With the holiday season fast approaching, Amazon is bracing for the storm by hiring seasonal workers. However, these new Amazon employees won’t be packaging items for delivery in its warehouses — instead, they’ll be fielding customer calls from home. The move has led many in the customer service industry to ask “do work from home call centers actually work?”
Amazon’s hiring splurge is a nation-wide affair, with calls for help going up in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia.
It’s not a particularly high-paying job, workers will be offered just $10 an hour, but the convenience of working from home is undeniable. The new Amazon employees won’t have to battle traffic in a commute and they can take care of important home duties, such as watching the kids, while they do their work.
On top of that, Amazon is allowing the seasonal workers to choose how many hours they work, with some limitations: in a standard week, new employees can choose to work just one hour or as many as 30 hours.
The company says it’s looking for “internet savvy” people who have a high school diploma. But it also wants people who can “think outside the box, solve problems, answer questions, and resolve concerns presented by our Amazon customers.”
Amazon’s hiring spree raises questions about the advantages and disadvantages of work from home call centers. The advantages are fairly obvious: employees can work from the comfort of their home, boosting their morale, while the company can avoid having to pay for office space.
However, there are potential disadvantages to Amazon’s customer service implementation. For one, it can be difficult for work-from-home employees to seek assistance from managers should problems arise. Second, there can be concerns about the protection of customer data, particularly if workers are encouraged to use their own computer hardware and software. Amazon may be the online retail leader, but competitors are adopting more robust self-serve and digital customer service options and that can set them apart as a great alternative to Amazon.
Amazon is asking work from home call center employees to use their own computers and has established clear hardware requirements. As for software, the company is requiring workers have either Windows or Mac OSX installed. Interestingly, the company is asking work from home employees to uninstall third-party antivirus programs from firms like Norton, McAfee, AVG and Kaspersky.
Given the magnitude of Amazon’s work from home hiring effort, there’s a good chance we’ll have reports of the program’s success in the new year.
The next step for Amazon to fully implement a true cloud customer service program is to introduce digital messaging channels to its contact info. Online retailers like Newegg have prepared for the holiday rush with text and Facebook Messenger as low cost alternatives to phone calls.