In an ever-increasing business world, the advantages of having your employees telecommuting has become a subject of increasing debate. As more companies move their manufacturing and sales headquarters to other regions, the traditional office environment is no longer the most conducive for efficient and uninterrupted communication. Telecommuting has made it possible for many working professionals to maintain a home-based existence while still conducting crucial work tasks. While telecommuting is most often associated with those who are self-employed or hold down full-time jobs, many companies have found a new use for this type of remote employee relations team: providing remote customer service assistance.
The primary obstacle companies face in using remote customer services teams to provide customer service assistance is the reality that customer service representatives rarely, if ever, possess the specialized training, interpersonal skills, or customer service management abilities that are required to provide exceptional customer service. While telecommuting may seem like a convenient option, most companies know it’s simply not practical for every single representative to telecommute. Companies that utilize remote customer services often have call centers, which require representatives who can both physically and virtually make calls from the confines of their homes. But there are ways that businesses can work around these issues to effectively manage remote work operations, allowing them to reap all the benefits while minimizing the inherent drawbacks.
Keep Your People Connected: One major drawback of remote customer services is that customers frequently must wait on hold or be left on hold while a representative interacts with them. While businesses might look into some type of scheduling software to automate the process, in many cases, a representative can’t possibly spend the time necessary to properly care for a customer’s needs. Because telephone systems typically utilize a voice messaging system to transmit live messages, it’s imperative that representatives can immediately assist customers when they’re in need. Most VoIP systems allow representatives to leave messages immediately. And if a representative can’t connect with a customer at any point, it’s likely the customer won’t return for the next appointment.
Minimize Wait Times: Although many businesses believe that the most successful remote customer services operation is based entirely on speaking with customers live, the reality is that call centers need to keep their representatives as available as possible. Asking a client to wait on hold or be left on hold for extended periods of time is one way that this can be done. Another way is to create separate phone sets for each individual business, allowing calls to be handled as needed. If a representative is not able to speak with a particular customer, he or she can simply reschedule the call back to a different line, saving precious minutes. In the case of an emergency, leaving an important client on hold can mean the difference between making that sale and not making that sale.
Minimize Conflicts Of Interest: One of the most serious drawbacks of remote working customer service is the possibility of conflict of interest between the remote worker and the actual client. It’s not uncommon for remote workers to try and use their position to sway a sale or the decision of a potential client rather than perform their duties. While the potential for corruption is low when it comes to a call center, it can still happen. By putting in place a system that limits the number of hours a remote worker can be called or calls back, a company ensures itself of incurring just that little bit of cost from such a potentially unethical practice.
With these four basic requirements in place, a business can expect its remote customer service representatives to perform flawlessly. By laying out clearly the expectations for each remote employee, companies can easily assure themselves of getting the most out of their investment in remote workers. In the end, the benefits of having a great remote customer service program outweigh the small amount of cost it initially requires.