Going fully remote is a relatively new concept, especially for customer service. So even if you’re interested in making your support team remote, you may still have some reservations.
That’s why we’d like to address your concerns with some facts and best practices. Maybe you’ve got some questions like:
- Can a remote team do great work without direct supervision?
- Is there a company culture without a physical office?
- How do you motivate a team spread out across the world?
But those questions have answers if you know where to look, and you might find out why going remote makes a lot of sense.
Your customers are already online
The world is changing faster than anyone could imagine.
At this minute, over 60% of the world’s population is on the worldwide web, shopping, chatting, posting selfies, writing emails, and working.
Digital acceleration has five billion people using the internet as of 2022, which keeps growing by the day.
European customers, in particular, are online in significant numbers. Statista reports that over half a billion Europeans are e-shopping and that, with 85% of the population using the internet, Europe has the highest internet usage worldwide..
Meeting your customers online, where they’re already spending time and money, makes sense.
Remote customer service agents can inhabit the same sphere your customers do, often sharing time zones and native languages.
So about those concerns that you might have for remote customer service? Let’s tackle them together.
Can you deliver excellent service remotely?
The remote customer service model is the best thing to hit the industry since the 1800 toll-free number.
Industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Paypal, and Twitter are already exploring work from home solutions.
Gartner reports that 64% of customers find customer experience more important than price, where customers are concerned.
So knowing your online consumers are purchasing based on how they feel your brand treats them should also change how you support them.
It becomes critically important for your remote team to do a great job representing your brand; it’s how you’ll retain customers and build strong relationships.
But how do you make sure that happens?
5 ways to get the best out of your remote team
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, goes an old Chinese adage. Then, you place one foot in front of the other until you reach your goal.
The decision to go remote with your customer service is your first step. The next is getting the best out of your remote team to deliver outstanding service.
To reach your customer service goals, you need to build and lead a talented, hard-working, and high-quality remote team by addressing any concerns you might have.
Concern 1: how can you be sure your remote team is qualified to handle customers?
Your agents directly represent you in the public eye. They’re in direct touch with your customers, so you need to attract the best quality talent to serve them.
In the past, customer care often suffered from a lax attitude on behalf of companies. As a result, many overlooked service quality for empty customer queues and cheap hires.
Modern customers notice and react to service experiences. So they’ll stay loyal if it’s good or will buy from somewhere else, which affects turnover.
Existing customers are far more profitable than acquiring new ones, and your competition only benefits from customers who’ve left you due to poor service.
So make sure the people you’ve got serving them are qualified for the job.
Your customer service agents need to be qualified, talented, and pre-assessed to adequately address your customers’ needs.
Remote hiring lets you hire verified agents of every skill and qualification, and with an array of talent to choose from, you’ll be able to hire the best of the best.
Concern 2: how do you know your team is performing well?
When it comes to hygiene practices, a remote team is no different from an-office team.
- Try to implement a formal training, mentoring, and shadowing regimen for your agents and update your information portals often so they stay relevant.
Your work from home agents should always be up to speed on new developments, tools, products, bugs, or other information pertinent to their job.
- Make sure every agent knows everything about your product so that they can handle any customer query.
Much like Disneyland’s customer service philosophy: every member of staff, from janitor to ride attendant to cartoon mascot, is well-informed on each ride, location, timing, and park feature. All personnel have the knowledge to guide customers with whatever help they need.
You can create helpful and happy customer service by not siloing your service offerings – just like Disney.
- Ask your customers what they think of your customer service by monitoring your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score with regular surveys to track your rating.
CSAT ratings give you unmatched insight into individual agent performances, so you immediately know who may benefit from more training, one-on-one coaching, or mentoring.
Concern 3: how will employees stay loyal to your company?
The term office culture gets thrown around a lot with good reason.
Culture brings humans together; it’s a value system we share that helps us relate to one another. And it’s just as important at work as in society or at home.
However, there are no cafeterias or working lunches for your team to meet and bond over in a virtual office.
It would help if you fostered this environment regardless.
Remote work can be isolating for people who don’t get to spend time with colleagues to kick back and destress or share a laugh. Try to:
- Create virtual play spaces
Enable people to share moments of leisure with each. Tools like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams let people come together for a chat, well-placed memes, or timely work advice.
- Schedule weekly team meetings for fun
People shouldn’t meet just for work. An informal get-together brings the team closer and creates your own remote office culture. Video chats are more valuable than text-based ones; we like seeing other humans as humans.
- Pencil in catch-up conversations
Let team members and supervisors address issues and concerns when they occur, not later. When working remotely, it’s essential to nurture the development of such human relationships. It’s how employees can relate to your brand and feel tangible loyalty to your workplace.
- Keep your expectations realistic
Working remotely full-time can lead to burnout, so be realistic when setting targets. After all, a healthy, productive, and happy team is far better than a stressed, overworked, and unhappy one.
Concern 4: can employees collaborate effectively without a physical office?
In traditional brick and mortar offices, colleagues and bosses can walk to one another’s cubicles to talk about work or share information.
How can you facilitate that in a cloud office?
For every physical feature of a traditional office, think digital. Many online services work just as well for communication.
- Microsoft Teams is super easy to use for office chats
Use it for official and unofficial communication. Who doesn’t love a mid-day cat meme as a break from spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations?
- Tools like Slack let you create targeted teams
You can segregate your agents or projects into quick work groups to allow easy organisational cross-talk.
- Zoom meetings are great for brainstorming sessions
Use these video meetings for updates, and face-to-face coordination.
The great thing about digital is you don’t have to wait for someone to return to the office or leave post-its. Instead, emails, Slack posts, and Teams messages ensure everything you want to say is right there for when they see it.
Enthuse your team by embracing a digital-first office culture because it’s never been easier to collaborate digitally.
Concern 5: how will work flow without traditional supervision?
Ditching a physical office is a chance to embrace a new professional mindset. So why cling to outdated working methods?
Forge a new remote work culture by letting go of unnecessary red tape.
Empower your agents to take immediate decisions that add value to customer interactions. Trust their instinct on what’s required to make grumpy customers happy, convert apathetic ones to fans, and deliver excellent service.
Isn’t that why you hired them?
Customers don’t want to be on hold while agents keep escalating for handling approvals. Let your team make the best judgement calls to provide first-class service on the spot.
Speed, knowledge, and friendliness of service impress customers the most.
So try not to worry so much about traditional supervisory methods. Instead, keep your agent training and mentoring on point so your team knows its job well and monitor customer feedback to see how well they’re really doing.
Fortune favours the bold
Remote customer service benefits consumers, employees, and employers.
It gives customers access to talented, multilingual support on a digital platform at all hours.
It attracts a modern workforce who prefer the work-life balance and salary savings a remote job enhances.
And it directly impacts your company’s bottom line through cost savings on resources, lower turnover, and greater customer satisfaction.
When you lead a happy team, you don’t have to worry about the agent—or customer—churn.
Remote customer service is a brilliant idea whose time has come.
We built Cocoroco, the world’s first online talent marketplace, keeping all these benefits in mind.
Our platform matches you to talented individuals the world over so you can win the war for talent without raising a sweat.