Remote work is anything but a novel concept. Businesses have been steadily moving toward a work from home model for years now. With the ever-shifting nature of our world right now, where remote work has accelerated during March and April of 2020, it will only become a more prevalent transition to keep remote teams socially close.
According to the National Association of Call Centers, more than half of the contact centers in the United States today (53 percent) have some percentage of their agent population functioning from a home office.
That number was before COVID-19 hit the globe. Now it's imperative for contact centers to continue to operate and operate remotely. This is especially true in industries like healthcare, finance, insurance, food delivery, and other essential businesses.
And with this need for customer service in the pandemic, companies are hiring agents to work from home like Alorica. A host of companies are looking to hire remote agents, managers, and analysts. The website assembled.com has a huge list of companies looking to hire.
Certainly, managers have to manage the employees who are scattered all over, whether that is in their homes locally, all over the U.S. or even the globe. It’s not easy.
Or is it?
When it comes to managing, constant communication and keeping tabs is vital.
Here are some key how-to’s on managing remote teams and keeping them socially close in the process.
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Make Being Remote Local
Working remotely and feeling localized go hand-in-hand. Wait, what? That's right.
Having an application that sets up a community wall can keep agents in touch with managers as well as each other to share ideas, discuss situations, collaborate, and even share polls. In other words, they communicate consistently with one another – and it’s arguably not much different than they would in a brick and mortar building.
A company can also set up badges to honor and reward top performing agents as a way to gain recognition, keeping them motivated even from afar.
Through a community wall, managers can certainly keep in touch on a regular basis with their team.
Managers can also talk to team members through a group or bullhorn feature to make announcements. Even set up a system where team members can reply and share their thoughts.
This isn’t a game. Well, maybe it is. Make working from home a fun competition with clear goals for agents to strive for.
A scorecard application is one of the simplest quality assurance evaluation methods. Scorecards allow team leaders to track agents’ performance based on valued metrics, set up by managers.
Scorecards provide breakdowns of each interaction and build quality assurance. Scorecards also allow managers to identify agents who may need further training.
Use Regular Evaluations
Companies may not embrace remote customer service since they feel there isn’t a way to keep track of their team’s progress or even if the team is working at all.
An evaluation application can keep managers in-the-know when it comes to the quality of their agents.
Evaluation reports can help Quality Analysts keep track of agent-customer interactions and the number of interactions the agents have during a day. Evaluations can also lead to managers recognizing a potential area of improvement for an agent who is underperforming.
Using an evaluation application can help managers put trust in their teams.
Coaching is Key
Give your remote team real-time feedback and allow them to discuss evaluation results with our built-in collaboration messaging.
Giving feedback to agents, especially those who need a boost in production, quality or motivation, is high on the list to ensure a balanced team. But simply going over what’s needed for improvement makes it difficult to document and keep organized, especially in a remote environment.
A coaching application is a great way to manage underperforming agents remotely with a tool that provides feedback on quality and performance issues. It can stress areas of improvement and be tailored to fit the specific area of business.
A free-form field can provide an area for team leaders to initiate a coaching session with an agent. Companies can also customize templates based on specific issues that arise frequently within the business.
Coaching sessions are a fantastic way to ensure you are getting the best from your agents and they will value the interaction with their team leaders.
This may be the hardest area of managing a team from various distances. But constant learning is needed as businesses change the structure, methods, and level of effort to evolve the skills of their agents.
A learning application allows businesses to create instructional lessons, sessions, and quizzes for the remote customer service team. A learning dashboard allows agents to keep track of how they are doing as students.
In the long run, agents will increase their knowledge and productivity to keep them motivated and in turn, lead to a better customer experience.
Give them (Virtual) Goodies
This is the fun part of managing remote customer service teams. Who doesn’t like being rewarded for their excellent performance?
Managers can set up incentive programs based on a points system that agents can use on products and items in a Karma Store. The points are designed by the managers to support quality and performance goals.
Award points are based on when triggers, or conditions, are met, or manually awarded to them through team leaders, managers, and even peer-to-peer by agents if desired.
There are plenty of ideas for keeping the remote team engaged and motivated by adding in incentives surrounded around teamwork, contests, raffles, or even play Survivor.
These methods will help managers stay in communication with their teams, keep them productive and motivated. It will make it easy to be at the forefront of remote customer service and will help boost agent retention.