The calendar is flipping fast and before we know it, we’ll be welcoming 2022. By now, you’re well aware of the perks of remote work, such as no commute and more time on your hands, cost savings on fuel and office overheads, ability to hire from a wider talent pool, and so on.
But with those pros come some cons. Especially for your customer service team, who’s used to working in a fast-paced, dynamic office environment.
While there are plenty of challenges any remote team faces, here we’ll dive deep into the three key ones that every remote customer service team faces, plus tips and tools to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Tackling increased customer support requests
The pandemic led customers to quickly adopt the convenience and hassles of purchasing just about everything online. This naturally means an increase in support requests which, to a large extent, includes basic queries such as “Where is my order?”, “How can I return this?”, and the like.
So while the need for customer support is rising, your remote support team’s workload doesn’t necessarily have to. Customers actually prefer self-service over sending emails, submitting help desk tickets, or waiting for the next available service rep on the phone.
Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report suggests 69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own, and 63% of customers always or almost always start with a search on a company’s online resources when they have an issue.
A couple of effective self-service solutions include:
- Chatbots: An amazing customer service tool that gives instant answers to your customers’ commonly asked questions round the clock, is immune to frustration, and can even guide your customers to different pages on your website based on what they’re looking for. Using an AI-powered chatbot solution can also help you add a touch of personalization.
- Knowledge base: A knowledge base is essentially a centralized repository of easily accessible information (FAQs, usage guides, etc.) about your products, business policies (subscription, returns, data privacy, etc.), and other niche-relevant topics. Use a knowledge base tool to let customers easily search for support info and get detailed answers on their own.
With such self-service solutions in place, your customer service team can focus on resolving more complex issues that truly require a personalized human interaction. Their time and energy are better spent in ensuring customer satisfaction, which in turn translates into greater job satisfaction and less unnecessary overwhelm for your team.
Also, promote the use of live chat over phone calls and large email threads. 41% of consumers prefer live chat for contacting support teams. Not only is it a quicker and more convenient way to interact, but live chat messages are a lot easier to manage and organize, making life easier for your remote service team.
Furthermore, to better maintain and improve customer relations, investing in a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution makes sense.
With the right cloud CRM, not only can you build a self-service chatbot and knowledge base to address all FAQs, but also capture and organize all customer data and queries in a central hub so your remote support team has easy access to all the information and can readily check the status of a customer prior to interaction.
Challenge #2: Keeping your remote team united
For uniform customer service across all touchpoints and reps, it’s important to keep your support team on the same page at all times. And when working remotely, doing so can be a bit of a challenge.
Sure, using a cloud CRM tool as mentioned above will be of great help in keeping all customer data and company information centrally accessible. It enables your remote reps to track past conversations with customers at-a-glance, so they can provide a consistent support experience.
But to keep your remote team united, there’s more to it than that. Your team needs to communicate and bond well with each other, too. After all, your business success is not just about customer relationships but employee relationships as well.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways and tools to keep your team united. Professional instant messaging tools like Slack or Skype enable your team to easily communicate and share feedback without hesitation. These tools allow for a somewhat informal yet professional approach to internal communication — with the use of GIFs and memes — and thus lead to a more engaged remote team.
You can create a remote service team group on these apps to encourage water-cooler conversations and knowledge/resource sharing. They can get to know each other better, talking about their interests, personal life, and local activities.
Another way to bolster unity is to hold a short video huddle meeting weekly so everyone gets to know how and what their colleagues are doing.
And don’t forget the importance of team-building even when working remotely. Regularly host fun team-building activities, such as virtual happy hours, competitive online gaming, fun quizzes, etc. to have everyone come together and create a positive remote working experience.
Challenge #3: Trouble keeping your team’s growth in mind
If you’re serious about being customer-first and providing outstanding customer service, you’ve likely already established some customer service key performance indicators (KPIs), such as:
- Average Resolution Time
- Customer Retention
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
- First Response Time (FRT)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
- And more.
When operating remotely, you need to frequently remind your team of these KPIs and the benchmarks they need to hit for optimal performance. If your team has clear KPIs that define their success at work, they’ll be able to better prioritize important tasks, reach their personal goals, and grow as customer service professionals.
Reward their hard work when they hit those benchmarks with bonuses, public recognition, personalized digital gift cards, etc. to keep them motivated.
Moreover, moving from a 100% in-office work environment to a fully remote team involves an element of change management and training. Your remote customer service team must accurately understand who they are helping on the other end of the phone, email, or social media, and how to do it effectively.
To ensure your remote service team consistently delivers high-quality customer support, host frequent training sessions on important subjects such as product knowledge, empathy, listening, crisis management, following up, maintaining a consistent tone of voice, etc.
With so many things to juggle at once, it’s easy to overlook your remote team’s goals. Even so, it’s vital to remember that your customer service team has a career path and professional goals they wish to hit. If you don’t acknowledge this, you risk losing them.
So whether your remote service reps work full-time from the same continent or part-time across different time zones, it is your duty to track these KPIs regularly and have routine one-on-ones, training, and a set of mutually agreed-upon goals.
While it’s certainly no easy feat to manage a remote customer service team — and there are sure to be hiccups — it’s very much possible to streamline your remote service operations for continued business growth.
With the right processes and cloud-based digital technology — CRM software, chatbot and knowledge base tools, and communication tools — your remote team will be happier and more efficient.
And above all, your customers will continue to enjoy top-notch service, boosting customer retention and word of mouth. So put the above tips and tools into practice right away!