dedicating themselves to one account and clients get experienced agents who secure higher average sales orders and increase customer satisfaction rates. To improve your chances of matching to a client, be sure to highlight your hobbies and interest as well as job experience on your application.
Building a career around your life, rather than your life around your career is not an unrealistic dream, but it takes effort. Be choosy. In the same way we don’t take just any candidate, neither should you take just any job. When asked why you want an at-home position, describe your motivation in terms of more than just wanting to work from home. With these tips, regardless of age, circumstance or location, if you are self-motivated and willing to work hard, you can have a successful, rewarding career that provides personal life balance.
Carrington is CEO of Alpine Access. Apply at alpineaccess.com