Virtual call centers are work-at-home jobs in which individuals are hired as an employee or work as an independent contractor to provide telephone, chat, customer service, or tech support services from their own home office.
Like agents in a traditional call center, home-based call center agents handle in-bound and/or out-bound telephone calls and often chat and email as well. Companies either utilize virtual call center agents to provide customer support for their own organization (e.g. Hilton Hotels) or contract to provide virtual call center telephone support for others.
This is known as business process outsourcing or BPO.
Virtual call center agents may do telemarketing or sales, customer service, third-party verification or technical support for inbound or outbound calls. Depending on employers, agents may provide only one service or their workload may vary.
Typically the virtual call center agent provides and maintains all home office equipment and services required to do the job.
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Previous experience in telephone customer service is highly desirable. Some companies will accept customer service experience in retail or other non-phone positions. Companies look for applicants who are self-motivated with good grammar and a professional phone presence.
Typically, basic math and writing skills as well as knowledge of word processing systems are expected. A high school diploma or GED is usually required. Many require proof of eligibility to work in the U.S. For more information see this Virtual Call Center FAQ
Type/Length of Employment:
Companies hire virtual call center agents as both telecommuting employees and independent contractors.
Part-time and temporary arrangements are common; however full-time work is often available as well.
Pay ranges from minimum wage up to $30 for specialized positions. Typically most jobs pay closer to minimum wage. Those hired as independent contractors typically incur more costs than those hired as employees.
Payment Type and Frequency:
Virtual call center agents are paid on a per-hour, per-minute or per-call basis. For more details, see this article Call Center Pay Structures. Most are paid at bi-weekly or monthly intervals.
Most companies hire work-at-home phone agents without a face-to-face interview. Typically online skill assessment tests and phone interviews are used. Background and credit checks are common. Some companies make applicants pay for these.
Geographical Requirements/Time Away From Home Office:
Virtual call center agents rarely need to work away from their home office. Even training is usually done from home. However, many companies have geographic requirements and only hire from certain U.S. states.
Among the many companies hiring virtual call centers, there is an array of schedules available. Some require agents work some weekend or evening hours, while others don't offer weekend and evening hours.
Likewise, some require a minimum commitment of hours, while others make no guarantees about hours available. Most, particularly those that hire independent contractors, have no restrictions against agents working at a different company as well.
Child Care Arrangement:
Those with young children will need to make child care arrangements. Only children who are self-sufficient, except in an emergency, can be in the home without another adult supervising them. Since cordless phones are not allowed, an agent cannot move from her station to take care of a child.