Whether it’s because of this global pandemic, emergence of self-employed individuals, or the fact that companies have teams spread out across different continents, the world is gradually warming up to the idea of working from home.
The Workplace Survey 2019, conducted by the stationery giant Staples, reveals that several companies are using a work-from-home policy to foster a more flexible and balanced workplace environment for their teams. According to the survey, 77% of the employers claim that a remote-working policy helps bring down operating costs, while 67% of the employees consider leaving a workplace if it doesn’t offer this flexibility.
While working from home does sound like a great idea, it comes with its own set of challenges, the foremost being team management. This holds especially true for customer support teams, which are often already spread out across different locations and—in many cases—are responding to people all across the globe.
Strategies on managing customer support with a remote team
Fortunately, the virtual world has a bundle of tools and apps that help recreate the efficiency of a office in a remote setup. If you’re struggling to manage your scattered customer support team while keeping morale high, here are 5 useful tips to consider.
Many companies have been using project management tools even while working remotely. Project Managements tools consolidate everything in one place , making it easier to assign and track tasks. While emails and phone calls are important channels of communication, they do pose the risk of information slipping through the cracks.
Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tools is vital in a remote working environment.. As a project manager, it will save you the hassle of sending out hundreds of emails and following up your teams customer tickets.
Through CRM tools,teams can clearly see which tickets each member is responsible for and who to reach out to for a particular requirement. This will also ensure smooth and efficient handling of customer grievances and prevent scenarios where more than one person ends up handling the same ticket. The last thing you want is for their complaints to get lost without being attended to.
Choose a CRM software that best suits your budget and the size of your team. Among the most popular CRM tools is Salesforce, which offers low-cost software for small businesses called Lightning Essentials ($25/month/user). Other software offering free versions are Zoho, Hubspot, and Agile CRM.
If every CRM associate had to frame fresh responses to customer queries, resolution speeds would greatly increase. Moreover, there are times when even the most experienced members would be faced with an issue that requires more research or consultation with other teams.
In a typical workplace, you could just hop over to your colleague’s desk and clarify your concerns. In a remote setup, however, you don’t have that option. Sending an email to the concerned person, especially if that person is in another time zone, could delay the resolution—losing customer confidence .
Every CRM team needs a knowledge base centre. This is a collection of important information about the company and its products and services. It serves as a guide to the most common customer queries and troubleshooting solutions.
Make sure you upload a comprehensive knowledge base guide on each project management tool you are using for everyone access it. Encourage team members to update it every time they come across a unique query.
That ever-so-important Monday morning team meeting may not seem feasible in a remote-working situation. Fortunately, video apps such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have made the task of organizing remote easier. As a manager, you should organize chats regularly in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page as far as customer service is concerned. This will help you gauge the progress and flag any difficult customer complaints.
Also, don’t let geographical barriers come in the way of training new customer service reps. There are several webinars and online classroom apps such as Blackboard Collaborate, Webinar Jam, and Click meeting you can use to conduct training sessions.
As a manager, if you try to be on top of what each member is doing, you’re not only making your job harder but also creating an atmosphere of stress and distrust. Good leaders are those who lead by example but also know when to give their team the autonomy to make decisions.
Moreover, when people are entrusted with responsibility and accountability, they end up being more invested doing their work efficiently.
Project management tools such as Asana, ClickUp, and Trello helps you see each task, who it’s assigned to and its progress at any given point in time. You can also keep track of progress on customer complaints on your CRM tool.
Customer service is a tough job. It can be exhausting and, at times, even frustrating, especially when dealing with particularly angry customers. In a typical office environment, your team has the freedom to let off some steam by chatting with other colleagues by the water cooler or during lunch or tea/coffee breaks. However, for a remote team, you need a virtual water cooler.
One way you could do this is to build your own unique website or web page on the Internet where everyone can share the new series they’re following or an interesting book they’re reading. You can add more zest to this space by giving a unique identity (domain name) such as www.teamlab.fun or www.getcreative.space.
Little breaks or general discussions about things apart from work, such as weekend/vacation plans, new movie releases, sports, politics or anything else, are as important as the work itself.
Not only do they help people de-stress and improve their productivity but also help coworkers form stronger bonds.
Managing customer support with a remote team can seem daunting. But once you have familiarized yourself and your team with cloud-based technology—and getting into the routine of things by organizing regular video meetings, follow-ups and downtime— you can rest assured that you will adapt quickly.