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Outsourced Call Center Provider Enables People with Disabilities to Work from Home

8x8 Virtual Contact Center delivers the ideal solution for Direct Interactions

Direct Interactions is an outsourced call center provider that hires Americans and veterans with disabilities, enabling them to work from home in the US. To recruit agents, Direct Interactions partners with the Wounded Warrior Project, based in Washington DC, and Hire America’s Heroes, a Seattle nonprofit.

Direct Interactions provides outsourced customer service, technical support and lead verification services for companies nationwide. As an employer of people with disabilities, Direct Interactions takes pride in what they do. The pillars of their business model are:
  • Providing cost-effective solutions for clients.
  • Being socially responsible in all businesses practices.
  • Being environmentally sustainable.
What we do is the opposite of offshoring,” explains Jonas Nicholson, CEO of Direct Interactions. “Especially in today’s economy, and for the future of our country, it’s important to keep jobs in the US. Our business is also cost-competitive and environmentally sustainable because our employees work from home. These aspects are what drew me and others to this company, and that’s what keeps us going every day. But business is business, and our model has to be profitable as well." To keep their business running profitably, Direct Interactions needed a virtual call center solution that would:
  • Easily adapt to agents with disabilities.
  • Provide flexible connectivity, allowing agents to work from home nationwide via VoIP or landline phones.
  • Record live calls and training sessions to remotely train new agents.
  • Be cost-effective to operate.
Direct Interactions chose 8x8 Virtual Contact Center because it met all five of the company’s selection criteria—and delivered even more.

Adapted For Agents with Disabilities

“Since 8x8 Virtual Contact Center is easily adapted for people with disabilities, it makes it easy for us to hire them,” says Nicholson. “As a result, we can recruit from a large labor pool of hardworking and technically savvy people—which is one of our secret sauces for success! When people lose a particular skill or ability, they compensate by getting better at other things. We find that people with limited mobility excel in using technology. They are motivated to work really hard and make great employees.”

8x8 Solution Highlights

  • Adaptable: Virtual Contact Center is easily adapted for people with disabilities—making it possible for Direct Interactions to achieve its goal of hiring from this technically savvy and hardworking labor pool.
  • Lower Agent Turnover: Virtual Contact Center helps keep agent turnover and absenteeism significantly below the industry average—reducing agent training, quality assurance and management costs.
  • Flexible Connectivity: Flexible connectivity via landline phone or VoIP gives agents maximum uptime.
  • Call Recording: By recording calls, Direct Interactions has condensed agent training time and reduced costs. The company also relies on call recording as an essential quality assurance tool.
  • Cost Savings: Virtual Contact Center dramatically reduces per-minute call costs. 

Lower Turnover Rate

According to Nicholson, agent turnover and absenteeism is significantly lower for Direct Interactions than the industry average—reducing the costs of agent training, quality assurance and management. In addition, Direct Interactions has found the turnover rate for employees with disabilities is dramatically lower than it is for other employees. “Our focus on hiring people with disabilities has been a winning strategy for us and our clients,” says Nicholson. 

“They take their time to do things right and once they are onboard with us, they stay for a long time—much longer than most companies are able to keep a customer service rep or a call center agent. When you’ve got the same agents managing your accounts for a long while, they become experts, and that means increased productivity. 8x8 Virtual Contact Center facilitates our ability to hire and manage this type of workforce.”

Supports Agent Uptime

At Direct Interactions, agent uptime is extremely high because of the flexibility and connectivity options 8x8 provides. If an agent is using a landline phone, and the line goes down, that agent can easily switch to VoIP—or vice versa.

Condensed Training Time

8x8 Virtual Contact Center includes a call recording capability that expedites agent training. “8x8 has definitely cut our training costs,” says Nicholson. “We record calls with 8x8 Virtual Contact Center and then use the recordings to train new agents. Managers can sort call recordings by duration to quickly identify long calls that could have been resolved faster, and provide examples of efficient call handling for trainees.”

The 8x8 Virtual Contact Center FAQ Knowledgebase has also been helpful in getting agents up to speed on clients’ products and services. In addition, it allows agents to address customer queries consistently, knowledgeably and quickly.

Quality Assurance

Because Direct Interaction’s agents work remotely, the company uses 8x8 Virtual Contact Center’s recording functionality for quality assurance. Supervisors can review offline the way agents handle calls and coach them accordingly, improving performance and productivity.

Labor Savings

Another advantage of 8x8 Virtual Contact Center is labor savings. “We use call routing and queuing to our advantage with low-volume clients,” explains Nicholson. “With 8x8, we can have one expert rep handle multiple low-volume accounts and prioritize based on our service level agreements with those accounts. This is particularly useful during off-hours support. We operate 24/7, and for some clients the phone will only ring 20 times during the night. Having one agent cover multiple accounts like this saves significant labor costs.”

8x8 Customer Support

Direct Interactions appreciates the highly responsive customer support they receive from 8x8 in maintaining their Virtual Contact Center. “We have employees all over the country, and don’t have a great deal of control over the technology that sits locally at our agents’ sites,” notes Nicholson. ”We’ve probably thrown a few curve balls at 8x8 in dealing with software on our agents’ local PCs, and 8x8 has always responded rapidly and effectively.”

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery and business continuity are key concerns for any organization with a call center. For Direct Interactions, they are critical. “Some clients essentially pay us for call center insurance,” explains Nicholson. “If their on-premises call center has an outage due to weather or if a lot of their agents are out sick, Direct Interactions will have 8x8 Virtual Contact Center agents standing by. Because our agents are geographically dispersed, we are less affected by the weather and illness than a traditional call center.”

Cost Savings

Direct Interactions replaced a premises-based virtual PBX housed off site in the San Francisco Bay Area with 8x8 Virtual Contact Center. “It’s apples to oranges, but when you make the comparison, we are saving a lot of money, because previously we were paying a much higher per-minute cost for calls,” reveals Nicholson.

Meeting Business Goals

Using 8x8 Virtual Contact Center enables Direct Interactions to cost-effectively deliver the benefits of their business model, both to employees and customers. According to Nicholson, “8x8 is a significant factor in our being able to continue to profitably run our company in alignment with our business goals. We are becoming a beacon for people looking for home-based careers, and that’s exciting for us.”

Case Summary

Direct Interactions, an outsourced call center provider, saves money and increases productivity using 8x8 Virtual Contact Center. Readily adaptable for people with disabilities, Virtual Contact Center makes it easy for employees, many of whom are disabled veterans, to work from home. Hiring Americans with disabilities reduces turnover, lowers training costs and improves customer service for Direct Interactions’ clients.