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Exploring the Ideal Home Office Setup for a CSR

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/24/2011

Filling home based customer service jobs requires a home office setup that is uniquely adaptable to the needs of a part-time phone and part-time computer operator. Learn about must-have hardware and software requirements as well as ancillary considerations.

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    Customer Service Jobs without the Commute

    Headset by Architetto Francesco Rollandin/Wikimedia Commons (PD) Work from home jobs that focus on customer service or virtual call center tasks are not that difficult to come by. Workers usually sign up with a clearing house company that then matches their qualifications with the needs of businesses.

    For example, Alpine Access is a well known company that provides online jobs for customer service representatives (CSRs) while offering employee benefits to its home workers. These at-home customer service jobs require the worker to be able to act on behalf of various kinds of companies. Examples of possible clients include Fortune 50 publishing companies and retailers, roadside assistance services and also foreign-based online retailers.

    The CSR must develop a basic working knowledge of the companies he is representing while at the same time also being able to do some customer account troubleshooting and perhaps also up-selling. Success at home based customer service positions is therefore quite frequently dependent on product knowledge.

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    Computer Setup

    Clearing house companies specify up front that those seeking jobs must own a computer and Internet connection. They also determine details of the office machinery in the home office setup, Mac vs. PC connectivity and other prerequisites. Alpine Access goes a step further by also suggesting that the computer must have sufficient virtual memory to allow for the use and navigation of at least 15 open browser windows.

    This company specifies that workers must own a PC that runs Windows XP, Windows 7 or Vista and has at least 2 GB free hard drive space. Other companies might warn off those who would do CSR work with a home office put together on the cheap, by being very clear that only genuine Windows XP versions are acceptable -- which actually cancels out Vista (a program acceptable to other outfits).

    Another company, Arise, offers Mac aficionados an opportunity to put their machines to work. The would-be CSR must have a Mac with a 1.6 Ghz processor and at least one gigabyte of RAM. The operating system should be Mac OS X 10.5.x Leopard.

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    Phone Requirements

    Telephones used for this kind of home office work must be landline-supported corded phones. Companies generally do not accept cordless or cell phones and even VoIP phones do not pass muster. A dedicated business line is a must and an unlimited long distance calling plan is highly recommended.

    With Alpine, the worker is responsible for buying a USB headset that connects to the PC via a USB port. This is required for the initial training period. A corded telephone headset is another requirement shared by almost all companies; it is used – after training – to take customer calls. It must be equipped with a noise cancelling microphone.

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    Final Home Office Setup Considerations

    Even as these home based customer service jobs are lauded as being perfect for the stay at home parent, it should be made clear that the companies offering workers the opportunity to act as a CSR from home will not tolerate the sounds of playing children in the background. Learning how to work from home with children is crucial!

    File cabinets and ring binders are worthwhile investments. If sales and tech support are part and parcel of the customer service jobs the worker will perform from home, having quick and easy access to company-specific handbooks, literature, sales flyers and schematics is a prerequisite.

    Since the highest paying jobs are frequently also the bilingual positions, workers who are fluent in two languages should have dictionaries on-hand to verify the up to date usage of idioms.

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    • Alpine Access. “Current Opportunities" at (accessed May 30, 2011)
    • Arise. “Current Opportunities" at (accessed May 30, 2011)