How to stay connected with remote workers
How to stay connected with remote workers
Even our New Zealand bros can feel light years away when it comes to staying connected and like a team trying to get to the same business goals (rather than beating each other about the head on the rugby field)- let alone remote workers in India, the Philippines or South Africa. Figuring out how to connect with remote workers is a new business challenge- however approached the right way, with the right system and support in place, these team members can be remote but not isolated- which makes a big difference to their place on the happiness scale.
Sending part or all of your customer service call centres off shore is a bit scary, as there are risks. We all know the challenges. But the benefits in doing so are huge- cost savings, service that doesn’t sleep; and more time, resources and budget internally to work on other business objectives. With big juicy carrots like those dangling away, the decision to go offshore seems a no brainer. Now you’ve made the call, it’s time to think about how you’re going to stay connected to your remote workers, who are a very important part of your business, even if they’re sitting at a desk tens of thousands of kilometres away.
Check the working conditions are ok
First of all, you need to think about this desk they’re sitting at- is it located in a safe area? Are the work conditions appropriate and health and safety measures in place where they need to be? These are questions you’ve likely never had to think about before, in your nice office where the warm embrace of your local barista is a mere hop skip and jump away- but the environment your remote workers are in is key to having a happy and motivated team. So consider this when developing your Service Agreement, do some research into the area and make sure you have full visibility of work conditions.
Get yourself a centralised software platform
So you’ve decided where your offshore centre will be, signed your agreement and are ready to get up and running. Now it’s time to look at what you need to stay connected to your extended team. You could really clock up the frequent flyer points with weekly or monthly WIPs but probably won’t be in business for long if you try to get that one by your finance team! There needs to be a way to form a strong and cohesive virtual connection so it’s like you’re there- in spirit, if you will.
Your giving yourselves high fives, as you should- your new team of remote workers is up and running! Nice one. You have strong managers and well qualified, highly intelligent employees so all should be hunky dory. Hang on, are your call times increasing? Queue abandonment on the rise? This is not good, but calm the farm, it’s not necessarily a disaster either. You need to have visibility of these measures in order to really understand how this team is performing. First of all, a centralised software platform means that you have transparency across all calls, and track every action from connection to call duration. Having the information means you can have better conversations with your managers to understand your team of remote workers a bit more, and get underneath the data to see what’s really going on. It could be calls take a bit longer due to language difficulties, or the resourcing might need a tweak if customers wait times are getting too long. Or they could simply be surfing the net and not working at all.
Use live data to monitor remote workers performance and facilitate mentoring
You can’t, as the Call Centre Manager, do a walk around and furtively peek over shoulders to see what’s going on, who is working and who is catching up on the latest Game of Thrones recap. But you can monitor calls live and run reports on the fly so you can track performance in real time. You don’t want your staff to feel like big brother is constantly watching, so use the data you collect through this centralised software platform to build rapport with your managers, who can then offer side by side mentoring to your agents. The right software is a pretty important tool for managers to train their staff in customer service and sales objection handling without making your hard earned, valuable customers cranky.
Hire the right agents for the right campaigns
Are your remote workers right for the campaign you’re running? This means hiring the right agents (for example if it’s a technically complex offer you need to have the right nerds on board), ensuring they understand and buy into what they are selling or supporting, and providing them with the training tools and information they require to stay on top of their game. Recruitment briefs and info, training documents, campaign information and updates can all live in a single online location, to help you stay across the management of your team who is, after all, your front line in customer service. This system will give you the confidence in knowing the right staff is recruited for the right campaign, they are well trained with constant refreshers, and any concerns are identified and nipped in the bud before becoming a full on international incident.
If your remote workers feel confident about your brand and offer, feel they are being helped with any development areas with side by side mentoring and continuous training and development, call quality will be strong and who knows, before long that warm glow might start building in their bellies- the passion to succeed. Who would have thought this would all be possible without even leaving your postcode? The world is teeny tiny, made that much easier to navigate by having all the information you need to run your business effectively, wherever you are.
Want to explore the offshore world a bit closer?
Flickr cc: purplejavatroll