When I was asked to write a blog about my experience with The Chat Shop, the first thing that popped into my head was, I work from home! What more can you ask for than that?
When walking home from shopping and getting soaked in the process, just before work, the advantages of working from home are what crossed my mind. Not just the advantages to me and my motivation, but also the advantages to our clients.
When I worked in a 'normal' office, living in the UK came to be a waking nightmare in the winter. When trudging to work in the snow or rain, arriving bedraggled and damp, the thought of 8 hours sitting in the same clothes and steaming like a pudding is not very appealing.
In a previous job I've limped into the office after slipping on an ice patch, nearly tumbling down a flight of stairs leading to a canal and twisting my ankle whilst trying to rescue myself. Really not a good start to a day!
The Second Wardrobe
The other option to arriving dripping wet is to take a full spare outfit to work with you.
I used to have spare shoes, trousers, tops, hair brushes, makeup and pretty much anything else you could think of. Anything to make me feel a little more human for the day ahead.
Of course, this in itself brings it's own trials. To put any of this preparation to good use you have to get to work at least 30 minutes earlier than usual.
Memories are now flitting across my mind's eye of standing locked in a toilet cubicle, trying to dry off before putting on fresh clothes, replacing those that I had only put on 2 hours previously.
So now it is a pleasure everyday to be able to know that my wardrobe is just upstairs, no packing required. On cold winter evenings I can just wrap up in my comfy clothes with none of these trivial worries that, although small in the big picture, can really put a dampener (excuse the pun) on your day.
So having the ability to remotely work as a Live Chat Agent really does motivate me every working day.
"That's not work"
Everyone that I know seems to have a comment about working from home. The comments range from “That's not work” to “I'd never get anything done”. Neither are true, and this can be very hard to explain to some people!
It is still like working in an office. We have rules and guidelines that must be followed to ensure a high quality service. We still have a shift rota. And we still need to arrive to work on time i.e. we need to be logged in on time and have all of our software ready, as much to allow others to finish their shift as being available for customers and clients.
All Live Chat Agents that work remotely have a dedicated work space with our computers, notes, diaries and the like.
We have team meetings, reviews and complete Quality Assurance Processes every week without fail. We have KPIs to track our performance for each and every client. KPIs that make sure we are making every customer happy whilst achieving the client's goals.
Our Team Leader's are constantly on call for anything we could ever need, and there's always our other colleagues, in case they can’t be reached for some reason.
It’s these guidelines, our thorough training, a detailed knowledge base and continuous personal development that ensures we provide clients and their customers with an outstanding service. All of these inputs allow me to deliver quick and accurate responses (my average response time was 29 seconds last month). These personal responses delivered as a customer browses a website creates outstanding satisfaction. Take November for example, I had 1,810 chats and delivered a satisfaction rating of 99%.
Sauntering into the ‘office’ late, working in a distracting environment or being unmotivated wouldn’t allow me to deliver this level of satisfaction.
Someone to provide a helping hand
I’ve worked in call centres before and wasted a considerable amount of time wandering around looking for someone to help me. That’s not the case here, where there is always someone on hand to assist me in providing an outstanding experience.
Working from home is not about choosing your own timescale, sleeping in late and forgetting to do things. That would have the same negative consequences as if I worked in our head office.
It is about having a little extra freedom that you just don't get in an office environment. Freedom that helps you to greet customers with a bright personality and a great experience.
I don’t have to take extra sets of clothes and apply make-up once I’ve finally arrived at work. I don’t have to force my way through the harsh British wind and rain, to and from work.
I don’t even have to suffer through limp excuses for dinner, like a microwave curry or Boots meal deal. Once I’ve finished my shift, my commute from office environment to my home takes all of about 10 seconds. I can, and have, cooked a roast for my family’s dinner.
It’s the little things like this that make me a happier employee. When I’m chatting away to a customer and portraying my personality through my keyboard, customers can no doubt sense that I’m smiling. This delivers them a better experience too.
Don't you drive yourself crazy?
The other thing that I get asked about a lot is loneliness. Don't you drive yourself crazy? Well, no, I probably do drive my work mates mad though! It’s so easy for us to communicate with each other that we are always chatting.
We use Slack to update each other on client developments and find out about each other’s weekends. There’s always someone there to help provide an outstanding experience, should I need it.
Just a few more benefits
No commute. Whether you take the bus, train, car, bike or walk you probably have to physically commute to work. I don’t! I don’t mean to rub it in, but on top of not having those Monday morning rush hour blues, I’m also certain to be online and ready to chat on time everyday.
Getting down to the biggest reason I personally work from home, my dogs! They are big, loud and boisterous (even more so when I'm not at home). I used to get home from work to absolute carnage. I’ve had furniture ruined and even one of them sticking their head through my kitchen door! Now they don't have to be home alone.
There are many reasons that people make the decision to work from home. It can have many benefits for both home and work life.
Working from home doesn’t make the live chat job any easier (particularly at The Chat Shop). The job still has strict quality guidelines and Quality Assurance Processes. It involves good memory, fast typing, multi-tasking and the ability to use your personality through text based communication.
Above all you have to keep a passion for providing an outstanding experience for client and customer. Sure, we want to make every customer happy, but we also want to achieve the goals that we set with our clients.
We don’t just use chat for customer service enquiries, we also use live chat to increase conversions and lead generation. It takes a lot of skill and determination to deliver all that we do with live chat. Working from home, rather than an office, provides a little extra flexibility and benefit that helps us to deliver what we do.
I love it, and I think it is the way forward for many companies; it will one day become the norm rather than the unusual!
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