The call center business is not going entirely to Asian countries such as India and the Philippines. Even in the United States, the call center business is growing. The best part of it all though is that these companies are turning to home-based people like you as their call center agents! If you are a stay at home parent, physically disabled, or even in-between jobs, you can be a customer service representative and work from the comfort of your home.
Many call center companies are now using home-based agents. As a virtual call center agent, your job is to take incoming calls that will be directed to you and handle requests or close sales. Projects that will be sent your way will often be different — some clients will be financial institutions while others are retailers (and pay will be dependent on the type of call and industry you will be serving).
To work as a home-based agent, you will need to have the required tools of the trade. While the requirements may vary among various companies, the most common requirements include a computer, high-speed Internet access, a land-line telephone to handle incoming calls, and a quiet workspace (no crying babies, please!). Some require backup ISPs (in case your main ISP falters), installed software such as anti-virus and firewall; headsets, among others. Carefully review the home office requirements of the company to see if you already have their requirements, or need to spend more to meet their requirements (and they will not reimburse you!)
You will be required to put in a minimum number of hours per week, which can be as low as 15 to 20 hours; though you can opt to work as much as 60 hours a week. Companies differ in how they pay — some pay based on the number of calls you take while others pay by the hour. The pay range is around $7 to $30 per hour depending on the project, though that can increase if the company offers commissions for sales you have closed. So if you work 20 hours a week at $10/hour, then you can take home $200 per week. Not bad for staying at home.
As always, when choosing which company to join, avoid those that will ask you to pay upfront. However, note that some companies consider their home-based agents as independent businesses (not as an employee), and as such require their agents to set themselves up as a business (whether a sole proprietor, LLC or incorporation). If you choose to work with these companies, understand that they will not reimburse you for the incorporation fees that you will incur. And you will be responsible for paying your taxes.
Here are some companies that work with home-based agents:
- Nexa = offers virtual receptionist services, appointment scheduling and others
- VIPDesk.com http://www.vipdesk.com = will ask you to shoulder the required credit and background checking fees.
- Working Solutions http://www.workingsol.com/ = no fees required but considers their agents as independent contractors, thus requiring applicants to be self employed
- Alpine Access http://www.alpineaccess.com = no fees and you will be considered as an employee, not as an independent contractor
- LiveOps http://www.liveops.com/ = considers agents as independent contractors; no upfront fee but requires applicants to pay for the background check
- WillowCSN http://www.willowcsn.com/ = requires their agents to work as independent contractors and incorporate
If this is something that interests you, I suggest you study the offerings of the above companies (and several more in this business) and compare to see which one will give you the best deal for your work.