So your customer service team already works from home, or you are planning to create a hybrid or full-remote work system for your team. That’s a good thing and shows your interest in helping your employees balance life and work. But this may become a problem if you don’t have a good strategy in place to help you manage your remote customer support team.
Working remotely can be a challenge for any team, but it’s especially challenging when it comes to customer support teams. When you remove the natural visual cues of body language and proximity, it forces everyone to hone their communication skills even further.
Additionally, because everyone isn’t in the same office, keeping track of tasks becomes even more challenging. Without these challenges, however, it would be much easier to manage and operate remote teams with ease and efficiency. Fortunately for you, we have some tips on how to make this much easier for you and your team!
Whether you are a customer service manager or the managing director of a company, you will find these five tips quite helpful:
Communication is a multidimensional affair. Body language, tone of voice, and gestures, are other aspects of communication that we unconsciously process when talking to other people. Spoken words account for just about 10% of interpersonal communication, tone of voice accounts for 40%, and body language accounts for about 50%.
When you are several kilometres away from your team members, your mode of communication is a little slimmer than face-to-face communication. You can’t rule out the possibility of miscommunication or messages getting lost in transmission. Video calls help to bridge that gap, but you can’t be on a video call from 9 to 5 now can you?
Maybe other departments may easily get away with the problem of miscommunication, but customer support may not be so lucky, as you can’t afford to misrepresent customer messages or complaints.
To fix this with your remote customer support team, be as clear as possible with your team when communicating and encourage them to do the same. In other words, it’s okay to overcommunicate.
Also, don’t assume your team members would read between the line. If you feel some areas need clarification, please go ahead and provide such clarifications. If the exchange is via text, for instance, you may want to call them to make sure you are on the same page.
Encourage your remote customer service team members to provide all needed information to whoever is taking over from them after a shift.
The success of a customer service team, remote or onsite, depends a lot on using the right tools. These tools include CRM tools, project management tools and even internal communication tools.
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A remote team is going to need a lot of collaboration and communication. Without seeing each other daily, it gets quite difficult to communicate effectively and track customer needs. Hence, the need to have the right tools in place.
Invest in a comprehensive CRM, specifically one that supports omnichannel customer service. With a tool like this, you and your team can work from one source of truth and easily track all customer communication and chat history from one place. Several businesses trust NotchCX CRM for this.
For internal team communications, you can start with tools like Microsoft Teams. This helps with fast communication and collaboration among team members. You can also quickly jump on an audio or video call whenever you need to.
Follow that up with a good project management solution such as Microsoft Project. With this tool, you can easily manage, assign tasks and set timelines with your remote customer service team. You also get to see an overview of what every team member is doing per time and update when necessary.
This point can’t be overemphasized. As the customer service manager or business owner, you must be cautious when hiring so you won’t have problems while managing your remote customer service team.
Levels of employee productivity naturally vary from person to person. It can especially go south very quickly when not properly supervised.
A remote work environment requires self-discipline and motivation from your employees. It’s going to be difficult to manage your remote customer support team if the team members need constant supervision to be productive.
You, therefore, need to painstakingly hire the right employees. Hiring people with previous customer service experience is also a good idea. This will make your job a lot easier. But it’s almost more crucial to make sure they are people who are driven.
“Hire Character. Train Skill” – Peter Schutz. You may sometimes need to hire the best ‘person’ who is internally driven to learn and get things done, over the best ‘skilled’ person who is laid back.
There is a very thin line between hands-on management and micromanaging your remote customer service team. Very few people want to be micromanaged. A study by Accountemps found that up to 59% of people have been managed by a micromanager at some point in their career, and 68% of them said it decreased their morale.
An attempt to constantly stay on top of situations may unintentionally turn you into a micro-manager.
For instance, if you tell one of your remote customer service team members to make their email to a customer more personal, that’s just you giving them feedback that would help them do their job better and generally help the organization retain more customers. But what makes you a micromanager in a similar situation is ‘holding the person’s hands’ to type the email. You also shouldn’t be leaving nasty comments to the said message about the issue. Guide your team, but don’t hand hold them except where necessary, ie. inexperienced staff.
To manage a remote customer service team effectively, ensure to give your team members the space when it’s needed. To do this, you would have to learn to trust that they can deliver and ensure to communicate this to them.
Make your team members feel like real owners. Allow them to devise, implement, and assess action plans instead of handholding them.
For instance, are there ways to make your internal escalation process more efficient and quick? Get one of your team members to come up with a plan and put it into action. If it doesn’t work out as expected, encourage them to iterate quickly and move on.
Manage your remote customer support team effectively by giving them productive work rather than boring, repetitive tasks. Providing them with repetitive tasks will cause them to lose interest in their work, which will be detrimental to your business.
You may want to consider automating all repetitive customer service tasks. Frequently asked questions and pricing queries are examples of repetitive tasks that you should consider automating. This is why self-service is one of the customer service trends of 2022.
With automation, your remote customer service team will only get to work on tasks that will motivate, challenge and help them improve, as against boring and repetitive tasks.
The mindset required to manage a remote customer service team is rather different compared to that of managing an on-site team. There are a few ways things could go wrong when your team works unsupervised, that will impact your company’s bottom line. But they are all very manageable.
Consequently, you can manage your remote customer support team by following the tips and techniques in this post. You’ll soon see how rapidly they contribute to the growth of your business.
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