Is Remote Work Hurting or Helping Your Customer Service?

Many businesses have transitioned to be at least partially remote, allowing employees to work from home. There are many benefits to this arrangement for both employees and employers. 

For example, employees get to skip the commute while enjoying their home environment and coming up with a work strategy that works best for them. Meanwhile, employers get to hire a wider range of people while reducing office expenses.

But how does remote work influence your customers? Is working remotely beneficial for your customer service? Or is it doing more harm than good?

How Remote Work Could Impact Your Customer Service

Let’s take a look at some of the worst case scenarios for how remote work can impact your customer service.

  •       Unavailability. If your remote workers are distracted with other things in their home environment or if they take their flexible work schedule just a little bit too flexibly, customers may feel frustrated at increased wait times or may not be able to reach someone at all. Customers who are forced to wait, and those who don’t receive responses to their questions, tend to be less satisfied with their experiences.
  •       Inconsistency. Distributed teams can also be inconsistent. If you don’t have clear direction and a management style that supports your employees, or if you don’t have a consistent brand culture at the center of your workplace, customer service is going to be scattered at best. This can lead to a wide range of different customer experiences and overall, a poorer impression of your brand.
  •       Communication failures. There are many ways that communication can fail when working remotely. Employees with shoddy internet connections, unreliable audio over phone calls, and other technological issues we will not be able to provide the degree of service required of them. No system is perfect, and there’s always going to be a chance of a dropped call or a lost connection, but if your customer service is wracked with communication failures, it’s going to leave a bad impression.
  •       Poor morale. Customer service is highly dependent on the morale of your customer service employees. If your employees aren’t happy, they’re not going to do a good job and they’re not going to care about your customers. Remote workers who don’t enjoy their conditions or who don’t have the tools to succeed will be unable to provide customers with an adequate experience.

Key Tips for Success

So what can you do to succeed here?

  •       Build and maintain a strong company culture. For starters, it’s easy for your culture to dissolve when you start working remotely. If you want everyone to share the same goals in the same overall corporate perspective, you need to build and maintain a strong company culture, even when distributed. Clarify your company values and reinforce them regularly.
  •       Provide employees with the resources they need to succeed. Give employees everything they need to succeed. Help them secure a reliable internet connection and give them the devices and the software they need to give customers a great experience. Test and update this equipment on a regular basis to make sure it’s still working as expected.
  •       Provide employees with thorough education and training. Next, make sure that your employees know what to do. It’s important to educate and train them as thoroughly as possible to proactively guard against inconsistent attitudes and lack of knowledge.
  •       Empower employees to collaborate and support each other. Customer service is best executed as a team. Customer service departments are much more successful when their employees work together to solve problems and support each other. Give them the tools and the encouragement they need to collaborate effectively.
  •       Make working from home fit your strategy. Remote work isn’t a hindrance for customer service by default; but you need to take advantage of it deliberately if you want to benefit from it. For example, you can connect customers to an agent who is geographically close to them for a better connection and for better brand relationships.
  •       Provide alternative modes of customer service and support. Give your customers many different channels they can utilize to get answers and support (such as phone calls, emails, and social media). It can help them feel empowered and get faster answers to their questions.
  •       Ask employees for feedback. Finally, ask your employees for feedback regularly. If employees have consistent complaints or grievances, take those comments seriously and do your best to address them.

In the right context, remote work can be beneficial for your customer service strategy. Happier employees with a wider distribution can provide better communication and more consistent experiences for your audience. 

Don’t assume this is going to be the case; you have to work actively if you want to avoid the pitfalls of remote work for customer service.

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