There are several advantages of having a remote support team. You can offer 24/7 support with employees located across different time zones. You can also hire local talent for taking care of international customers, lower employee attrition by offering more flexibility in the job, and so on.
By Peter Banerjea
However, remote support teams also have challenges like quality, data security, effective communication, etc. which can impact your CSAT scores.
Here are five strategies for successfully managing a remote support team.
1. Use Agile Principles
Managing your customer support team with agile project management methodologies can play a major role in improving support quality levels
Apply the key principles of agile – customer centricity, flexibility, empowerment and continuous improvement. Empower support agents to make judgment calls during customer interactions. Have weekly scrum video calls to review key customer problems and explore how to handle them better next time. Follow the right support metrics such as resolution rate, average reply time, average handle time, etc.
Applying agile will also help your support team to co-ordinate better with product teams to provide insights about customer demands – thereby facilitating product innovation.
2. Invest in Communication
To implement agile principles in your remote team, your internal team communication should be extremely efficient. However, communication is usually the biggest challenge for remote teams. That’s why you should take active measures to make sure that communication happens efficiently.
Your support team leaders should be easily accessible to their teams. Managers should encourage their people to ask questions about any doubts they have on how to handle different customer challenges – especially the new employees. They should hold several group video calls a week to swap notes. You could also send your support team managers to communications skills training programs.
3. Pay Attention to Data Security
There have been several huge incidents of customer data breaches over the past year. Data leaks are always a common concern whenever any company has a remote support team. Here are three broad things you can do to prevent data leaks.
Firstly, employ employee monitoring tools that automatically track employees’ computer activity. This acts as a serious deterrent to committing any unscrupulous acts.
Secondly, use software that prevents unnecessary access to customers’ information. For example, avoid using screensharing with customers where your support agents can see everything on the customer’s screen. Instead, use a tool like Talkative for cobrowsing, which only displays the relevant window or app to the support team member. If he can’t see anything else on the customer’s screen, there is no opportunity for misuse of confidential data.
Finally, hire the right people. If data security is really important to you, employ the services of a background checking company to create a detailed profile of every candidate you plan to hire.
4. Find the Right People
Working from home is subject to numerous distractions and everyone does not have the self-discipline to operate independently without supervision. Therefore, it’s best to recruit people who have previously worked in a remote support team. If you can’t find such candidates, hire people with a history of taking initiative and are keen to take on new challenges.
Many companies hire freelancers for remote support team roles. That allows them to quickly scale up their support functions for product launches, seasonal business cycles or while growing fast.
However, a lot can go wrong while hiring freelancers and finding reliable and consistent performers can be time-consuming. A quick way to hire high-performers is to use sites like Freelancemyway, which only accept freelancers on their panel after taking them through an extensive application process.
5. Invest in Knowledge
Support teams in a physical office have lots of opportunities to share their experiences with customers in informal discussions. These informal conversations play a valuable role in improving people’s knowledge.
These informal interactions are too infrequent in a remote team to be effective. So how else can you help your people expand their knowledge base?
Start by maintaining a library of important customer resolution case studies. Your remote support team members should be able to access it easily from a cloud drive or a tool such as Teamvibe.
However, the best customer support reps are those who can remember their past experiences and connect the dots between an earlier problem and a current one – and find a solution quickly. Therefore, encourage your team members to practice habits and techniques that help them to remember things better such as exercising, practicing mnemonics and so on. Something as simple as a better memory can go a long way in providing far better customer service!
These few actions can play a substantial role in building a high-performing support team that keeps your customers happy and minimizes churn.
Peter Banerjea is Co-Founder of SuccessIsWhat, a leadership blog and SuccessIsWhat Marketing, a content marketing agency for startups and small businesses. He was previously the founder of a leadership training firm. His work has also appeared in Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Inc, Lifehacker, and several other top blogs. You can follow him on Twitter @StartupVoyager.