How to manage your remote teams more effectively
Having an effective customer service team can be a make or break for your business. One-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service, and it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience, so every interaction needs to be on brand and on-point. This is especially true as the world moved into an eCommerce-driven buying environment, where a support agent may have been the only human point of contact a potential customer has with your brand.
And then, 2020 happened.
Teams rapidly shifted to remote work and the world was turned upside down. Individuals who were used to relying on in-person interactions – and in-house support teams – had to pivot quickly to become remote employees. Managers realized that managing remote teams is hard work and had to rethink how teams interact with each other, give feedback, perform coaching and onboarding, and so much more.
While there are always pain points to building and maintaining an excellent team (no matter what industry or job function), managing remote workers is inherently more challenging. Combine that with the demands of customer service teams and the challenges are tenfold.
But when teams get remote management right, the effects can be amazing – not just for your customers, but your bottom line as well.
Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by between 25-95%, and businesses can grow revenues between 4-8% when they prioritize better customer service experiences.
How we can help
MaestroQA and Qualtrics are here to help customer service teams thrive as they continue to tackle these new challenges. We’re partnering together to make managing a remote workforce easier through a new integration that empowers both managers and agents.
Why it’s hard to manage remote teams and employees
Any type of work style has its own pros and cons, and remote work is no different.
There are a few pain points that make it hard to manage remote teams and employees (that you’re probably already familiar with after likely working remote yourself):
- Teams often find that collaboration and communication are more difficult over digital platforms and video calls.
- Remote employees used to face to face interactions with lots of individuals may feel lonely in an isolated work-from-home setup.
- Remote work environments can be filled with unavoidable distractions.
- Many remote employees struggle to unplug/get away from their home office at the end of the day, leading to increased stress levels and burnout.
These issues impact many parts of CX leaders’ jobs as they grow and evolve their customer service teams:
- Onboarding is trickier, especially if shadowing team members is a key part of the process.
- It can be more difficult to monitor, track, and understand job performance for remote employees.
- Managers have less of a pulse on attitudes towards work and overall happiness, which can negatively impact agent retention.
All in all: it’s really hard to effectively manage remote teams and employees. There are a few key things businesses lack when it comes to remote team management.
What are businesses lacking in remote team management?
It’s hard to manage remote teams for a wide variety of reasons, so it’s no surprise that businesses are lacking certain capabilities and underperforming in areas that are directly related to remote work.
In particular, we’ve seen customer service teams face challenges around ongoing customer service coaching, the agent onboarding experience, and keeping tabs on employee happiness and engagement. Gaps in these areas negatively impact the agent experience and agent retention.
1. Customer service coaching
Customer service coaching is the ongoing process of collaboratively working to improve support agents’ skills so that they can perform at their highest possible level, and provide amazing customer experiences in the process. Coaching is often done by a team lead, quality assurance (QA) analyst, or another team manager.
Many companies lack the proper infrastructure, technology, and bandwidth to carry out the type of coaching and customer service training they were doing in person for remote employees. In particular, coaching processes built around in-person job shadowing experiences are incredibly difficult to replicate while remote.
2. The onboarding experience
Customer service coaching is key to ensuring that agents continually level up their performance, but their journey in customer service starts with onboarding.
Onboarding is the process of training new employees - like customer support agents - on how to perform their job tasks and abilities. Agents need to learn technical skills, customer interaction best practices, product knowledge, and support workflows. They also need to learn the ground rules of their new role, the cultural differences and norms that their new company has, and new company values. While onboarding can be done remotely through the help of tools and technology, the process often feels disjointed and isolating for remote team members.
In addition to these concrete skills, a key part of the onboarding process is building rapport internally so that agents feel connected to their work, which increases retention. But it can be tricky to build rapport over Zoom meetings, and it’s easy to miss the camaraderie that naturally builds with in-person interaction.
3. A pulse on employee happiness and engagement
With remote team members, it can be difficult to get a read on if employees are happy and engaged at work. This can impact metrics and your bottom line - according to Glassdoor, there’s a strong link between employee and customer satisfaction (CSAT), and according to Gallup, engaged employees produce 17% more than disengaged colleagues.
But it can be tricky for managers to understand employee satisfaction at a broader level, especially if they’re used to having in-house support teams. Lots of social dynamics that can be picked up on in in-office interactions are difficult to replicate in a digital environment, especially when agents may only have 30 minutes of direct interaction with a manager per week.
What can you do?
While there are lots of challenges to managing remote teams, there are also many solutions that can help team leaders manage better.
Qualtrics and MaestroQA have partnered together to make leading remote customer service teams easier.
The MaestroQA and Qualtrics integration empower team managers to rapidly gain agent performance and customer service insights. Not only does this make their 1:1s engaging and informative for agents - and helps agents to succeed in their role - but it can positively impact agent retention. And, of course, customers have a better experience too!
Let’s break down what the integration can do and how it can help managers of remote teams.
Bring QA, CES, and CSAT data together to rapidly gain insights
The MaestroQA and Qualtrics partnership brings all of your quality assurance (QA), customer effort score (CES), and customer satisfaction (CSAT) data together at the ticket level so that managers can gain fast insights into performance and areas of opportunity to train agents.
For instance, a manager could spot that certain types of tickets or interactions may have high CES and low QA scores. This means that the agent did not follow internal protocol when it came to handling the ticket, but the customer perceived the interaction as low-effort and easy - and likely had a better customer experience as measured by CSAT.
On the other hand, it may be the case that agents have high QA scores but low CES scores, meaning they followed internal protocol but customers perceived the interaction as high-effort and difficult. Managers could take this insight and dig deeper into the misalignment: maybe agents verify too many pieces of information and customers perceive it as cumbersome, or maybe the returns process articulated correctly by the agent requires too much work on their end. The possibilities for insights are endless - and if acted upon, they all lead to a better customer experience.
Empower Remote Employees to Succeed with Better Coaching
The combination of CSAT, CES, and QA scores is a powerful tool to level up the customer experience, as well as individual agent performance.
The MaestroQA and Qualtrics integration allow CES and CSAT feedback to be created as a specific coaching point within the MaestroQA coaching platform.
This benefits agents by ensuring that coaching insights or areas of feedback are directly accessible to agents, granting them a sense of ownership over their performance and increasing engagement. Feedback is also housed in one place, ensuring that nothing gets lost in the shuffle of day-to-day work.
It also benefits managers and team leaders greatly. Because feedback is data-driven and accessible to agents, it reduces the possibility of bias impacting assessments of agent performance. These coaching points can also be used to drive higher-quality feedback and performance conversations in 1:1s, leading to better agent engagement, improved retention, and ultimately better CX outcomes.
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