How to Build a Great Remote Customer Service Team
⏱ Reading Time: 9 minutes
Remote work is becoming more common than ever, for two reasons; one, it’s profitable for the employers, and two, employees want to work from home. One 2019 study finds that 99% of respondents would like to work remotely at least part-time.
In the same study, 84% of respondents who can work from home said that they do so most of the time. It proves that, in many industries, businesses can function properly and efficiently with entire teams working from home. This also goes for the customer service sector, where people only need access to communication tools.
Building a great remote customer service team can save your business money, avoid wasting resources, and give employees the freedom they crave. Additionally, the recent outbreak of the coronavirus has made us more aware of the importance of adaptability. Thankfully, the Internet, with its’ huge range of technological tools makes it possible to embrace and employ this flexible working system.
8 Ways to Build a Remote Customer Service Team
1. Remote Work Boosts Efficiency
Working remotely is better for your business, and there doesn’t have to be any compromise if you get it right. By implementing a remote work strategy focused on those who can utilize it best, your business will save money and have happier, more functional teams. This is particularly true in the case of customer service teams since they can be easily supplied with all the necessary equipment.
A 2015 survey showed that remote work actually gets more things done. Specifically, it found that out of the 39% who occassionally work from home, 77% reported getting more done off-site. Another 30% reported getting more done in less time. In customer service, the ability to operate quickly is key to shortening waiting times and making customers feel heard.
The same study showed that this system is ideal for customer service agents, too, as email was the most-used digital communication tool, preferred 47% of the time. This was followed by 36% for video conferencing, 32% for VoIP chats and Skype. Modern customer service representatives may only need access to a computer to complete their work, using a headset and VoIP chat services instead of a regular telephone.
2. Provide 24/7 Support
24-7 chat support is the standard in 2020. The world works different hours, in a bigger range of industries than ever before, and with more people looking to manage their lives outside of the usual 9 – 5 timeframe.
In 2020 and beyond, all companies should be looking at moving towards a 24-7 customer service model. This requires a reliable, professional, and efficient remote customer service team equipped with the tools and expertise required to get the job done.
For sales-focused operations, a 24-7 support model is necessary to increase sales. A well-organized and innovative marketing strategy is the first step, but it will fail if there aren’t enough team members available to handle support requests. And if you only open during the same hours that most people go to work, you’re missing out on a huge number of sales every single day.
Picture 1. 24/7 support
3. Draw From an International Talent Pool
One of the benefits of a remote customer service team is the ability to draw from a larger talent pool. This helps you enhance your team and ensure you always have the right people for the right job.
When it comes to hiring customer service agents, businesses often hire people from their local area. This can sometimes make if the pool a little small and thus make the whole hiring process a little more challenging.
A remote customer service team allows you to hire based on skills, without the constraint of geolocation. As long as your new team speaks the right languages, has the necessary skils and a reliable internet connection, you can draw from any talent pool all over the world.
What’s more, the implementation of a 24-7 support line is dependent on either an international team or shift workers. Multiple studies have shown the danger of working around the clock over the years. Working nights, and changing shifts frequently, has a negative impact on any worker’s psychological and physical health and should always be avoided where possible. Sleeping less than six hours per night presents a 13% higher mortality risk than someone getting seven to nine hours regularly, according to Rand Europe. It’s hardly a motivator for staff.
By instead opting for international staff, your company can keep a support line open and functioning at all times without falling into the trap of making staff work unhealthy hours.
4. Build a Live Chat Option and Train Your Team to Help More People
The introduction of live chat customer support has changed the way people interact with businesses. Studies show that people are reluctant to make phone calls, and this is even truer with millennials and younger generations. Millennials do not like phone calls and prefer to communicate via text message, email, or social media.
If you’d never heard about this, you’re in for a shock. Millennials hate phone calls so much that most keep their phone on mute or vibrate, and 80% would even trade the ability to make phone calls for unlimited data instead.
