A strong customer support team is integral to the success of any business. But a strong team doesn’t need to be in the same office to ensure success. The rise of remote work has proven that employees can be as, or more, efficient in their work outside of the office.
But even with a dispersed team, managers and supervisors can ensure that agents are providing the expected high-quality support to maintain positive customer experiences. Here are five tips to manage your remote customer support agents.
1. Daily Check-Ins
A daily one-on-one might seem like a burden, but checking in with agents will help keep an open communication line. Consistent communication can help remote agents stay focused, have a clear understanding of their tasks, and help them feel connected to the bigger team.
These check-ins can include company updates, performance feedback, or queue assignment information. It also gives agents a set time to present any questions, comments, or concerns.
Make sure that your daily check-ins are through video so that there is some face-to-face communication. If there aren’t any immediate concerns, change the meeting time to add some variety.
2. Use the Best Tools and Platform
Most remote agents enjoy a portable workstation. This means that their daily work will be completed on a laptop and connect through WiFi or a data connection. Managers and supervisors should ensure that agents have the best tools to communicate, collaborate, and complete tasks as necessary.
The Google Docs suite, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and more, are perfect for office work needed and the built-in collaboration features make it easy to share with others.
Note-taking tools like Evernote, Google Keep, or Microsoft OneNote, are great for keeping track of tasks and they can also be shared with others. If you need project management tools, Trello, Asana, and Jira, can keep people on task with defined deadlines.
There are so many real-time communication tools like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and Skype. You can even video chat through other communication apps like iMessage, WhatsApp Messenger video calling, or other popular messaging apps with video support.
The most important thing is providing agents with a support platform that they don’t need to manage themselves. Through cloud-native customer support technologies like Contact-Center-as-a-Service platforms, otherwise known as CCaaS, agents only need a stable internet connection and a web browser tab to access necessary support tools. With all tech maintenance handled by the CCasS company, agents can focus on helping the customer instead of managing the platform.
3. Analyze Data Reports to Optimize Agent Scheduling
Your customer support platform should be providing actionable data and supplying detailed reports. This information helps create your support strategy and make any necessary adjustments.
Remote agents shouldn’t be thrown in to fill cracks, but strategically placed where they will have the most impact. React according to the data instead of going solely on gut feelings or an outlier trend that you think will happen again.
Are there more voice calls coming in the morning and then it transitions to a majority of in-app communication? The best strategy might be to assign agents who excel at voice calls during these bulk times and then add in less experienced agents near the end to gain useful experience. Utilize data reports to intelligently schedule agents and still provide learning opportunities to agents.
4. Optimize Agent Assignments in General and Specialized Queues
As support teams gain more experience and individuals begin showing potential for promotion, managers should be helping these agents move forward in their careers. Specialized agents are experts about a product or service and can help resolve complex customer issues.
By using reports from your customer support platform, you should see detailed information about what kinds of issues are incoming and the times of the day. Schedule agents accordingly and adjust queues so that any highly urgent issues are sent directly to specialized agents during peak times.
Let other agents address issues as they come in through general support queues. As you review agent reports, you may begin to see other agents who would be good for specialized product queues.
5. Focus on Quality Support Instead of Quantity
Even though your support organization may have service level agreements (SLA), only focusing on meeting those numbers will negatively affect the quality of support and agent efficiency. Focusing on the number of calls completed instead of customer satisfaction will lead to negative customer feedback.
When you improve support quality, systems will lead customers to the right solution faster. Whether that is a self-service option like Knowledge Base or FAQ, intelligent routing rules that understand issue urgency, or specialized agents who triage the biggest problems, as support uses tools and platforms that ensure customers are managed intelligently, solutions are found in a shorter amount of time.
Creating the right customer experience will require data, testing, and feedback, but all that groundwork will produce a highly effective support experience leading to fast resolutions and high customer satisfaction.
Engage and Enable Team Success
Remote support agents can be as productive as in-house agents. As a manager, building and fostering open communication will help remote agents feel included. Also giving them the same tools and training and enabling career advancement will give your agents more options inside your company even though they’re not working locally.
Your support team is the frontline for promoting a positive customer experience. Creating a positive support agent experience is the first step.