Over the last two years, we’ve seen a rapid increase in remote work and expectations for work-from-home options. In 2024 it’s clear a hybrid setup is most favorable for workers across many industries. Contact centers have been no exception. Managers have had to rethink how to deliver the same, if not a higher, level of customer service and how to overcome the challenges of having a remote customer service team.
While it is undeniable that a major benefit of remote work to employees is flexibility in schedule, there are certain challenges that also come along with it. Adjusting to working in one’s living space can be difficult.
According to LiveVox’s 2nd edition Work From Home report, 75% of respondents saw an increase in contact volumes on all channels. So, the workload has gone up by a noticeable amount. This puts pressure on managers to ensure that agents are unencumbered in their work and that they are meeting expectations.
If you are looking to increase productivity among your remote customer service teams then you need to look towards making sure your agents have the right tools and training. The agent experience is key to delivering better customer service, which is bound to make customers more satisfied. Poor customer service is bad for business and can cost a company millions.
These are some remote customer service must-haves that will empower agents to give better customer service.
Knowledge bases keep everyone in the loop
Obviously, when workers are working remotely they do not have the same immediate access to a higher-up as they would in a physical office. So if there is a question that they do not have the answer to, then this can lead to a time delay in getting an answer to a customer. Customers will only wait so long before giving up on receiving a response.
A 2017 survey found that the customer experience is mainly shaped by agents providing accurate service and information (66 percent of respondents) and making the transactions effortless (62 percent of respondents). A knowledge base is a great way to avoid agents having any issues.
A knowledge base is a system that digitally stores information about a company, such as a product, service, department, or topic. It can also range in holding types of content, like FAQs, manuals, and troubleshooting guides.
There are multiple benefits to having a knowledge base that agents can look at if they need to. They can help agents give more consistent service, have higher resolution rates, and cut down on costs to train people.
Utilize cloud-based customer management software
Cloud-based project management software are excellent collaborative tools that give all workers access to projects and assignments that they can get to from any location. Eliminate the never-ending email threads and inefficient task assignment systems that just hinder productivity.
With this software, you can easily assign a worker a project or a task and can better organize the work. Workers can also work together on something in real-time or make notes for others to view, as multiple users can access a project or document at a time and everything automatically saves to the cloud. This also allows another person to help out when someone is out sick, or on vacation, or may have left the company with unfinished work that still needs to be completed.
There are multiple options out there and most are free to use. Microsoft Teams has become quite popular during the course of the pandemic and other software like Slack and Asana are widely used.
Conversational IVR, video and webchat are table stakes
Having time to socialize with coworkers and meet to discuss what is going on with work is just as important as ever, even if people are not physically in the office.
Conversational IVR is becoming increasingly useful in this setting. By also using teleconferencing software programs, like Zoom and Google Hangouts, workplaces can easily connect people. This technology can be used for collaborative work, webinars, remote training, and much more. As of 2021, Zoom is seeing an average of 300 million daily meeting participants.
Webchat also allows remote agents to communicate in real-time. It is an online chat platform that is meant to be quick and easily accessible to anyone and only requires a web browser, instead of needing to download an application.
Remote coaching and elearning should be a priority investment
Investing in employees can lead to lower turnover rates and more efficiency in remote workers. By providing proper training and coaching, remote agents can feel more confident in the information they have and the level of customer service they can provide.
Going back to the LiveVox Work From Home Report, 38% of managers who implemented some form of eLearning reported a lower rate of difficulty when managing agent productivity. These training’s included agent scripting, internal chat, screen recording, knowledge base articles, agent scorecards, and call recording and calibration.
ELearning platforms can provide agents with quick lessons and allow them to practice their customer service through mock tickets, emails, chats, and phone calls so they are better prepared when they start to interact with real customers. This also allows you to gauge how well an agent will perform before they begin talking to customers so any issues can be corrected beforehand and reduce mistakes.
Performance monitoring tools are the remote manager’s best friend
Implementing KPIs (key performance indicators) is a key way of setting goals and monitoring the progression of those goals. The LiveVox 2021 Work From Home report found that 31% of managers added more KPI tracking and performance capabilities during the past year. By monitoring agents’ progress and productivity levels, especially in a remote setting, you can decide how to act accordingly to better motivate your staff.
First contact resolution rate, CSAT (customer satisfaction Index), average response time, cost per conversion, customer effect scores, and NPS (net promoter score) are just some of the different methods that managers can use to measure productivity.
By setting goals and checking on progress, workers can also be rewarded for their efforts and potentially move up in their company. There are plenty of agents out there who want to make a career path and be promoted and they should have that chance if at all possible.
Overall, giving workers the opportunity to work remotely can be great for companies in terms of productivity and turnover rates. Agents working for contact centers can achieve great success if they receive the proper support and training from managers. Providing the correct tools to remote customer service agents is just the first step to building the foundation for creating a team that is fully prepared to do their jobs with the highest standards.