Love to Talk? Work From Home as a Customer Service Rep

If you’re looking for a legitimate work from home customer service job you are in the right place at the right time. As more and more companies save money by reducing office space and allowing their employees to telework, there’s an increased need for virtual customer assistance. Jet Blue Airways, 1-800-flowers, Eddie Bauer and Bluefly are just a few out of hundreds of major retailers already outsourcing consumer calls to work from home customer service reps spread out across the country. Reps can be full time employees, part time employees, or independent contractors, and can handle all sorts of support related and administrative tasks from home.

Enormous call centers with fluorescent lighting and rows and rows of cubicles are becoming a thing of the past as work from home customer service jobs increase in popularity. Everything from dealing with transactions to resolving complaints to tracking orders can be handled by home based reps located all over the country. Thanks to high speed Internet and other technologies it makes no difference where reps are located… As long as you can connect to the Internet, inbound customer service calls can be routed to your home computer using advanced call routing and VOIP technology.

Becoming a home based customer service rep can be an excellent career move if you enjoy talking to people and you’re looking for a straight forward, low stress gig that can be done from home. It’s the perfect entry level telecommuting job for students, stay at home parents, retirees looking to rejoin the workforce and anyone looking to earn a full or part time income from home. Many individuals are attracted to home based customer service jobs because of the scheduling perks – since customers live in so many different time zones there are shifts available at all times of the day and night. This helps workers accommodate family, school, other jobs, and hobbies. Shifts for work from home customer service jobs are generally shorter than traditional call center jobs as well – usually no more than 6 hours.

To get hired as a work  from home customer service rep you’ll need Internet access, a headset, and usually at least 6 months to 1 year prior customer service experience, although most companies also provide training. Typical home based customer service jobs pay anywhere from $8 to $15 per hour and if there is any selling or upgrading involved you’ll also earn bonuses and incentives. By working from home you’ll also save money on transportation costs to and from work and you’ll avoid spending money on expensive lunches everyday. If you would normally spend $8 a day on lunch and $7 a day getting to and from work that’s $75 a week , or $300 per month, or $3,600 per year you’ll be saving by telecommuting.

Join PajamaJobs for instant access to our jobs database including dozens of currently available customer service jobs. Every company and job listing we post has been verified as being 100% legitimate before being posted, so you can be sure there are no scams and no misleading ads. Some of the larger companies we connect you with have so many virtual employees taking inbound calls from home (thousands of home-based CS reps) they end up hiring 365 days a year just to maintain such a large workforce. Start browsing the customer service jobs category and before long you’ll be commuting from your kitchen to your home office, a cup of coffee in hand, slippers on your feet, and the sun shining through your windows.

Virtual Contact Centers and Home Based Customer Service Jobs on the Rise

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Recent trends in customer service delivery show that an increasing number of Americans are now working home based customer service jobs, a position that provides a consistent income, flexible schedules and allows full-time telecommuting. In fact more than 250,000 Americans work “virtually” from home offices throughout North America and an estimated 80,000 of these virtual jobs are home based customer service jobs. Even more surprising is that virtual call centers in the United States are growing faster than traditional call centers, both domestic AND offshore. The number of U.S. home-based contact agents will have grown at an annual clip of 20% between 2009 and 2012, from about 50,000 to more than 80,000, according to Datamonitor projections. That’s quite a bit faster than the growth rate for call centers in India (+4%) and the Philippines (+9%).

What factors are contributing to the new trend?

1. More and more U.S. home based contact centers are using high-speed broadband connectivity and new technology like video conferencing to improve the customer/client experience. For example, Eleution, a Wyoming-based company, employs several hundred online teachers who teach English to students in Asia via videoconferencing software. Companies like Myngle and EduFire are revolutionizing the educational process through U.S. based home contact centers that use teleconferencing.

2. Telecommuting improves employee productivity. Extensive research and case studies show that the majority of workers are substantially more productive when they’re working from home versus in a corporate setting/cubicle where they are likely to be surrounded by frequent interruptions/distractions such as background noise, office chit-chat, gossip, flirting, ringing cell phones, constant haggling from a boss, supervisor, etc.

3. It saves businesses tons of cash in a down economy when they need it most. A new report titled, ‘Workshifting Benefits: The Bottom Line’, states that businesses can save up to $10,000 per year per employee by utilizing virtual jobs, such as home based customer service jobs. These savings come from reduced rent and office space, reduced utilities, reduced absenteeism, reduced employee turnover, and increased productivity. And that statistic is for workers that only telecommute from home 50% of the time (the national average for employees who telecommute).

4. Employees save money. The average teleworker will save between $2,000 and $6,800 per year, mostly the result of reduced fuel spending and less money spent on meals away from home. At $4.00 per gallon driving 20 miles (the average national one-way commute) to work and back costs about $8 a day at 20 miles per gallon. That’s $1,920 spent in a year on gas if you work 5 days a week. If lunch and coffee costs you a combined $10 a day that’s another $2,400 per year. Add on some miscellaneous expenses for vehicle wear and tear, dry cleaning your work clothes, etc. and it all adds up.

