Managing Remote Customer Service Teams — Guide for Leaders

Gladly Team

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4 minute read

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As ecommerce businesses grow, their support teams often expand beyond the confines of a single office. When managing remote customer service teams, leaders in these departments need to take a few extra steps to communicate effectively, maintain morale, and keep staff connected and engaged.

Let’s explore some of the common challenges for leaders who manage remote service teams, as well as the tools that make it easier for them to manage team members across the world.

What Are the Challenges of Managing a Remote Team?

The biggest challenge managers face when leading remote customer service teams is poor communication, which can lead to micromanagement and low morale.

Poor communication

Poor communication is the root cause of many remote team issues and can have a negative ripple effect. When managers fail to encourage collaboration, set goals and expectations, and have conversations with their teams, employees will feel disconnected and lose interest.

Micromanagement

Poor communication leads to underperforming employees, thereby forcing team leaders to provide unnecessary micromanagement. This is a result of managers either not clearly relaying expectations or struggling to delegate, which in turn takes autonomy away from employees.

Issues with morale

Ultimately, all of the above leads to low morale and can cause churn if not addressed. This dissatisfaction is a root cause of poor employee performance, something that’s afflicting workforces across the globe (support centers especially). A recent Gallup study found that a shocking 80% of employees feel generally disengaged at work.

How Do You Run a Remote Team Successfully?

In order to run remote teams successfully, managers need to establish thorough workforce management policies, have consistent conversations with team members, and support a culture that keeps staff engaged with one another.

Engage with customer service agents consistently

Managers are responsible for making sure their teams can work efficiently, which is difficult when employees are scattered all over the country (or the world). Here are some workarounds:

  • Conduct weekly or monthly one-on-ones, stand-ups, or other regular gut checks with team members to discuss challenges, goals, and feedback on how they can improve their support KPIs.
  • Help agents identify the areas where they feel particularly skilled, where they can improve, or how they might transition into leadership opportunities.
  • Build out an onboarding process that’s easy to understand and quick to master, using a platform that makes digital connection as simple as possible.
  • Identify the best remote work practices by incorporating workforce management tools that allow you to conduct cross-channel staffing, use insights to identify areas for success and improvement, and even give team members an opportunity to apply themselves in other areas where they might find more success.

Promote a strong culture

Ensuring work gets done is of course crucial, but managers also need to maintain a positive culture. To do so, team leaders can incorporate a few regular policies and activities that boost happiness and enthusiasm within their teams.

  • Hold monthly or quarterly team-building meetings to keep staff connected and involved with one another. These meet-ups can include activities like icebreakers and virtual games played over video chat.
  • Encourage staff to take vacation or mental health days. Since 87% of service agents report high or very high-stress levels at their jobs, giving them space to decompress after a tough call is critical for a remote environment.
  • Highlight agent success stories during team meetings so that the entire team can help celebrate them.
  • Champion big team wins, like resolving major customer issues, handling the support of a new product or service launch successfully, or reaching other milestones.

Tools for Managing Remote Customer Service Teams

Strong management is essential for modern ecommerce brands with remote customer service teams. If management fails remote teams, agent attrition will spike and businesses will lose time and money on finding replacements. Meanwhile, highly motivated employees (remote or otherwise) are proven to be far more profitable.

Customer Service Software That Helps, Not Hinders

To boost remote worker morale and create more productive employees, find a platform that paves the way for success and empowerment. With Gladly, support centers can tap into workforce management tools, task management tools for team collaboration and communication, and even People Match to automatically place agents in the support situations they thrive in and that are aligned with their career growth goals.

As support teams become more physically distant through remote work, the onus falls on managers to maintain productivity as well as morale.

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