4 Steps to Setting Up Customer Service Programs for Long Term Success
The last several months have taught businesses that the current environment of remote work isn’t going away any time soon. While the initial move was extremely fast and left a lot of companies to fix environmental and technology issues post-transition, many are now faced with the challenge of setting up employees remotely for the long term—and the customer service industry is no different.
At Majorel, we have a global workforce of more than 50,000 in 29 countries, so the challenge was unique. During the transitional phase, it quickly became apparent that it’s crucial to ensure policies and technology usage are not temporary using four key steps: technology set-up, managing and motivating people virtually, ongoing training, and recruiting the right talent in the first place.
Each step in the process also has implications for the future, as customer service will rely on the flexibility to work from anywhere. More than 40% of millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the workforce, say flexibility to work from anywhere is a priority when evaluating job opportunities.
Step 1: Set up the necessary technical and legal conditions to enable representatives to execute their roles efficiently and effectively
There are several challenges associated with transitioning customer service teams to a home setting. Together with legal safeguards and data protection issues, businesses need to assess the technological requirements that the employee has access to at home. Do they have a strong internet connection that’s secure? Is there a private area of the home that the representative can work from to ensure customer privacy? Is personal hardware sufficient or do new devices need to be purchased?
Depending on the answers to these questions, private devices can be set up for professional use by IT through remote desktop solutions such as a VPN. Or, if private devices aren’t suitable, new PCs, laptops, and mobile phones will need to be purchased. Legal conditions must also be considered, particularly for highly regulated businesses like banking and insurance. Arrangements need to be made to ensure all data is properly protected and compliance precautions are in place.
Step 2: To help manage remote teams, transition processes to the virtual world to ensure consistent communication with customer service staff
After technical and legal factors have been sorted out and implemented, the next step is to set up processes for managing a remote customer service team with the goal of maintaining and promoting communication by managers and between representatives. Remote work eliminates a lot of informal communication—such as saying hello to co-workers in the morning—but this type of communication is essential for teams to feel motivated every day.
Managers and team leaders should schedule regular one-on-one check-ins with staff to maintain a regular connection. Businesses should also use a communication tools to help support regular team conversations that go beyond chat—think video and calling capabilities. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams also help staff to share important documents and reports while making the process easy and seamless. With these measures, businesses can maintain and improve team cohesion, staff morale, and productivity in a remote setting.
Step 3: Ensure new employees are well-trained and must-know information is current
When training can’t be done on-site, it must take place digitally. Training materials will have to be revised and adapted for virtual training along with the use of online tools to ensure training modules can be viewed by staff at home. One factor to keep in mind is that since representatives will be participating in trainings remotely, it can be tedious without direct face-to-face interaction, so make sure that modules aren’t too long and are easily digestible.
To truly make virtual training a success, businesses also need to decide the requirements for training software, which should factor in security, user friendliness, and reporting capabilities. Software that isn’t time-consuming to install tend to have the most success. That way, representatives can participate in the training they need, such as new brand updates, and focus the majority of their time on servicing customer inquiries.
Step 4: Find long-term ways to recruit new employees via online channels and to map the application process completely online
Setting up customer service for long term success doesn’t just mean catering to the current workforce, it also applies to recruitment. Over the last several months, several sectors have seen exponential increases in customer inquiry volumes—the airline industry alone has seen a 199% increase in customer service calls. To help fill hundreds and thousands of jobs within the growing customer service industry, video communication tools are a key technology asset—applicants can speak directly with recruiters when in-person interviews are no longer an option. Other aspects of the application process that should become digital include testing customer service applicants on their phone and digital skills. For example, technology can simulate a chat window interaction to help businesses assess this important skill for representatives.
A glimpse into the future of customer service
Following these four key steps to support remote work preparation, management, training, and recruitment will allow companies to realize business continuity and continue to provide a high level of service to customers. As the industry moves forward with the “new normal” of work, it will be that much more possible for representatives to work from home, especially with the right policies, processes and technology in place. The flexibility that remote work provides will also open the door to attract new talent who are looking to work in customer service without having to commute into an office. Overall, the transition of customer service teams to remote settings has several benefits, and by following the aforementioned four steps, businesses can set themselves up for long-term success and remain competitive.