Technology has enabled many companies to take advantage of a remote workforce, and this offers businesses incredible benefits. For example, you can have access to skilled workers in other areas, and you can save money by keeping overhead as low as possible.
However, there are challenges associated with managing a remote workforce, including your employees who deal with customers. You may wonder how you can keep them productive and accountable, and this is particularly true if your team operates around the clock. You may also be wondering how you can support your team while ensuring that important matters are not overlooked. While managing a remote customer service team can be challenging, you can walk through these steps to enjoy the best results.
Step 1: Make Sure to Employ the Right Candidates
The individuals who join your remote customer service team will play a critical role in the success of your endeavor. Working from home is not something that is ideal for all individuals, so always look for someone who has worked as a freelancer or contractor in the past and who has thrived in this type of remote work environment.
When interviewing different people, ask about their past work experience and preferred work environment. Ask about work hours they keep and their preferred location, such as a home office or a coffee shop. Because you are hiring for a customer service position, you should also ask about exceptional or unusual steps they have taken in the past to make customers happy.
Step 2: Offer Training and Knowledge Bases
Every business needs excellent customer service team. Its purpose is to answer your customers’ questions and to address their concerns properly. Therefore, it is critical that you teach your team how to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. They should be trained to identify customers’ specific needs and desires and empowered to exceed expectations. Also, make sure that they are fully knowledgeable about your products and services before they get on the phone.
Properly training your new customer service representatives is critical, but it can still be hard to ensure that everyone is able to answer all questions. Consider setting up a private wiki that your team can use to search for the information they need. Another idea is for your team to put a caller on hold while asking a supervisor for clarification on a matter or to transfer the caller directly to a supervisor.
Step 3: Choose an Appropriate Software
If you have a remote customer service department, you must have an effective help desk software solution for your team to use. This program routes calls appropriately and ensures that each call is answered in a timely manner and by the appropriate party.
Some programs can also be used to improve customer experience. For example, they can track conversations and monitor customer relationships in different ways. When you have remote workers in various countries and time zones, the effective use of this type of software program is critical.
Look for a program that enables productivity and that allows managerial oversight without the need to micromanage your team. Ideally, the program will have a detailed yet user-friendly dashboard that shows each individual how many calls they have answered, how many issues they have resolved and how many hours have been worked. Managers may have a customized dashboard as well that shows these statistics for each team member.
Step 4: Encourage Your Team to Be Productive
In order for your remote customer service team to be as productive as possible, they must be able to focus, communicate effectively, and manage their tasks. To encourage peak productivity, you may need to use various task management strategies and tools effectively.
For example, communication can be facilitated through the use of chat apps, and you may even instruct each team member to post comments about their daily experiences. Task management can be enabled through Trello, which identifies short and long-term goals as well as progressive steps that each worker is making to achieve the goals.
Carefully research the different tools available for your team to use before implementing any. It can take time and effort for your team to learn how to use tools effectively, so avoid trying out multiple tools if possible.
Step 5: Provide Benefits and Acknowledge Achievement
If you want your remote customer service team to work hard and to provide great service to your customers, they should be properly compensated. An excellent salary and benefits fosters motivation and a positive attitude.
You should also provide each person with opportunities for self-development as well as a reasonable amount of vacation time and sick time. Remember that some people simply need to take a mental health day from time to time to recharge, and this should be encouraged because it can promote enhanced productivity.
You should also show signs of appreciation to your team. Everyone should be aware of the importance of their individual contributions, and they should be identified and praised for excelling in their positions. Everything from a small word of thanks to a financial bonus may be ideal depending on the circumstances.
Remote work can be an ideal situation for many workers, but it is not the best option for some individuals. There are challenges that you will face when selecting new remote workers to join your team as well as when you are managing them. Consider walking through these helpful steps to enjoy the best results from your remote workforce.
Guest Contributor: Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon