Imagine having an issue with a product or service you’ve just purchased: you try to reach the brand online, you send emails, you try to call, and nobody gets back to you.
To be fair to businesses, customer service can be a challenge, and it’s even more true now, in a context where many teams, remote or otherwise are working remotely.
How do you build a rockstar customer support team? And how can teams deliver the best customer service possible while distributed all around the globe? Let’s see how!
Delivering Customer Service: The Basics
Customer service should be: quick, effective, and kind.
To assist your clients in the best possible way, you should listen to their problems or concern, provide a timely solution, and maintain anoverall enjoyable experience.
That’s only in the theory! Because from time to time, even the most experienced customer team may have troubles with difficult clients, major issues with the product or service delivered, and poor communication.
A 2018 NewVoiceMedia report revealed that poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year (yes, BILLION). A staggering 90% percent of customers who are dissatisfied with customer service will just drop the brand, according to TalkDesk.
Customer Service While Remote
I have been part of the Support Team at Timeneye since 2016.
Customer service is even more challenging if you have your customer agents stretched in different places and different time zones. Remote customer teams are nothing new, but now that more businesses are have switched to remote, many are considered the advantages of having a customer remote team or have switched already.
It can be difficult to provide timely support when displaced. In addition, many customer agents may work from home, which leads to several challenges of home working (poor internet connection, lack of support resources, dogs barking while your work…).
Still the customer will expect a timely assitance form you!
So how do you do it?
#1 Set Support Hours And Expectations
If you know you can reply to a customer within one business day, then do it.
But avoid promising fast support if you are unable to deliver it. Be open and transparent on how quickly you can respond. It’s better to admit to your client that you can only reply within one business day, than selling “Reply by one hour” and then have a client get frustrated because, after 4 hours, customer service has been silent.
Similarly, if you’re experiencing a surge in customer support requests or any issue that may be slowing down your assistance, make sure to let the clients know with a notification or a warning on your websites.
#2 Keep Support Documentation Ready For Your Agents
Remote team members that work from different places, covering different timezones may have trouble reaching out to each other, or to a supervisor. Asynchronous communication can work for remote teams in many ways. However, customer support sometimes has to be quick and timely.
To make sure you agents have all they need to perform their duties: keep all the support documentation available on the cloud, using services like Google Drive, or Onedrive, Dropbox, or any service accessible online.
This will include product guides, FAQs, tone and brand guidelines, as well as crisis management, safety, and accident recovering procedures.
#3 Organize And Prepare For Major Incidents
Anything that can go wrong will definitely go wrong.
You can keep your fingers crossed, say your prayers, and hope for the best. Or, you can prepare so that your team don’t find themselves unprepared in case of major incidents or issues.
So define immediately what will happen in case of an emergency, who will be in charge of what, and how the team is expected to respond on all the brand platforms.
#4 Do A Lot Of (Virtual) Training
Check in from time to time with your support agents. Make sure to regularly keep them updated on new launches, new updates, or any other piece of news about the brand that will be vital to carry out their support work.
Support agents, especially if they’re new to the job, should not be left alone to fend for themselves. Instead, setting check-ins and training sessions will help them improve the overall quality of the assistance they provide.
Of course, there are many customer support tools that will help you deliver fast, effective and smart support, like Intercom, Zendesk, and Freshdesk.
This type of software brings many advantages like having a unified place to store your messages, bots and automation features, as well as the possibilty to write and share guides. It archives all the tickets for each client and help you keep a trace and historic data of all the interactions during the support.
#6 If You Promise Live Chat Support, Be There
Speaking of live chat: there’s no denying that, nowadays, customers have learned to use regularly live chat widgets to contact brand support.
Live chat has become the leading digital contact method for online customers according to data by SuperOffice.
If you decide to offer real-time support, you have to make sure the agents can deliver the expected service. There’s nothing worse than opening a chat with a support service and then still have to wait in line.
#7 Keep Written Trace Of The Support Requests
The best thing about customer support software is that it creates an archive of all the support messages. It’s easier to see the history of a client support request or its status. It will be essential if your support team is remote because agents will need an easy-to-access archive to trace back all the support interactions.
This is also one of the reasons why I strongly advise against managing support requests via traditional email – can you imagine scouring through an inbox to recover *that* client message?
#8 Measure Productivity And Effectiveness
Teams cannot improve how they work if they don’t know if they’re doing a good job. This is true for customer support teams, too. And with a remote customer support team, it’ll be even more crucial to understand if you’re delivering what you’re promising: in a remote team, every process must run as a well-oiled machine.
A highly productive support team equates to happy customers. But it can be tricky to measure productivity: you cannot just count the number of support tickets solved and call it “productive”.
Instead, you can measure the quality of the work through customer satisfaction surveys, reply time, the number of touches on the same ticket by an engine, and generally how the team has been allocating their time in all the different phases of the support activity.
#9 Take An Honest Look At What Went Wrong
Even the best-olied machine can get jammed. If you experience a surge in customer complaints, if your support is being slammed online, or you flat-out lose clients, then you have to take a hard look at what may have caused the problem
Of course, there can be very difficult customers to deal with. But are you really sure that the customer is being difficult, or are you making it difficult for them to enjoy your product/service?
When you experience a support crisis, can you be honest about what happened?
What exactly caused the issue?
Was the issue your company’s fault (be honest)?
Was the agent given the correct information to pass on to the client on how to solve the problem?
Are there any voids or loopholes in your established customer management problems?
and so on.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to manage an effective customer support team while remote. All the time spent on training, researching the right tools, communication, and improving will equates to happy customers in the end.