I recently spoke with Rick Bloom, CEO, Support.com about the latest technology for the work-from-home workforce and what businesses should consider making the transition. Part 1
Maureen Jenson: Tell our readers about the history of Support.com
Rick Bloom: For more than 20 years, Support.com has been delivering virtual call center services with a work-from-home workforce based in the United States. We provide outsourced customer and tech support to large enterprises, and tech support services direct to consumers and small businesses. Our proprietary systems and software allow Support.com to quickly enable call center teams with secure and efficient virtual call center capabilities. As demonstrated by our low agent attrition and industry-leading Net Promoter Scores (NPS), we understand the management and technology best practices necessary for virtual teams to work-from-home successfully even for the most complicated products, services or processes. Based in the U.S. and traded on NASDAQ, our unique technology stack and proprietary, intelligent support tools enable us to provide full-service, custom support programs in as little as a few weeks. We offer white-labeled support solutions, including those for some of the biggest companies in the world, and also provide exceptional, unbiased tech support direct to consumers and small businesses.
Taking advantage of the increasing proliferation of connected devices and Support.com’s connected-device expertise, in 2019, we launched an enhanced direct-to-consumer offering called TechSolutions to enable people to get the most out of their technology. More recently, Support.com also launched TechSolutions Small Business to help small businesses keep their businesses running smoothly with a trusted, effective, and affordable tech support option.
We recently announced two initiatives in light of COVID-19. Since mid-March, we have been providing TechSolutions service for free for one month to help keep communities connected, including parents and students engaged in distance learning, small businesses, WFH employees and others. We also announced that Support.com is hiring for a currently uncapped amount of remote tech support roles, after a surge in demand from businesses of all sizes looking for professional, experienced remote customer and tech support representatives that can be on-boarded quickly.
MJ: How can our readers transition their support workforce to remote work? And what businesses should?
RB: The pandemic has led companies of all sizes and in all industries to quickly transition many, if not all, of their employees to working-from-home (WFH). Some employees will transition easily, and many will work efficiently and want to remain as work-from-home. For others, managing the ability to work without disruption from home, navigating the technology, and their desire to physically be with their co-workers will drive them back to the office as soon as policies permit.
However, given the density of employees, for companies in the traditional call center business, it will be some time, if ever, before they are permitted to return to their normal method of operations. Those companies with bricks and mortar call centers, which include many retailers, financial institutions, insurance companies, healthcare companies, and cable and internet service providers, among others, have been forced to change capacity and scheduling to ensure adequate social distancing.
Merely sending customer support agents home with a computer does not make a company a successful virtual call center. Although virtual call centers are more flexible, scalable and efficient, it takes time to build in the tools, systems, processes, culture, procedures and management techniques to manage a remote workforce safely, securely and efficiently.
Many companies challenged to adequately support WFH employees have engaged with providers of remote help desk support, like Support.com, to augment their internal IT teams, ensuring employees remain productive and secure while working remotely. Others managing the shift to a virtual call center model are quickly adapting the tools and platforms necessary to effect the change. For example, at Support.com, we have the ability to quickly scale a virtual call center for any customer as well as “re-badge” another company’s employees to bring them on to our systems and tools quickly.
Even as the pandemic subsides, it is likely that more and more companies will continue to embrace the WFH model in some form. Not only does remote work provide some protection around future unforeseen crises, but it also affords a number of tangible benefits, as employees who WFH report greater work-life balance, lower costs from avoiding the commute, and greater job satisfaction.
Those companies who embrace remote work can begin to source employees without geographic constraints – finding the best employees for any position no matter where they are located and reaping the rewards that result such as greater productivity and lower employee turnover.
However, companies adopting a WFH model on their own should be careful to evaluate the complexities of local labor laws, minimum wage and other localized labor practices, business license and payroll tax compliance requirements, and income tax nexus issues, to name just a few.
Stay tuned next week when Rick discusses what it takes to run a virtual call center and the further impact of Coronavirus on work from home.