Viking Office Products, in conjunction with its parent company, $12.3 billion Delray Beach, FL-based cataloger/retailer Office Depot, is slowly outsourcing the handling of a portion of its incoming calls, a move that could mean closure for a number of the company’s 13 call centers. The company already announced that it would close its Wichita, KS, call center in March. The center, which employs about 80 full-time and 30 part-time employees, opened in 1997.
Office Depot in June signed a one-year deal with Golden, CO-based Alpine Access Corp. to provide inbound call center support using home-based agents. Through its proprietary software, Alpine provides the home-based agents access to Office Depot’s and Viking’s order entry system through an Internet connection via a PC and a DSL connection or modem, according to Alpine Access CEO Reg Foster. The company can monitor calls as well as offer cross-selling and upselling programs.
According to Office Depot spokesperson Brian Levine, Viking and Office Depot have about 800 customer service reps working from home. By outsourcing the call center functions, Office Depot doesn’t have to concern itself with rent or maintenance issues. What’s more, because the workers are employees of the third-party provider, Office Depot does not have to pay for benefits.