The Distributed Call Center

By Wayne Scaggs, Alston Tascom

What is a Distributed Call Center and will my business benefit with a distributed call center model?
As with most business questions, the answer is: it depends.

First let’s define “distributed call center.”  The easiest definition is a call center with multiple offices.  Or should the definition be a call center with multiple systems?  A newer definition may be a call center with distributed agents, who are located all around the city or country.

Do all your calls feed into one location or do your multiple locations look and act like one center?  The term “distributed call center” is beginning to have similar difficulties with definition that answering service, call center, and contact center have had.  Which are you?  Again, it depends mainly on what works for you.  There are many very successful businesses that define themselves with one or even a combination of titles.  You are what you think you are.  Whatever your definition is, the objective is to bring all available resources together for a common goal.

Other considerations that make a distributed call center attractive may be focused on the customer base.  Are their calls distributed elsewhere but they require a local presence?  Is the qualified staff you trained no longer local?  Or is there qualified staff in a distant location who were trained by someone else?  Will outsourcing qualify, even though they are only servicing your local customer base?  When you share a large account with others, it sounds like another definition of a distributed environment.

Another critical consideration is good management.  Once you have decided to go distributed, you and your manager will not be able to personally observe the agent, so you must have excellent reporting and monitoring tools.  The distribution of your call center must be transparent for management and customer satisfaction.

Your decision to go distributed may resolve a number of current issues, boost your revenues, or maintain invaluable staff to enhance your business.  All good solutions that resolve existing issues invariably create new growth opportunities that you may have never considered.

Remember the old adage, “The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence?”  Well, it may just be because they took better care of the lawn.  The distributed call center model will require more effort to implement and maintain.  Do you see the opportunities?

[Look for more coverage on remote agents and distributed call centers in the October issue of Connections Magazine.]