5. The government loves businesses that employ virtual workers and therefore offers tax incentives for implementing telework programs. There are also numerous state and local governments running out of money to build and maintain expensive public transportation systems. For starving municipalities telework is the answer.

6. There are compelling environmental reasons. If everyone who could work from home did (40% of U.S. employees hold jobs that that could be done at home) we could reduce petroleum usage by 80%.

Home Based Employment On The Rise Despite Economic Recession

Amid the economy’s many ailments, some good news has remained mostly off the radar: The at-home work force is growing, and is encompassing new occupations ranging from radiology and nursing to auditing and teaching. For companies, home-based employees, independent contractors and freelancers are helping cut costs and improve customer service.

Full-time, home-based employees, freelancers and independent contractors in the U.S. are expected to increase by 200,000 workers to 11 million by the end of 2009, says Ray Boggs, a vice president of IDC, Framingham, Mass., a market-research firm; he sees another 200,000-worker increase in 2010.

While that is a mere blip on the radar in an economy that has been losing nearly that many jobs in a month, the trend means a lot to the individuals who are benefiting from it. They are avoiding dreaded commutes, doing volunteer work, pursuing college degrees or caring for family. And they are performing increasingly complex tasks from home, from reading MRIs to helping clients search for Bigfoot, the mythic wilderness monster.

“We are seeing a general broadening of the work-at-home landscape,” says Christine Durst, chief executive of a work-at-home Web site and co-author of a new guidebook on the topic.

Customer-service or sales work usually pays about $8 to $15 an hour, ranging as high as $25 or more with incentives or premiums. Some companies pay by the minute or hour spent on the phone, while others pay by the shift. The jobs vary by company from full-time employee positions with benefits to part-time independent contractor positions.

Intent on avoiding a long commute, Heather Hedden, a Raleigh, N.C., marketing specialist, spent a year looking for her current spot, as a home-based concierge for VIPdesk, located in Alexandria, Va. The position was worth the wait, she says. She enjoys using her research skills to help clients find theater or sports tickets, vintage wines or travel services. When a client asked for help looking for Bigfoot, she found an outfitter with a track record of taking like-minded customers on hikes through areas of reported sightings, she says.

After 19 years in private practice, radiologist Steven Brick, Potomac, Md., began working from home for Virtual Radiologic, Eden Prairie, Minn. The setup confers both the freedom to focus on his work, without distractions, and the flexibility to serve as a volunteer at the National Zoo answering visitors’ questions, he says. Virtual Radiologic’s radiologists, who work as independent contractors reading X-rays and other images for hospitals and other medical clients, have increased to 140 from 34 in 2004, a spokeswoman says.

Home-based work enables newlywed Stacey Anderson, 30, Ballston Spa, N.Y., to tackle numerous roles. Since landing a customer-service post last summer as a contractor for VIPdesk, Ms. Anderson has been able to bend her work hours around her husband’s rotating shifts on his job. In addition, she squeezes in a full-time course load as a college student.

Such intangible incentives are drawing skilled, experienced people. Mark Frei, a senior vice president of West, says 80% of West’s home agents have some college education, compared with 30% of those who work in office-based call centers.

Vanessa Torres, 35, San Antonio, Texas, had a bachelor’s degree in business and 16 years’ management experience before signing on last January as a home agent for West. She likes controlling her hours, and works only when her two young children are in school, she says.

Expansion of home-based work is likely to continue. Among the 12 companies I contacted, all were planning to recruit more home workers. Lionbridge Technologies, Waltham, Mass., a provider of multilingual services including translation and product testing, is taking on new freelancers to assess “search relevance”—that is, to ensure Internet searches yield items suitable to particular locales, a spokeswoman says.

Alpine Access, Denver, is recruiting 500 more home agents and expects to add 2,000 in 2010, says Chief Executive Christopher Carrington. LiveOps, with 20,000 home agents for retailing, insurance and other companies, added about 4,000 agents in the past two months. Arise Virtual Solutions, Miramar, Fla., with a home-agent pool of 9,800, is seeking 3,000 agents for the peak holiday and cruise seasons, a spokeswoman says. Michael DeSalles, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, a research and consulting firm, sees home agents growing by at least 30% a year.

Sites which link clients with skilled freelancers also are seeing a surge in demand for virtual workers with a widening range of professional and technical skills;‘s monthly postings, including graphic design, software, administrative and other projects, rose to 28,000 in the past 30 days, three times year-earlier levels. Monthly hiring on is up more than 40% from a year ago.

As more companies allow people to work from anywhere via the Internet, says a spokeswoman for Lionbridge, “we are convinced that this is the new model of work.”

