Working remotely offers businesses and employees a number of benefits. First and foremost, let's talk commuting. Research by the U.S. Census Bureau shows people in full-time roles typically spend more than 200 hours traveling to and from their jobs each year. That can't sound appealing to anyone.
But working from home means no more long car or train rides to the office and back each day. And then there’s the overheads companies can reduce by hiring remote employees, while the workers themselves ultimately spend less on gas/travel fares and related costs (lunch, coffee, formal clothes, etc.).
It’s no wonder two-thirds of the global workforce now do their job away from the office at least once per week, including customer service agents.
But one possible risk of using a remote team is a lack of unity and standardization. You have to make sure you create learning programs for remote workers just as you would for an in-house team. Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be.
Let’s take a closer look at why this is so important and what you can do to create a powerhouse workforce no matter how many miles might separate your employees.
Establishing a Brand Identity and Company Culture
The concept of a company culture has become increasingly prominent around the world. Businesses in diverse industries want to make their working environment, processes and brand identity unique.
This offers a number of benefits. According to a survey, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees cite a distinctive culture as being vital for a company’s success. Having a strategy that’s defined clearly for all workers to understand and work is viewed as a major aspect in creating a positive culture.
Your remote customer service team should be familiar with your business’ core goals and values to make sure they represent it to the best of their abilities. Interactions should follow a defined structure, incorporate a specific tone and leave customers without doubt which brand they’ve engaged with.
Without a clear company culture, agents working from home could end up delivering contrasting consumer experiences. And that would lead to a lack of consistency and cohesiveness.
Customers want to know exactly what level of support and assistance they’ll receive when they reach out to your service team, whether that’s by phone, live chat, email or social media.
Create a learning program covering the business’ history, its mission, its approach to customer service and working routines. Help immerse agents in your culture and ensure they feel they’re part of the team.
Educating Remote Workers on Company Software
Online productivity, project management, and communication tools all enable companies to build a team of remote customer service agents without letting a tiny thing like distance stand in the way.
Any agents you hire to work from home will need training in the software they’re expected to use every day — but it has to be extensive. While some employees may be capable of learning on the job and picking things up over time, this can lead to unnecessary mistakes or delays.
That’s why it’s crucial to create a learning program based around your software, tailored to different roles and responsibilities.
Catering to different remote workers’ needs
Customer service agents may operate in different teams, focused on resolving certain types of problems (technical, payments, account management, cancellations etc.).
And, as a result, some agents will have to use specific features or tools that others won’t. There’s no sense in wasting time educating staff on parts of the software they’ll never have to handle. This could only cause confusion and overwhelm them with needless information.
Make sure you have multiple learning programs focusing on customer service software, tailored to suit agents based on their respective duties. Update these to reflect any changes you may make to your software, no matter how minor they may be. Agents should have access to these at all times in case they need a brief refresher to drive improvement.
If collaboration is a big part of your customer service processes, learning programs have to explore this too. Show agents how to work together on documents, how to share ideas and encourage each other.
A community wall is a fantastic element in any team-based software: employees can interact with each other and bond in a social space while they work, just as they would if they shared a brick-and-mortar office.
Performance Reviews and Continuous Learning Programs
Never make the mistake of assuming a single learning course is enough for remote workers. Just because you show them a two-hour video on dealing with customers or a document on using a tool doesn’t mean they won’t need further training in the future.
You have to keep track of your customer service agents’ performance and monitor their growth, to identify which areas of their work require a little closer attention. You might have one employee who keeps taking too long to close interactions or another lacking the technical knowledge to record data properly, leading to oversights or mistakes.
Whatever the issue, evaluating agents’ performance through cutting-edge quality assurance software makes training easy for call centers and customer service departments of all sizes.
Tracking learning and growth
Managers, team leaders, quality assurance analysts and remote agents can all collaborate on building learning programs focusing on different workers’ personal needs.
The best QA software makes distributing and accessing learning programs for remote customer service agents simple. They can watch videos, read files and take quizzes (to test their knowledge) from their dashboard at any time. You’ll be able to track their learning development and manage their training too, no matter where in the world they’re based.
Take the time to discuss learning programs with agents too. Invite them to share feedback about the standard of education available to them, and establish an open-door policy — make them, and their ideas, welcome at all times. The better you know your remote customer service team, the more effectively you can manage it.
Learning programs for remote customer service teams have the power to build a market-leading workforce that’s cohesive, efficient and committed to delivering the best customer experience with every interaction.
Aim to create learning programs tailored to help each agent achieve their potential. Don’t just settle for cookie-cutter training with a wide scope, as this might not give your customer service team the inspiration you expect. Consider what information they need to do the best job they can, drawing on performance data, employee input, and customer feedback.
And keep all learning continuous; your customer service strategy should be fluid and adaptive to changing trends or discoveries. Update your training resources whenever necessary to avoid wasted time or errors.
What techniques do you utilize when creating learning programs for your remote customer service team? How do you manage to maintain a close-knit workforce with hundreds or thousands of miles between them? Let us know in the comments!