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Q&A: AmFam on Home Agents

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Shawn Siegel

At the Virtual Call Center Summit, Ryan Cline, the Commercial Business Technology Manager for American Family Insurance, will discuss some of the technologies that are critical to work-at-home strategies. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on backup up plans, work-at-home training and emerging technologies. He will expand on these topics as well as discuss ways to use the opportunity to work from home as incentive for experienced agents.


What is the biggest technical challenge with remote agents that might be a surprise to those who only work with in-office agents?
Ensuring that agents have the proper tools and set up in their home to enable a seamless transition. You want to ensure that for the end user or customer that they can’t tell if they get someone in an office or home. That means that networks, equipment and environment all have to be conducive of the task.

What type of backup plans need to be in place in case of technical failures?
For my group I have folks in multiple offices and they all back each other up. If an office or individual is out of commission unexpectedly for whatever reason, we have a process in place redirect and calls or work to others.

Do the home agents themselves need any extra technical training or expertise to ensure that everything runs seamlessly?
We only allow the experienced folks the opportunity. We also do several test runs and calls from their home before putting anyone on the live lines.

What tips do you have for working with technology vendors?
My number one tip is know up front what you want. Nothing can delay a project or negotiations more than trying to decide what route you want to go while working with a vendor. Know what your end goal is, and then determine what vendor will get you there.

Are there any new or emerging technologies that you think will have strong application for working with home agents?
I am very excited to see how video messaging can be incorporated into call center technology, but unsure how that would impact individuals at home versus an office.