March 24, 2020

Building Your Remote Customer Service Team: A Quick Guide

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remote customer service team

You may be suddenly finding yourself in one of two new situations. Either 1) you are building out a new customer service team that happens to be fully remote, or 2) you are having to transition to a remote one. While remote customer service teams are nothing new, best practices for building or transitioning to a remote team may seem unclear.

At the center of this seemingly big move is one goal: to ensure your agents are empowered so they can continue to provide the best possible customer experiences. Aside from the task of setting up your remote shop, it also begs the question of how to monitor this remote operation end to end.

In an effort to offer some clear and actionable guidelines, here are the 5 must-haves your remote agents need to be successful. We’ve also put together a checklist on 12 Steps to Set Up Your Remote Customer Service Team for greater detail.

1. Offer All Customer Service Channels Via The Web

With a 100% cloud-based platform, you mitigate the inevitable problems that come when you have to suddenly transition to an entirely remote team. Additionally, a platform with all customer experience channels fully integrated means an agent can assist the same customer no matter which channel or mix of channels they use. To ensure your remote agents can be agile, be sure your technology platform:

Has Voice included, built-in, and accessible via the internet. Having your phone call controls built into your customer service platform facilitates agents not having to be stuck at a desk and makes it easy for them to work from any location.

Has all other customer experience channels built in and ready to be used. This helps your customer service agents interact with customers from anywhere – their desk, a coffee shop or while traveling.

Is tied to a single view. If agents only need one browser tab open to work with all your customers, they can assist customers more efficiently.

Is 100% web-based. Your customer service team can transition to a remote work environment in a few days rather than months.

2. Empower Autonomous Customer Service 

When your customer service agents are all remote, it’s not easy for them to ask their neighbor questions on simple things like policy, procedure, and how to respond to a customer. Therefore, having one place where agents can access pertinent information will both streamline knowledge and empower agents to make the best decisions.

A built-in knowledge base. This is important when your remote team doesn’t have the ability to just turn to a neighbor and ask a question. Leverage a single knowledge base to publish answers across all channels and languages – including pre-stocked customer responses and public FAQs. With all systems integrated, you only need to author once and it’s published everywhere. This, in turn, makes agents more efficient by always remotely operating from the same playbook.

Agent autonomy and trust. Customer service agent autonomy means giving agents more autonomy to act on behalf of your brand. This may be as simple as being able to issue refunds under a certain limit without having to get approvals. It mitigates agents having to put a customer on hold to talk to a supervisor or transfer the call. It also puts the onus on the agent to find a responsible solution quickly.

3. Centralize Collaboration to Build Teamwork

It’s easy for team members to feel disconnected when working remotely. Staying in-sync with co-workers, getting help, and setting reminders for follow ups is even more challenging. Agents are going to need to align with one another so they can operate efficiently. This includes communications, follow ups, and relevant customer information to provide context. If collaboration is seamlessly integrated, agents can respond quickly to customer issues requiring teamwork. Your technology platform should:

Have seamless collaboration tools. Customer service teams need to stay in the loop and work together in context of customer requests.

Allow for collaboration based on customer ask. When agents can centralize and collaborate in the systems based around the customer ask, this eliminates unnecessary internal phone calls, chats, and follow ups.

4. Managing Your Entire Remote Customer Service Team 

For managers, staying informed is directly tied to having a real-time view of all activity across all teams, channels and conversations. Even more so when the customer service team is 100% remote. Managers can quickly identify issues and pivot on the fly – this way they are able to make adjustments that help improve operational efficiencies as well as the customer experience. 

Built in liveboards. Help supervisors keep a pulse on team activity, capacity, and effectiveness as if they were managing the customer service team in person.

Insights that give context. Allow managers to see what customers are talking about by viewing trending topics to identify opportunities to equip agents with a common response.

5. Get Remote Hires Started Quickly 

Being able to onboard agents quickly can be challenging in a remote setting. A technology platform that is intuitive, however, allows agents to quickly learn their job requirements. Get your remote hires started quickly with tools that are:

Built like modern messaging apps. When the tools have a familiar look and feel, using them is intuitive. This means agents can get trained and efficient in days with little to no training.

Perform all tasks from one place. Newly hired agents have many tasks they need to learn. If each task requires having to switch to a new system, it takes longer to onboard. These include things like completing orders and issuing refunds. To mitigate the time it takes to train agents, make sure all these tasks connect from one window for a more intuitive and seamless onboarding experience. 

We’re here to help 

Moving to a remote customer service team doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be done smoothly and with minimal impact to your operations. If done effectively, your customers should not notice nor experience a dramatic change in the quality of service.

Having a remote customer service team can be just as efficient as an onsite one, as long as you have the right tools and plan in place. If you’re looking for help getting started – we’re here to help, provide support and answer any questions. 

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