Working From Home - Customer Service/Sales Representatives
Writing is not the only working from home gig you can score. If you are not interested in freelance writing, then perhaps customer service or sales is something you'd like to check out.
Many corporations moved from brick and mortar call centers to telecommuting across the world. It's simultaneously beneficial for parents and companies. It cuts down on overhead expenses, plus allows agents more flexibility because many of them give you the opportunity to choose a schedule that fits your needs.
Before you dive in, carefully research the company and position. Read through the pros and cons to help you decide whether this is a position you wish to pursue. When in doubt, ask around. Join a few of the community boards. The boards are there for people just like YOU, so utilize them!
Many work-at-home customer service/sales positions require the same technical equipment and work environment:
- Most positions require a landline telephone. Never use a wireless phone. I have used a wireless phone in the past. The battery runs out faster than you would imagine! I can't even begin to count the number of times my phone died in the middle of a transaction with a customer.
- Some allow VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) I have used VOIP with At&t Uverse in the past. I prefer a land line as opposed to this option because when the internet/power goes out, you lose your phone services as well. Cell phones could work if you're located in an excellent service area but not entirely reliable. You really shouldn't use your cell phone for this type of work.
- It's standard for a headset to be required by every company. Some companies even provide headsets for their agents but don't expect them to purchase one for you. These are helpful because then you have full use of your hands for typing while engaging with the customer.
- Basic computer skills are necessary. You need to be able to navigate the internet, fill out basic online forms, send/receive emails, and upload/download attachments. You will need computer skills in order to be successful. Go beyond the basics to learn more. Never stop educating yourself. Make acquiring knowledge (and the application of that knowledge) your best friend.
- Every company has varying technical requirements regarding your internet speed, processor, RAM, screen size, operating system, etc. Some even require a webcam. Yep, that would mean you have to actually get dressed for work if you have to "attend" a webcam chat with your employer.
- There has to be very little background noise while you're speaking with customers. This means no children running around or dogs barking in the background. You cannot have the television or music on either. It might be unsettling to the customer to find out you are working from home because you have access to their personal information. Knowledge of work-at-home representatives is growing but it probably won't cross their minds. Besides, it's unprofessional to have constant interruptions when you should be focused on the customer. Play on your own time, not the company's time.
- Lastly, it's recommended that you have a dedicated office space, but nobody's going to know if you are working from your bedroom/kitchen/living room. As long as it is quiet, they aren't going to care. You do what you have to in order to get the job done.
Now, about these types of jobs:
This is a good stepping stone if you are just starting in the virtual world. You will receive training on how to handle the customers who call in. Pay attention to your training and keep the materials handy, so if you have any questions, it is right there as a reference.
You must be patient and able to empathize with the customer (even when you don't agree or become frustrated). Also, you need to be capable of taking what is thrown at you and get the job done. This line of work requires you to be fluid and ready to accept changes at any given time. If you are not willing to go with the flow, then this is probably not for you. Good luck!
Any questions or comments, feel free to let me know.