There Are Remote Call Center Workers, and Then There Are Mods. Here’s the Difference.

Over the past month, much of the business world has had to quickly adapt to the remote model. Companies are sending emails to everyone in their contact list talking about how they’ve got everything covered because their people work from home now. 

Yet not everyone is equipped (literally and figuratively) to do contact work remotely.

A case in point. I attempted to order some flower arrangements for our extended family’s Easter party, which we did via video conference this year. When the national floral merchant’s website kept crashing, an error message directed me to call them. Fortunately, I was able to talk to a live agent, but a call that should have been just ten minutes dragged out to an hour.

The first thing I noticed was feedback from the agent’s breathing, which was weirdly distracting. The agent also kept muting herself because her dog was barking in the background. The call was taking forever and her computer proved useless, so she resorted to writing things down on a piece of paper. I had to repeat my credit card number probably 12 times.

Finally, the agent confessed, “I’m sorry. I usually work at a call center. They sent us home last week, and we’re just all trying to figure it out. I have a really slow computer and really terrible internet.”

She was a very nice person, but it just solidified something I’ve known for a long time. Remote working really isn’t for every individual and it’s not for every company.

The vast majority of us at ModSquad work from home and always have. Why does it work for us?

It’s because we have high hurdles for our Mods to clear before they can engage from home with our clients’ customers. We have strict screening and processes that have been in place for almost 13 years.  

First, not just anyone can be a Mod. In fact, we only onboard (place on a project) about 1% of the Mods who apply to be in our network. We like to compare that to Harvard’s 4.64% admission rate — 2,009 out of 43,330 applicants for their class of 2023 — and say it’s 4x harder to work for us than to get into Harvard. Our Mods are the One Percenters!

We’re not just choosy about our people, but we’re also strict with our tech requirements. All applicants must fulfill requirements around computer hardware (OS, RAM, free disk space), software (browsers, antivirus, firewall, and other security software), connectivity (secured and encrypted), and specific peripherals such as headsets.

As securing remote work is critical, our Mods also undergo extensive background checks and are then required to follow policies overseeing their use of email, passwords, hardware, and physical media. Rigorous security requirements govern and protect information, office procedures, and ensure compliance with government regulations. And we keep it all safe with VPNs, IP restrictions, and data-loss prevention policies. 

We then extensively test our Mods, from speed tests — to challenges designed to ascertain their level of expertise on the services we provide — to ambient background noises (dogs loved, not heard).

We’ve put a ton of work into building up the Mod network with the best professionals available. We discovered long ago what so many companies are now realizing, that it’s not so easy to just throw people into a work-from-home situation.

When I started this company in 2007, I wanted to bring together smart, sophisticated people to do amazing work but still be able to be at home and be close to their families. It’s not as easy as it looks, but we’ve proven that it can be done. It takes intelligent planning, carefully-considered systems and procedures, and a hella-impressive group of people.

— Amy Pritchard, CEO

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