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5 Tips for Managing Remote Customer Service Agents

by UJET Team

A strong customer support team is integral to the success of any business. But a strong team doesn’t need to be in the same office to ensure success. The rise of remote work has proven that customer service agents can be as, or more, efficient in their work outside of the office.

But even with a dispersed team, managers and supervisors can ensure that agents are providing the expected high-quality support to maintain positive customer experiences. In this post we’ll share five tips to better manage your remote customer service agents.

Strategies for mentoring remote customer service agents

1. Prioritize daily check-ins

A daily one-on-one might seem unnecessary, but checking in with agents frequently will help keep an open communication line. Consistent communication can help remote agents stay focused, have a clear understanding of their tasks, and help them feel connected to the bigger team.

These check-ins can include company updates, performance feedback, or queue assignment information. It also gives customer service agents a set time to present any questions, comments, or concerns.

Make sure that your check-ins are through video so that there is some face-to-face communication. If there aren’t any immediate concerns, consider this an opportunity to get to know your agents on a personal level.

2. Invest in the best customer service software

Most remote agents enjoy a portable workstation. This means that their daily work will be completed on a laptop that connects to your organization via WiFi or a VPN. Managers and supervisors should ensure that agents have the best tools to communicate, collaborate, and complete tasks as necessary.

The Google Docs suite, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and more, are perfect for office work needed and the built-in collaboration features make it easy to share with others.

Note-taking tools like Evernote, Google Keep, or Microsoft OneNote, are great for keeping track of tasks and they can also be shared with others. If you need project management tools, Trello, Asana, and Jira, can keep people on task with defined deadlines.

There are so many real-time communication tools like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and Skype. You can even video chat through other communication apps like iMessage, WhatsApp Messenger video calling, or other popular messaging apps with video support.

The most important thing is providing agents with a support platform that they don’t need to manage themselves. Through cloud-native customer support technologies like Contact-Center-as-a-Service platforms, otherwise known as CCaaS, agents only need a stable internet connection and a web browser tab to access necessary support tools. With all tech maintenance handled by the CCaaS company, agents can focus on helping the customer instead of managing the platform.

3. Analyze performance reports to optimize staffing

Your customer support platform should be providing actionable performance data and supplying detailed reports. This information helps create your support strategy and make any necessary adjustments.

Remote agents shouldn’t be thrown in to fill cracks, but strategically placed where they will have the most impact. React according to the data instead of going solely on gut feelings or an outlier trend that you think will happen again.

Are there more voice calls coming in the morning and then it transitions to a majority of in-app communication? The best strategy might be to assign agents who excel at voice calls during these bulk times and then add in less experienced agents near the end to gain useful experience. Utilize workforce management software to intelligently schedule agents and still provide learning opportunities for agents.

4. Use individual skills to optimize queue assignments 

As support teams gain more experience and individuals begin showing potential for promotion, managers should be helping these agents move forward in their careers. Specialized agents are experts about a product or service and can help resolve complex customer issues.

By using reports from your customer support platform, you should see detailed information about what kinds of issues are incoming and the times of the day. Schedule customer service agents accordingly and adjust queues so that any highly urgent issues are sent directly to specialized agents during peak times.

Let other agents address issues as they come in through general support queues. As you review agent reports, you may begin to identify additional agents who would be good for specialized product queues.

5. Focus on support quality over quantity

Even though your support organization may have service level agreements (SLA), only focusing on meeting those numbers will negatively affect the quality of support and agent efficiency. Focusing on the number of calls completed instead of customer satisfaction will lead to negative customer feedback.

When you improve support quality, systems will lead customers to the right solution faster. Whether that is a self-service option like Knowledge Base or FAQ, intelligent routing rules that understand issue urgency, or specialized agents who triage the biggest problems, as support uses tools and platforms that ensure customers are managed intelligently, solutions are found in a shorter amount of time.

Creating the right customer experience will require data, testing, and feedback, but all that groundwork will produce a highly effective support experience leading to fast resolutions and high customer satisfaction.

Enable customer service agents to do their best work 

Remote customer service agents can be as productive as in-house agents. As a manager, building and fostering open communication, as well as equipping agents with the tools and training they need to advance their careers, will help reduce attrition and increase employee satisfaction.  

Your support team is the frontline for promoting a positive customer experience. Creating a positive atmosphere for customer service agents is the first step toward providing great customer service.