The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all businesses to go remote or shift to work from home. It has become the new normal for everyone irrespective of the team or designation.
Customer support is the base of any business and customer support representatives play a vital role in the smooth running of a business.
Having spent the workdays in an office in close proximity to their team and boss, the real challenge lies in making communication easy and effortless with the remote work environment. What is more challenging is adapting to remote support when your workplace is not used to or familiar with remote working.
Working from home could easily turn into a nightmare if the person does not have the right personality, mind-set, or working environment.
Be it responding to a global pandemic or by choice, businesses across the globe have been very quick to adapt to the flexible remote working policies. Truth be told, there will be a few struggles your agents might face especially when you suddenly shift to remote customer support overnight.
In this article, we‘ll explore the pillars and tips for the effective remote working of customer support reps and agents.
Pillars for effective remote support
With news ways of support, it is also important that we adopt new KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure and scale our performance.
Foundation: Build an effective and seamless remote support network.
Planning: Schedule your everyday tasks and fix goals.
Communication: Communicate effectively between your teams and with your customers.
Learning: Ability to quickly learn and adapt to new ways of working.
Visibility: Gain a better understanding and visibility of your customer and team activities.
Tips to make WFH easier for customer support representatives
1. Create an effective work-from-home setup
While this is common to everyone working from home, setting up a dedicated workspace at home will help you stay focused on your daily task.
Set up a desk, your computer or laptop, and all your work supplies in a single space. Work in your dedicated workspace and make sure it is calm so as to focus on your work.
2. Streamline your support process with the right software
As you are getting prepared to work from home, make sure all your resources are available online. Successful business continuity plans must include solutions that enable employees to work remotely.
A remote help desk software is the one-stop solution for your remote customer support teams. It will streamline your entire support process.
Moreover, with a cloud contact platform, you can easily integrate and access knowledgebase, customer files, CRM, and ticketing systems.
3. Schedule your work hours
With work from home being the new normal, people have been complaining about working over-time. Working from home makes it easier to lose track of time and hours at work bleed into hours at home.
But for most who work on hourly schedules, maintain a proper plan, and keep track of the time you are put in. It helps you maintain work-life balance and also sets high morale for yourself.
Set clear expectations on your work hours and also when you will be offline. This will also help your team plan their shifts accordingly and handle customers when you are offline.
Make sure you follow an organized schedule for communicating with customers as well as with your team.
4. Make use of video conferencing for discussions
Face-to-face communication with your team is always more effective, and this need could now be met with tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Video calls eliminate the barrier of distance.
If you have any doubts to be clarified with your boss or any other discussions with your team or the others, make use of these tools to get the job done. In addition to this, it allows you to share your screen so you can review essential dashboards and metrics as well. You can chime in and ask questions or share stories via chat or microphone.
If you are new to work and you require coaching sessions, you can hop on a video call for your 1:1 coaching sessions as well. Being present with your team and letting them see your expressions as you share your thoughts is crucial to keep communication clear.
Talking through development opportunities and even discussing career goals can be made comfortable through these video catch-ups. If you need more clarity on a topic you are learning, you can even ask the host to record a quick video and email it to you.
5. Make use of the knowledge base
The knowledgebase is an important part of customer service and it is very handy with remote support. Having a thorough understanding of your knowledge base will help you solve your customer’s issues effectively.
Updating your knowledge base in a timely manner will also help the customers find solutions to their issues easily. Also, the customer support rep or agent can look into it and solve the issue without having to reach out to other team members or managers when they have doubts regarding any issue.
Few bonus tips to remember as a customer support rep
- Make sure you partner with the IT team to get the most-used resources available online and the supporting VPN if required to work from home. Also, get it cleared from vendors whether the network’s requirements are met and what it takes to handle interactions from different places.
- Set yourself to autonomous work, so that you are empowered to help the customers. Try to focus on the outcomes over the metrics. When you have a fear of making a mistake, talk to your teammates or your manager for some confidence-boosting.
- Have another form of communication other than calls, emails, and meetings for immediate responses. Use of a messaging app like WhatsApp or messenger or slack, with your team, can help you keep the lines of communication open so you can reach out for help when you need it.
Advantages of Work from home for customer support reps
A tremendous amount of money has been saved by both the parties during this remote work: company and employees. The cost of transportation to commute to your workplace has been reduced by a significant amount.
Work from home has enabled a very flexible work environment and time off requests have been reduced due to the flexibility it offers to manage our time and tasks according to our personal wishes and needs.
Some people are more productive and creative in their homes. This style of work is extremely advantageous for parents having small children to plan their work according to their child’s needs.
3. Better work and life balance
A professional has the ability to report into the office and consider remote work partially as an option. This gives a better work and life balance which is often achieved and turned to satisfaction through working at the home arrangement.
Disadvantages of working from home for customer support reps
1. Difficult to concentrate
Home can be a very comfortable place to work which can come with plenty of distractions as well.
We are just a reach away from the fridge to make a coffee or a bed to take a nice nap. This can be extremely dangerous as it will draw away a lot of time from our work.
2. Lack of communication and competition
COVID-19 has pushed us to a point where the only means of communication has been through digital platforms. Due to this, there might be a feeling of loneliness which might in turn result in melancholic for certain people.
They try to compensate for this by involving/spending more time on social media platforms for networking which can definitely not compensate for real-life communication.
3. Overworking and overeating
Stress is the main factor behind two-overworking and overeating. The former will drain all the energy in our body and the latter will happen to recharge the lost energy. Due to this, people tend to gain excess weight and become obese without a proper workout routine.
Overworking happens with the fear of losing a promotion. Being in front of your manager’s eyes can be a lot beneficial here than being hidden due to work from home.
Conclusion: Work from home tips for customer support reps
In short, working from home comes with a unique set of challenges for customer support representatives. But it is also an opportunity for businesses to build a happy and productive team and integrate top talent from around the globe.
Many people are considering work from home since the office has no longer been the only workplace. The majority of employees argue that they should be given an option to change their workplace from office to home.
Whether you are working from home temporarily or plan on making this change long-term, creating a supportive home-office environment, finding helpful tools, managing your team effectively, and keeping up with healthy habits can all help you make the most of your remote work.
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An avid reader and analyst. Harshetha reads various articles to keep up with the current trends. She is also a sports enthusiast and goes by the famous quote, “Nothing is given, everything is earned.” She pushes herself constantly to learn something new and stops at nothing. She also believes that kindness is a way of life.