Home-based customer service has been around for years. But, for the majority of this time, it hasn’t truly been embraced and adopted as mainstream. Though seen as an option, adoption wasn’t essential for most businesses.

But 2020 changed all that, and the work-at-home (WAH) model really came into its own. It became the answer that nobody really planned for, but everyone had to accept. There was no alternative, organisations had to adopt it.

As a result, WAH became the hot topic of conversation – with many praising success, where it happened, and questioning why this had not already been widely adopted, and whether businesses would continue to use it moving forward. “Will we ever return to the office?” was the question on people’s lips and the subject of countless articles and news stories.

But, over recent months, it seems that WAH has dropped out of conversations. Have people become bored of it? Perhaps it’s no longer perceived to be a viable, long term customer service option? Or have we just accepted that it works and we no longer need to speak about it as a different, unique model?

Does it matter where a customer service (CS) colleague sits?

Increasingly, companies won’t care much about where their CS colleague sits except for cases where there is a specific compliance or training need, of course.

And there are various models of home-based support, each allowing companies to select the approach that works best for them. At one end of the spectrum sits total virtual, where the CS colleague can be based anywhere because they are recruited, trained and managed without meeting in-person. And at the other end, the hybrid model where everyone works within a commutable distance of a business location, with CS colleagues rotating between at-home and in the office. Both allow for business continuity should restrictions be imposed.

Work-at-home completely opens up options, enabling companies to create models that truly work for their customers, while optimising cost, quality, and speed of delivery. Customer Experience Management (CXM) partners must take account of what each client needs to be able to offer a solution that best fits.

An industry perspective

For the CXM industry, work-at-home has arrived. Many contact centre awards in 2020 included a dedicated WAH category, recognising its new standing in the support sector.

However, WAH has been left out this year – not mentioned as a separate, standalone model. Does this mean it is now accepted, so a category is not necessary?

If yes, and WAH is now seen as a normal, mainstream, and accepted option, it does not need to be isolated from other customer service models. The industry perception of home-based support has changed – for the better!

So, do we need to continue to talk about WAH as a separate component to the customer service solution?

Yes, because it is different, with its own intricacies, benefits, and features.

From an outsourced perspective, buyers use differences when making an assessment of solutions to suit their need, so we talk about it this way. But their ready acceptance of home-based support teams now means they have moved on. WAH is accepted and embraced.

SYKESHome has operated for over 5 years in Europe, and for much longer in North America. If your home-based customer service strategy needs experience and resources for success, please get in touch!

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