And, with more Millennials using customer service hotlines than ever, developing a live chat option is a key component in developing a remote customer service team that works. Not only will you increase the likelihood of customers interacting with your team, but you’ll have the perfect opportunity to convert those callers into buyers if they weren’t already.
If you want a remote customer service team that works, then build a live chat option that they can use to help people more quickly. No more waiting times for customers contacting via telephone, and no more long and drawn out conversations. Train your team to handle multiple cases at one time, prepare them with the answers to commonly asked questions, and ensure you hire people who think on their feet and come up with solutions for people with very specific questions and demands.
Live chat streamlines your customer service operations and brings out the best in your team.
Try Paldesk Live Chat!
5. Connect Your Team and Customers with SMS
Train your remote customer service team in the art of SMS marketing and communication, and they’ll go above and beyond most customer service teams. By incorporating a tool like Text Magic, which manages SMS communication with clients in a simple and easy-to-use API, your remote team can easily follow up with customers they have helped in the past.
With SMS, it’s possible to keep in touch with customers who require ongoing support, provide additional information, or even direct those customers to surveys and other materials. It’s a quick and easy way to instantly reach out to a client and show your commitment to maintaining solid communication, and not just disappearing after a phone call has ended.
Build your best team by ensuring your remote workers are familiar with SMS management systems and regularly use tech like this to maintain lines of communication with customers who may need ongoing support.
SMS can prove even more powerful, too, and act as an instant alert service for workers. Got something the team needs to know about instantly? Through SMS alerts, key information can quickly be distributed to every relevant person, a link to further information can be included, and your team will always be kept in the loop. No email conversations needed.
6. Prepare Your Remote Workers
Just because your workers are at home doesn’t mean you can’t prepare and train them in the same way you do normal stuff. Where possible, remote workers can be trained at your normal business facility. Current remote workers may spend time training new staff, but if this is not possible, there are ways to train staff remotely also.
Creating a workflow, ensuring your employees understand their aims clearly, and giving them the resources to answer questions authoritatively is what keeps your team going. To ensure your team understands their goals, consider setting up short quizzes and tests. Why? To help them nail the basics, before moving onto online training sessions that take place via video and audio conferencing.
Online workspaces can also help your team prepare, giving them access to key information that they’ll need to assist customers.
7. Separate Your Teams and Specialize
No customer service interaction is the same. Many of the same questions may be asked and your team must be well equipped to ask those frequently asked questions at all times. But that doesn’t mean every member of your team should have the same focus.
For any operation, it is essential to specialize in your team members. Identify the major areas of assistance that customers call about and split your team up. It will ensure very specific issues can be handled by those with the most experience. In a 24-7 customer service operation it’s also necessary to ensure that, while specializing your teams, someone from each specialist team is always available at any one time.
With these specialist teams, you can build a system that automatically directs customers to the people who can help them the most. But, to build the most effective and reliable team, you must ensure easy communication between each department. Why? So that a call or query can be quickly redirected when necessary.
8. Create Genuinely Useful Support Networks
People may be more productive and feel more comfortable working from home. Or from their own personal office space, but when something goes wrong it’s easy to feel alone and distant. For this reason, it’s important to create genuinely useful support networks.
Connecting people by email isn’t all you need to do. Every single one of your team members must know exactly who to speak to about any given issue. Ensure your teammates are well connected to other professionals in your business. Then understand the steps to take when troubleshooting problems, and feel comfortable reaching out to those they believe can help.
Support networks are crucial to the success of your operation, so make sure they’re genuinely useful.
Remote Teams Work, If You Nurture Them!
Your remote customer service team may not only prove to work, but could be the most productive, efficient operation in your entire business. By nurturing your team, taking advantage of a large talent pool, and fostering a culture of easy and open communication, you’ll connect with your customers better and keep people coming back.
Nurture your teams and your remote workers will soon be one of your most valuable assets.
Jennifer Houghton is a head writer at TextMagic. She writes about the latest marketing trends and shares useful tips for practical mobile marketing.
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