Embracing Customer Service in the Remote Age
Customer service remote workers come with their own set of challenges. Just as ecosystems in nature are complex, fragile webs of interdependence, so too are workplace dynamics. Companies often fail to account for the importance of in-person information free-flow,group knowledge, and mutual trust. Some businesses have attempted and then reversed their work from home programs after they did not turn out well.
Should customer service departments and organizations then worry about the continous implementation of work-from-home programes? Not really. There are difficult situations, however there are ways around them, and to a notable gain.
Workers increasingly opt for remote working and in lots of cases, it can reduce expenses and result in more productivity. A study shows that 77% employees say that they are more productive due to the fact they took shorter breaks and used much less sick leave. 88% of HR managers claim that subordinates have left their jobs due to a loss of teleworking flexibility.
Millennials, who choose remote work, will make up 75% of the stuff by the end of 2020. With concerted effort, customer service departments can turn these situations into a big opportunity.
Any company – irrespective of how small – can setup remotely. Chances are that your team is already using a number of the same tools and platforms that remote working organizations use each day – like Slack for instance.
The key to this achievement is planning effectively. Some studies have proven that employees who work remotely 100% of the time are more productive. However they’re more susceptible to loneliness and problems with low engagement.
Challenges That Come With Working Remotely in Customer Service
Customer service representatives are still facing many challenges as the pandemic is not yet over. There are a few main challenges that reps have noticed when it comes to requests, customer attitudes and their home office setup. Some of the challenges include:
Mental and physical distractions
The pandemic has been mentally distracting for many. Peoples are suffocating from the uncertainty, cabin fever and fear.
Also, over the past few months there has been a change in communication amoung your team. Slack, instant messaging and video calls replaced face to face interactions. When you add in stay chat, phone calls and emails from customers, it makes it even more hectic.
To add to the mental distractions there are also physical distructions. Some customer service representatives that are working from home may face other challenges. The challenges they face include parent hood, care giving and many other responsibilities that come with adulthood or co-habiting with others.
Despite these challenges customer service representatives have to find a way to work around these issues and that means they require understanding and patience from supervisors and managers.
Lack of motivation and positivity
Keeping a great mindset toward clients can be tough if your mental health is suffering. It might also additionally feel unauthentic and forced.
Personal issues also can cloud your judgement at times, and those mood swings can mirror in your responses. For example, you can feel much less empathetic towards “sob stories.” If you have to take a call after disciplining your child or getting into an arguement with a spouse, your anger might also additionally be apparent in the tone of your voice.
You may additionally have trouble getting right the work-life balance. When your colleagues aren’t physically around, you may feel like everything depends soley on you. Some situations may also require you to stay online longer.
Dealing with stressed customers
Customers have many reasons to be on edge these days, this means that issues can amplify quickly. It’s up to you to maintain the peace and keep composure whilst your customer is under stress or being uncooperative, which may be tough.
The pandemic has brought about a lot of uncertainity. Customer service can become more complex as we head into the holiday season. Both customer service representatives and customer are bound to be more anxious. This will require frontline leaders to excersise great levels of emotional intelligence in order for agents to be able to handle their emotions too.
The pandemic has also caused a spike in support requests. Most services have shifted to online platforms. While this may seem like a convinient option, there is also a downside to it. Take for instance, there is a whole demographic of elderly people who are not tech savvy.
This means that there is a flood of phone calls, emails and texts from people who are just trying to figure out how they can cope with accessing your services online. There are many instances of how a remote setup can result in more workload.
Another example is that people normaly have questions about new experiences with a service or product. Now that we are going towards the holiday season, people can get a little bit anxious about experiencing the holidays differently.That means they have several question on how they can best leverage your service or product to get the most out of it.
Tips on How to Cope in The Remote Age in Customer Service
Even though there are challenges that come with managing a remote team, there are several things you can do as a manager or supervisor to make sure that your team is prepared to deal with obstacles. Whether these obstacles are work related or personal, your team members should have the right mindset to tackle both as they affect each other.
Make team building a priority
A survey released that, 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness. There are many factors involved when it comes to loneliness. Some people find their workplace as a safe haven and some feel more productive around co workers, while some individuals only get the chance to socially interact at work. This means working from home can be a challenge for some people who stand to benefit more than just a living from their jobs. As a team manager, you need to make ensure that your team gets the oppotunity to interact with each other and this can be accomplished through virtual team building.
Create a knowledge base for information
Customer service is all about information. 99% of customers say that getting a satisfactory response or talking to someone knowledgeable is essential to get a great customer experience. When customers call, they are looking for solutions and the last thing that they want to hear is ‘We are working on it’. Customer service representatives should be knowlegeable and they should understand your products or services as much as they can. It is therefore important to keep an information base where they can learn about changes or upgrades to a product or service.
Leverage customer service tools
You need to find tools that work best for your team. Do not be afraid to try out new tools or cancel tools that are not working effectively for team collaboration. Investing in a software can be pricey, however, most software vendors allow you to try their tool with a 30 day or 60 day money back guarantee. Some even allow you to try the tool for free for a number of dayss. You can use this to your advatage to findout what works best for you. Find out which tools help your team increase productivity and which tools improve colaboration. It is also wise to get input from your team on which tools are the most convenient to use.
Customer Service Requires a Positive Attitude
Managing a remote team can be very difficult. Your attitude as a team manager can be the difference between a successful team and an unsuccessful one. Igniting a CX Celebration all year requires a positive attitude. That does not mean that there won’t be bad days. While it is healthy to acknowledge what you maybe feeling at any given time when there are challenges. It is more important to be able to maintain a positive mindset through it all. Teams with positive managers always perform better.
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Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.