With the rise in remote working over the last couple of years, a whole host of fresh challenges are facing customer service teams. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest challenges that your teams may face as they adapt to a new way of working, and ways in which these obstacles can be overcome.
1) The distractions of working remotely
It’s no surprise that working from home leaves you vulnerable to an increased number of distractions; “was that the washing machine finishing?”, “why is my son making so much noise?”, or, even more worryingly, “why isn’t my son making any noise?!”
One of the keys to limiting distractions is to be organized. Synchronize schedules with your partner, housemate, or whoever else is sharing your new workspace. Have a clear plan for who is looking after the kids and when, and let everybody know when you’re expecting an important work call so they know to keep the noise to a minimum.
Planning ahead is not only beneficial for your work life, but for your home life, too. Use the time you would have been on your daily commute to get jobs done around the house, or simply to spend a bit more quality time with your loved ones.
2) Increases in customer requests
Many industries are seeing an increase in the number or customer service calls they’re receiving. A Freshworks survey in 2020 found that 71% of customer service managers had experienced an increase in overall contact volume.
Considering that a large portion of representatives are having to deal with working remotely as well, this can put a great deal of strain on customer service teams.
Having a robust FAQ page on your website will cut out a number of customer queries that only require a quick response. Similarly, chatbots can be used to deal with the more mundane and easy to answer problems, and there are a wealth of other benefits to using them, too.
Some queries will inevitably have to be answered by a living, breathing customer service representative, but even in these scenarios there are tools which can limit the pressure of increasing call volumes.
Services such as in-queue call back, so that customers who may be left on hold waiting for an agent to speak to, can opt to have a call returned to them when somebody is available. This means the customer hasn’t been listening to hold music for 20 minutes by the time you speak to them, perfect for situations when the average speed of answer isn’t quite as quick as we would like it to be in a perfect world.
3) Dealing with difficult customers
Times are tough, and the stresses and strains of the last couple of years have taken their toll on many of us. Even the most well-meaning of us can find ourselves getting stressed-out and snippy, especially if we feel like we’re not getting anywhere. Be prepared to face an increasing number of customers like this.
If you find yourself faced with an especially rude or aggressive customer, it’s important to try and not take it personally. Most of the time they’re not angry with you, you’re just the person who was unfortunate enough to pick up the phone to them.
If you’re replying to a particularly rude email, be sure to make your written response the pinnacle of professionalism, but there’s no harm in saying out loud what you’re really thinking as you write it. (Just don’t get the two mixed up, for goodness’ sake).
4) Adapting to new technologies
Working remotely can often mean working with a whole host of new tools that customer service agents may not be familiar with. Let’s be honest, how many of us were used to daily video calls before the last couple of years? Getting to grips with these new ways of working can be an obstacle to providing excellent customer service, but they don’t need to be.
Providing sufficient training and support to those now working remotely is the easiest and most effective way to limit the impact of technological inexperience. And it needn’t be a mammoth task to introduce your teams to these new technologies and have them using them like pros.
There are all kinds of helpful articles available to help your teams troubleshoot from the comfort of their own home offices, for every little problem, right down to how to fix mic echo.
5) Keeping your team productive
It’s that much harder to monitor the day-to-day wellbeing of your team when they’re working from home and aren’t just across the aisle from you in the office. But that doesn’t mean that keeping your employees on the right track is any less important, especially when high numbers of those working remotely have reported feeling the effects of burnout.
There’s no hard and fast rule for how to motivate your workforce and ensure you’re getting the best from them. Making sure they have the best tools to make their jobs easier is one good step in the right direction. Embracing cloud technologies to keep everybody connected is a great place to start.
At a time when it’s easy to feel disconnected from other employees and other teams within your business, a bit of unification goes a long way towards keeping everybody on the same page.
6) Keeping your teams supported
Now more than ever, it’s easy for those working from home to feel disconnected from their peers, and isolated in their work. Checking in on your employees well being is just as important as checking in on their productivity, in fact even more so. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.
A good way to check the satisfaction of your workforce is to encourage employee reviews. This feedback allows you to see how your employees may need further support in these trying times. Furthermore, the transparency it provides helps to build trust, not just amongst your employees, but also with potential and existing clients.
Face these challenges head-on, as a team
As we’ve discussed, the best ways to overcome the roadblocks of remote customer service are to keep the lines of communication open by checking in regularly with your teams and giving them as much assistance, support, and training as they need.
The importance of forward planning and embracing new technologies cannot be overstated, to ensure that the quality of customer service is as high as it can be, for many years to come.