While the pandemic is continuing to encourage staff to work remotely in many companies, remote working practices are set to become a permanent part of modern working life. A recent poll conducted by Robert Half found 70% of employees would prefer to split their work time between home and the office ongoing. But when it comes to managing your remote customer service team – the face of your business – the pressure is on to maintain high-quality customer service consistently no matter where your staff are working or what challenges they face.
With the potential to earn customers’ trust, confidence, and loyalty during an uncertain time, excellent customer service is likely to be a major driver of business success this year. So, here are some ways you can prepare your remote customer service team for top performance in 2021 and beyond.
Use voice and video conferencing solutions internally and externally
Customer service is a highly interpersonal profession where strong relationships are often built through excellent communication skills and proactive interactions. Unsurprisingly, these characteristics are often reflected in the way customer service staff cooperate with each other, which helps to maintain those important soft skills while freely sharing experiences and best practices. Using voice and video conferencing software to facilitate interactive team meetings, training sessions, and catchups could help to break down the physical and geographical boundaries between your staff.
What’s more, with the global video conferencing market expected to double from US $5.32bn in 2019 to $10.92bn in 2027, it’s likely that virtual interactions will become an increasingly important channel for enhancing the quality of your customer service experience. Video conferencing tools can help build more personalised connections with the added convenience of saving your team time and money.
Ensure your remote customer service team is appropriately staffed
2021 is likely to be a turbulent time for many companies as economies set their sights on post-pandemic revival. Consequently, remote customer service teams are likely to experience elevated workloads in a relatively unstable climate where customer queries and issues are continuously changing and growing in complexity.
To ensure your customers’ needs are always met without staff becoming stressed or overworked, it’s important to ensure your remote customer service team is adequately staffed with customer service representatives and customer service managers, which could involve using an adjustable mix of contract and permanent staff to quickly respond to changing workloads.
Implement project management software
Using Excel spreadsheets to manage activities isn’t exactly a sustainable long-term solution to effectively organising team tasks. With multiple people manually entering and saving information across documents, you can run into data integrity issues while sharing documents over email can cause a real headache when it comes to making sure people are always working from the most up-to-date document. On top of this, it’s difficult for team members to prioritise and organise their tasks when email inboxes are the only tool they’ve got to communicate and collaborate on projects at a distance.
Implementing a cloud-based project management tool will give your remote customer service team an easy and reliable way to collaborate and manage tasks and projects. While there are plenty of options to choose from according to your budget and needs, having talented tech staff on board will be crucial to help identify and implement the right tools for your organisation.
Keep your website’s support pages and FAQs up to date
Customers often find themselves reaching out to customer service staff as a last resort because, despite their best efforts, they can’t find the information they’re looking for online. So, keeping your website’s support pages up to date with frequently asked questions and new information about your products and services could do a great deal to alleviate the unnecessary workload on your remote customer service team.
Engage online chat tools
By integrating online chat tools into your website, you can support your remote customer service team by freeing up their time to focus on more complex or higher priority customer issues.
Essentially, the use of chat tools diverts more basic queries away from your valuable human resources while maintaining the personalised touch. What’s more, while advancing technology means automated chatbots are becoming capable of answering increasingly complex queries, collaborating with tech teams will be essential for getting the best out of your customer service technology into the future.
Build a solutions-focussed information hub
A study into the effects of the pandemic on the difficulty of customer service interactions found that the number of calls scored as “difficult” by the average company doubled from 10% to 20% after COVID-19 emerged.
It’s true, the pandemic has seen many customer service teams deal with more curly and complex questions as new situations, circumstances, and problems arise. A central knowledge hub, where the solutions to unique customer issues are recorded and easily accessible, could equip your remote customer service team to resolve unfamiliar issues in the quickest possible time.
Set your remote customer service team up for success
There are several challenges to successfully managing a remote customer service team, and at the same time, the demands on your team throughout an unpredictable 2021 are likely to be significant. By implementing a few best practice techniques and fine-tuning your remote operations, you could give your staff the empowerment and support they need to deliver a consistently high-quality of service at home and in the office.
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