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Home Is Where The Rep Is

You’ve heard time and again how consumers have more choices now than ever and have access to more information than ever. Technologies such as the Internet have empowered customers, giving them instant access to alternative sales channels and competitors. And as consumers gain more control, they’re leveraging it to customize and dictate terms. They now have higher service expectations and demand interaction with experts who can quickly resolve issues in their favor.

This evolution poses unique challenges to contact centers. Like other operational units, contact centers are being stretched to do more with less. Centers are expected to contain costs while maximizing revenue. They must maintain efficiency and flexibility despite receiving fewer resources. And within these constraints, management must recruit, train, motivate, and retain a higher-caliber agent.

Keeping skilled contact center agents happy means that they can help keep your customers happy.

To attract and retain these agents in order to heighten customer experience and accommodate savvy consumers, many companies are turning to home-based agents.

This home-agent model, which businesses such as American Airlines, Dell, JetBlue, and Sears have already implemented, employs work-from-home staffers to assist customers. These agents can serve as stand-alone units or supplement existing teams. They require just a phone and an Internet connection and can easily be integrated into an existing infrastructure.

A home-agent setup appeals to job candidates seeking a better work-life balance. Agents can determine their own hours, which frees them to meet family and community obligations. They face fewer distractions at home and avoid long and costly commutes.

The benefits to the potential employee are obvious. But the home-agent model also provides to your business in a number of areas:

* hiring
Being able to offer job candidates the ability to work from home is of course a powerful recruiting and retention tool. But using home agents also allows you to recruit nationwide, resulting in fewer labor and skill shortages. You can tap into a deep reservoir of talent, including seasoned professionals who have given up careers to return home. This labor surplus affords you the luxury of hiring only the best candidates.

* skill sets
Because home agents often possess above-average skills as well as specialized industry experience and credentials to handle complicated transactions, you can invest less time training them and reap greater productivity.

* scaling
The model makes it easier to grow your team without incurring additional costs such as office space or equipment. Moreover, home agents enable you to quickly staff for seasonal surges or promotional spikes.

* turnover
On average, home agent turnover is less than 10%. And long-term agents help you retain that undocumented know-how that is critical to holding an operation together.

* disaster recovery
A home-based model is not geographically concentrated. If a natural disaster or mass outage strikes, calls can simply be rerouted to agents in unaffected areas to prevent downtime and lost revenue.

* results
Higher skill sets, broader industry experience, and satisfied employees equate to better performance. With home agents, you can expect higher conversion rates, larger order sizes, more first-call resolutions, and improved customer satisfaction.

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Have an Eye for Detail? Work From Home as a Medical Coder

Medical coding job opportunities are not limited to traditional settings such as hospitals and clinics. The United States Department of Labor states that medical coding is one of the fastest-growing professions today, and ranks in the top 5 positions for work at home careers. Government regulations have increased the amount of paperwork involved with insurance claims, and as a result, more and more companies are looking for home based specialists to translate information into numerical codes.

Medical coders use numeric codes to identify specific outpatient and inpatient medical services so that private and public insurance companies can be billed.

Here are examples of common medical codes:

90805 = outpatient psychotherapy
38221 = bone marrow biopsy, or needle
38211 = tumor cell depletion
99261 – 99263 = follow-up inpatient consultation
99054 = services requested on holidays or Sundays

The job entails reading medical documentation, such as patient charts, then, using coding knowledge, as well as by checking classification manuals, the medical coder assigns the proper code and enters the data into a computer system. In addition to identifying the procedure or service performed, the assigned codes help determine how much the healthcare provider will be reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and private and public insurance companies. It’s critical that the proper codes are entered, as mistakes can delay payment. Furthermore, the codes must adhere to insurance requirements and federal regulations. You’ll be great at this job if you have a sharp eye for detail and take pride in staying organized.

To become a medical coder you’ll need to know general medical terminology, as well as the general coding practices, all of which you can learn via online classes, or at any community college. With a little studying you can be on your way to a secure at-home career. One that pays well too… Entry level medical coders earn $39,000 to $46,000 annually. And if you have a Masters degree you’ll earn $58,000 or more as a medical coder.

In our members area you’ll find current medical coder job listings, resources and everything you’ll need to start working as a home based medical coder. For more info visit

Fast Typer? Become a Home Based Transcriber

Anyone with solid typing experience – legal secretaries, executive assistants, or simply those with quick fingers – can work from home as a transcriber. There are literally thousands of companies needing information (recordings) transferred from cassettes, CDs, DVDs, etc. into text.

Transcribers are fast typists who listen to recorded information and then data enter it into an online computer system. Some companies offer very specific work (such as transcribing legal documents only), while others pair you with more general assignments, or assignments that match your expertise and job background.

Salary: Payment is by page, or an hourly rate; approximately $10 per hour.

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