As a part of our Customer Service Week initiatives in 2021, we decided to discuss the topic that has been driving customer support since the very start of the pandemic (and way before it): “Supporting Agents in a Remote/Hybrid Work Environment”. As an industry, customer service tends to be heavily reliant on the very concept of a remote work environment, but there are a lot of performance management and coaching challenges that go hand in hand with it.
We invited four panelists to share their lessons learned during the pandemic, Matt Dale, VP of Customer Support from Illuminate Education, Mitchell van der Aar, Head of Customer Experience from TicketSwap, Eugenia Chuprina, Head of Support from Reply.io, and Rory O’Beirne, Head Of Customer Support from Tiqets.
Shaakirah Chettiar, our Head of Customer Experience, hosted the talk and got the speakers to share their take on some of the most intriguing questions:
- What are the key challenges to managing/working in remote/hybrid teams?
- How can customer support leaders leverage remote & hybrid work environments to better engage and empower their agents?
- How to develop a team culture in a hybrid/remote work environment?
- How can support leaders keep their remote teams productive and support them in delivering exceptional customer service?
- Focus on engagement.
- Try to replicate the things you would normally do offline, like games and conversations, online. But see if you can spend time together, whenever possible, offline too. For example, there are lots of social things that work wonders for employee engagement and team-building like having a walk together, working together in each other’s home, playing board games, etc. After all, praise it as much as you want, but communicating in online channels like Slack can fairly easily lead to miscommunication as you don’t get social cues there.
- Give people trust and recognition: have a special channel where colleagues can give each other praise for what they achieved.
- Get flexible.
- Put flexibility towards the core of what you do — see if you can give people options when it comes to scheduling and their shift hours — let them choose the time that is most convenient for them.
- Be human.
- Develop a company culture that is all about understanding.
- Carve enough space to make sure everyone is connected on the human level, try to give people the level of communication they would normally have in the office.
- Encourage people to find the right balance between work and life. After all, one of the threats of working from home is that this work-life line gets blurred and it’s easy to get into a workaholic mode.
- Recognize vulnerability as an integral part of life — everyone is allowed to have a bad day, feel sick, or be overwhelmed — give people the space they need to recover.
- Level up your feedback game.
- Using the feedback customer support teams get from customers to scale the product is a working business strategy. Make a Slack channel with tools, suggestions, and product tips between the Customer Support and the Product team. This will not only help the company growth — on a more granular level this will help your customer support representatives understand that their input has a massive difference about life at the company — their job is far from just answering calls.
If you enjoyed this webinar and are interested in getting more customer support advice from Kaizo and our speakers — stay tuned for our virtual meetups and subscribe to our blog!