Whether you are working with a B2B or B2C company, having a solid support team in place can increase customer retention, improve word-of-mouth and enhance your brand affinity. Having a solid reputation for good customer service can be a game-changer for your business, too, however, it can also be costly to hire and train a team of customer service agents with expenses like office space, desks, and equipment that you’ll need to provide.
Thankfully, there is another option: having a team that’s entirely remote. Modern technology and a growing comfortability with remote workers in the corporate world have made off-site customer support an increasingly common option for companies to explore. A distributed customer support team can be just as effective as an in-house team, at a fraction of the cost.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started:
- Hire Your Team
Hiring your team is perhaps the most important, and challenging, aspect of creating a remote customer support team. You’ll also need a mix of experienced customer support managers to fill leadership roles and entry-level support staff to work phones and respond to tickets (more on that later).
First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure the people you hire are polite, professional, and skilled communicators. In addition, you will want to make sure that applicants are able to provide their own computers, phones, and reliable internet connections. Put applicants through the ringer by making a mock support call part of the interview process.
Because your team is remote, be prepared to conduct interviews via video chat services such as Skype or Zoom.us. As Alisha Shibli, Staff Writer at Recruitment.com explains, “video interviews help create order out of chaos. It allows you to manage all applications in one place, make notes and ratings, and keep it all easily accessible to the entire recruiting team. Video interviews dissolve geographical constraints, reduces tedious paperwork, and save tons of time and resources making the whole recruitment process a lot more efficient.”
One of the great benefits of building a distributed team is that you aren’t limited to talent in your immediate area, but all over the world. This can allow you to build a team that is able to help customers across multiple time zones and therefore making support more accessible to your customer base.
- Create a Knowledge Base
Customer support teams rely on a database of searchable, linked documents known as a knowledge base.
This is true whether you are building an in-house or remote team. A knowledge base is intended to contain all of the information about your company’s services, products and policies that your support team needs to reference in order to assist your customers.
Consider using a software product like Zendesk or Confluence to create a top-notch knowledge base. These services make it easy to create and organize your knowledge base so that your support team can more quickly find the answers they need.
- Establish a Workflow
With your team and knowledge base in place, you now need to organize your teams and establish a workflow.
First of all, you will need to establish how your company will accept support inquiries. By phone? E-mail? Chat? Twitter? All of the above?
Once that is decided, you will need to figure out a system for receiving and prioritizing support requests. Standard industry practice is to establish a customer support ticketing system. Essentially, a customer support ticket is a log of the interaction between the customer and the support person. It is created when the customer initiates contact with support and is “resolved” when the customer’s issue has been addressed.
To create a world-class customer support team, you’ll want to choose a help desk software provider that can automate the ticketing process for you. Popular help desk solutions include LiveAgent, Freshworks, and HelpDesk.
You will also likely need to choose a cloud communications platform that will make it possible to manage the routing of calls and chats to your customer support team. Such cloud communication platforms include Twilio, Nexmo and Voxbone.
- Securing Your Data
A data breach is the last thing any company wants, and you’ll need to be proactive when it comes to enforcing security best practices with your distributed customer support team.
The good news is that most of the leading help desk service providers have many security procedures in place to protect your data, however, no service is 100% immune to data breaches. Furthermore, those security protocols are all for naught if your support staff is accessing the service from a compromised computer or Wi-Fi network.
In addition to providing your staff with anti-virus software for their computers, experts recommend using a remote-access VPN that will allow your support staff to access a secure connection when they are online.
Doing so keeps your customer service efforts private and reliable for everyone involved. Unfortunately, leaks happen, but the right resources and keep everyone safe.
- Putting the Pieces Together
Now that you have all the required pieces of a word-class customer support team in place, you might think your work is done, but it only just beginning.
To get the most out of your customer support operation, you will need to continually make adjustments along the way. Set goals and establish metrics that you will use to measure success, and make improvements to your knowledge base and training program as you learn more about your customers’ needs overtime.
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