This week we feature an article by Alexa Lemzy, a Customer Support and Content Manager at TextMagic, a cost-effective, efficient, and secure way to communicate. She shares 5 strategies to build a happy and high-performing remote customer service team. Remote working has many benefits for customer service teams but also comes with some challenges. Managing your […]
This week we feature an article by Alexa Lemzy, a Customer Support and Content Manager at TextMagic, a cost-effective, efficient, and secure way to communicate. She shares 5 strategies to build a happy and high-performing remote customer service team.
Remote working has many benefits for customer service teams but also comes with some challenges. Managing your customer service team in a way that enables employees to focus on their tasks, work effectively with their colleagues and maintain a healthy work-life balance requires the right tools and approach.
These five strategies will help your team thrive in a remote working environment:
Communication is a key to productivity in any team, and especially a remote one. It also has an important role to play in the morale and motivation of team members. In fact, getting team communication right could halve your employee turnover rate. The wrong approach to communicating with your team could become a distraction or source of unnecessary stress, while a lack of it can lead to less collaboration, more mistakes on tasks, and a sense of isolation for remote employees.
Because of these issues, it is vital to use the right contact method and tools for each situation:
Voice and Video Calls
Team Apps and IM
Instant messaging is an invaluable collaboration tool for remote teams, but it can also be a distraction. Participating in constant discussions via messaging apps will take attention away from team members’ tasks, reducing their productivity.
Employees with solo deep work to complete need scheduled time where they can go offline without responding to non-urgent messages. Most team apps offer a Do Not Disturb profile status team members can use when they need to focus. Using out-of-hours automated responses can help communicate when other team members should expect a response from an offline member.
The wrong approach to messaging can take focus away from work, but it can also impact a remote worker’s home life. Sign out of work apps and disable non-urgent email notifications at the end of the day. It is hard to stop thinking about work when your devices are still buzzing with messages and updates from colleagues and too easy to feel expected to respond immediately to every alert.
The value of uninterrupted deep work does not mean there is no place for informal conversation in a remote team, however. Relationship-building between team members through casual chatter is just as important in a remote team as in an in-office team.
This is especially true for customer service teams. Having a rapport with colleagues doesn’t just make for a more enjoyable team environment, it also makes it easier for employees to collaborate and utilize each other’s skills when tackling a customer’s issue. Furthermore, every customer service team experiences some amount of difficult calls that can be stressful, and a little support and camaraderie from colleagues can go a long way to helping an employee put it behind them.
Even though your team works from home, they still need to be able to ‘go home’ at the end of the day. Separating work from home life is needed for employees to focus on their tasks during the day and relax in their free time.
Achieving this is partly a matter of communication, ensuring that team members aren’t constantly plugged into work messages, but the physical environment is also an important consideration.
Encourage employees to create an office area that is separated from the rest of their homes. A separate office area doesn’t just benefit productivity but also enables team members to return to their home environment when they are done for the day, helping them shift out of work mode.
While it is not always possible to dedicate an entire room to office space, decorations such as screens and plants can serve as visual and sound barriers to divide a work area from the rest of the house, minimizing external distractions.
One of the reasons separating work from home is so important is overworking. Overworking is a common problem reported by remote workers, and it’s also a big productivity killer. It also contributes to stress and impacts quality of life by preventing team members from fully relaxing and enjoying their free time.
It is easy for remote employees to skip breaks or continue working long after their scheduled hours to complete their tasks, and also easier for this behavior to go unnoticed than in a physical office. Many remote teams use time tracking apps to help employees monitor their hours and remind them to take regular breaks.
Since flexible work routines are a major bonus for remote workers, these tools are best used to enable employees to manage their own time better rather than enforce a strict schedule. Trusting employees to manage their time instead of using these tools to check up on them is an important part of building a great remote customer service team.
Stress, demotivation, and a decline in productivity are common pitfalls for teams unprepared for remote working. However, with the right management, remote workers report higher productivity and better work/life balance on average than their in-office counterparts. These strategies are a strong foundation to build the right approach for your team.
Alexa Lemzy is the Customer Support & Content Manager of TextMagic. She is interested in customer success, growth, marketing, technology, and travel.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: The Culture Challenge: How Leadership Can Develop The I’ll Be Back Culture
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