Gone are the days when customer support agents are required to sit side-by-side. Remote work has become the norm for many support teams, and COVID-19 has only cemented what many companies have known for a long while: an efficient customer support team can deliver a great customer experience no matter where they are.

For remote agents to thrive and provide the optimum support experience to customers, supervisors should consider these guidelines to help manage their customer support agents and teams:

Quality Customer Interactions

Above all, the quality of the customer experience should drive customer support strategies Achieving customer satisfaction should always be the primary goal of any service organization, no matter their location. By prioritizing customer experience, all of your systems should be set-up to get customers to the answers they need faster. Whether it’s human-to-human contact or a self-service option like an FAQ, or using intelligent routing rules that bring customers to the desk of a specialized agent, using support tools that move customers intelligently throughout the customer service process will ensure resolutions are found quickly and customers leave satisfied.

Deploy Tools and Platforms that Give You the Most Flexibility

WiFi or a data connection and a laptop are how most remote agents do their jobs today. Managers and supervisors should ensure that agents have the best tools to communicate, collaborate, and complete tasks as necessary. Some obvious choices include the ever popular suite of Google tools – Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. Keeping important reports, notes, presentations, guidelines, and more in the cloud ensures equal access and version control. Note-taking tools like Evernote, Google Keep, or Microsoft OneNote serve as great reminders and can be shared with other team members. Project management tools are also useful for some teams to help track and manage deadlines and include Trello, Asana and Jira. Surging in popularity today are of course real-time communication tools like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and others; along with video messaging apps like iMessage and WhatsApp Messenger.

It’s critical to provide agents with a customer support platform that is self-managing. By leveraging Contact-Center-as-a-Service platforms (CCaaS), agents only need a web browser and Internet connection to access their required support tool. Leave the complex maintenance and management of the platform to the platform provider.

Maximize Agent Scheduling and Embrace Data

Data is useless unless it provides a path to action. Customer support platforms must embrace actionable data and provide built-in, detailed reports. This allows businesses to adjust their plans, making critical changes to support strategies on the fly. Agents should be used thoughtfully ensuring changes are made in areas where the biggest impact will be realized. Rich charts will help supervisors respond to changing conditions based on trends, rather than ad hoc or a unique occurrence that is unlikely to happen in the future. For instance, are more technically advanced calls coming in after a software update is released? If this is the case, post-release staffing should consist of more technical and seasoned team members who would be best suited to handle more technical questions.. Analyzing data reports thoroughly and intelligently can help not only with agent scheduling, but can also provide insights into how to best set up queue structures, FAQ’s and self-service options that need updating, channel and agent performance, and more.

Daily Contact with Agents

Keeping agents feeling connected and communications strong, requires a daily one-on-one interaction between supervisors and agents. Consistency helps keep teams on track and goals top of mind. Communication is an important ingredient to success, especially for remote workers. Use this time to provide company updates, agent performance reviews, process changes, queue assignments, and also give agents the opportunity to ask questions and present concerns. When possible, these interactions should be via video so everyone benefits from face-to-face communication.

Stay on Top of Agent Assignments and Queue Management

Traditionally, customer support teams have built out their support teams by trying to make their support agents know as much as possible. The result of this is that most support agents know a little bit about a lot. However, with support inquiries in high demand and customers desperately seeking answers, having specialized agents who are subject matter experts can better help customers find an answer and resolve problems faster. Having agents specialized in specific product lines or features are not only more equipped to handle product-specific questions, they can also provide feedback, suggestions, or recommendations to help customers get the most out of the products they love.

Keeping the Team Together, Despite the Distance

Whether together in an on-premise call center, or remote, support teams can be equally successful. Supervisors should foster a culture that prompts open communication and daily interaction to ensure remote agents feel part of an integrated and critical team. Keep them motivated by investing in their ongoing training and education, and allow them to consider opportunities within your company outside the customer service organization. Customer support teams are frontline workers creating a positive customer experience. Invest in their success.