The discussion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of remote work for a company started several years ago. The pandemic has left no choice but to master the skill of working remotely.
Yet, as it’s been receding, many managers start questioning if they should switch some departments to the remote mode.
The decision to give up an in-house customer support team comes especially tricky.
A client believes the agent they are talking to is the part of the company’s team and expects to get the same positive experience each time. Hence, all remote agents have to provide an equal level of service.
So, is a remote customer support team a good option for you?
Here are the crucial points to consider:
The recent stats from Fond.co shows that remote workers devote 1.4 days more every month to work-related tasks than their in-office colleagues.
Working remotely, employees face less stress due to the absence of commute, and the necessity to juggle their other plans to fit into the office schedule.
With a lower stress level, your customer support reps are generally healthier and happier. Thus, they take less sick leaves and find it easier to handle difficult customers.
Lower Company Expenses
When your employees work remotely, you don’t need an office space for them.
With the estimated cost of employing an in-house customer support agent of $7000 per year in the USA, you may calculate just how beneficial a remote team is for your business.
What’s more, if there are peak and low seasons in your niche, you may hire support agents accordingly and not lose money when the phone lines are silent.
Highly Experienced Staff
Hiring a remote team, you are not limited by the candidates within your geographical area. Instead, your pool of choice expands globally.
In today’s conditions, when many companies employ internationally, telecommuting adds competition among the candidates. Consequently, labor rates drop, and prospects work to raise their skills.
Thus, you can pick from more experienced and less expensive agents.
In case your business needs to provide 24/7 customer support, having a remote support team gives you the flexibility that lacks in a traditional office.
With the possibility to hire customer representatives in different time zones, you solve the issue with unpopular shifts.
More than that, having achieved their work-life balance, your remote customer support agents will show less tendency to come late and be generally happier with their work.
Lack of Control
If you are used to having an in-house team, letting your customer support reps go remote may give you the sense of the lost control.
You cannot randomly check a remote agent’s call unless you listen to them. Of course, you can check the recording after the call is made, yet it slows down the process.
Likewise, you have less access to your remote team’s performance tracking and ensuring their service remains consistent.
Newbie Onboarding Struggles
As you hire a new employee, you have to introduce them to the new environment, explain your company culture and routines, engage in training. With a remote team, it might be harder to see how a newbie handles the new information.
Speaking of customer support’s specifics, being unable to hear colleagues’ work, a new agent may struggle to pick the communication style and get used to the tools.
Emotional connection with colleagues can also be an issue. It is harder to start sharing ideas when you cannot track the other person’s body language.
Customer support reps work with sensitive data like clients’ phone numbers, financial records, company internal regulations. Signing an NDA with your employees and keeping an eye on them following your security standards helps to avoid data leakages through someone’s fault.
On the other hand, you can’t be sure that your employees always use secure networks. An office usually comes with an established, well-protected network, and you know for sure everyone in your team is using it.
Meanwhile, you never know if your remote agent is working from home, or some public area that can put safe data exchange at risk.
Increased Need for Recognition
As the already-mentioned report by Fond.co suggests, remote teams only stay productive if they feel their connection with coworkers.
There are also stats from Proofhub describing how different forms of employee recognition influence the workers’ engagement. If you don’t have time for reading, here’s the summary:
- Almost 70% of employees feel motivated to work harder when their leaders praise their effort regularly;
- 90% of employees need to feel their work makes an impact;
- More than half of employees who are happy with their work have been staying with their current employer for over 3 years.
When a team is away, it’s easy for a manager to overlook an employee’s contribution, which leads to gaps in appreciation.
Without enough communication, employees start feeling isolated and lose their motivation.
Tools to manage a remote team
No one likes being micromanaged.
At the same time, as a manager or a company owner, you want to know how much time your employees spend on completing their tasks.
The right time-tracking tool allows you to see what your customer support agents are currently up to, and spot unprofitable work.
Customer Service Tracking Solutions
Tools like live chat software enable you to track agent activity, the number of incoming requests, how many issues have been resolved, and even monitor the conversation flow in real-time.
There are a variety of live chat providers in the market, you may check and compare them to choose the best for you.
You can also use the pre-made lists like the review by HelpCrunch to make your research easier.
Internal Communication Tools
Regular staff meetings and updates help to ensure everyone is aware of their current role in the work process.
There is a decent amount of communication tools and platform providers out there. For instance, you may look at the top 11 team chat apps list and see if there is anything you could incorporate.
It doesn’t matter where your customer support team works from as long as it provides excellent service to your clients.
However, you should carefully weigh the advantages and potential risks before deciding whether or not hiring remote call agents is beneficial for your company kind.