Training and Managing Remote Agents

By Doris Primicerio

Like in-house agent training, remote agent training is done much the same way. The applicant fills out an application and takes our typing, spelling, comprehension, and grammar tests; lastly they will have a telephone interview. Once they are hired, they will shadow one of our trained agents. The on-site trainer will give them a complete overview of our equipment and keyboard functions. We will then run test calls and get the new agent familiar with taking the calls and working with the keyboard.

We begin our agents with simple calls, service and will checks, then move them up to medical and more specialized accounts. One of the most important parts of training and maintaining remote agents is continued monitoring. Not only is it important to monitor them at each level while they are being trained, but to continue monitoring them when they are fully trained agents. It is also important to make sure your remote agent’s stats are equal to the in-house agents with the same level of training.

Recently we purchased a call center in California. Our local manager was sent to the new location to set the system up to be able to work via our local switch in Orlando, Florida, and to provide the necessary training for the newly acquired agents. When our manager returned to the home office we noticed a variety of issues. Not only were the unsupervised agents not working to the best of their abilities, worst of all they were not increasing their knowledge and progressing to the next level. In short, the agents working in an unsupervised environment were not performing as well as our agents with direct supervision. We knew a better process had to be implemented; we now know that on-site supervision at our remote locations is a requirement.

Since the opening of our location in the Philippines, we have been able to bring our remote agents under direct supervision and have exponentially increased our training programs. Many changes have made our remote operations a success.  With the help of Wayne Scaggs and Alston Tascom, we have installed several different monitoring devices. Our new equipment provides us with the ability to listen to remote agents and monitor their computers in real time, as well as gives us a direct link with the ability to have immediate one-on-one communication with the agents during live calls.

Another interesting observation was that the remote agents were not reporting to their scheduled shifts for many of the same reasons of in-house agents. This brings us back to the very reason most call centers go to remote agents: the idea that it would be more convenient for the employees and cut down on the agents’ problems. In our remote managed locations, we find the training of the agents much easier because they have someone right there to help them. We do over 50 percent of our business in three different remote managed locations. It is working quite well for us and we are always striving to make it easier and more efficient.

Doris Primicerio is president of WW-Outsourcing International Services in Orlando, Florida (licensed to do business in the Philippines). She has thirty-four years of experience in the telemessaging industry and is president of A Courteous Communications. For more about agent outsourcing, contact or call 800-785-4766.

[From Connection Magazine April 2008]