Virtual collaboration becomes the need of the hour today. People are trying to adapt to the cutting-edge technology and businesses, in their turn, are tuning up for the changing needs of employees.
Years ago, remote working was something uncommon for customer service positions. But with the latest trends and the whole world changing, it’s here to stay.
Joint online workspaces in customer support build trust, the sense of unity, and mutual support. So, what does it take to collaborate online effectively?
Here are our TOP 4 aspects:
- Flawless communication
- Creative thinking
- Easy knowledge sharing
- Top-notch organizational skills
Do you crave for more in-depth info? Check out these best practices for virtual communication and collaboration to find out why it’s crucial for customer support.
What is virtual collaboration?
Virtual collaboration is working on a shared purpose together availing of digital resources. A distributed team is supposed to utilize communication tools that make for accomplishing tasks without face-to-face interaction.
If you support customers 24/7, having a virtual team handling all client complaints and questions any time is the very thing. Due to the team’s time zone differences, there may be calls scheduled to regulate the workflow late at night or early in the morning. Your assistance will be timely and comprehensive with a highly cooperative team.
Virtual collaboration also implies increased flexibility. You can allow remote customer service agents to manage their hours: make it to the gym, eat out, or just have fun with a family. Thanks to removed commuting, employees have more freedom which positively impacts their career satisfaction.
The role of advanced technology for virtual collaboration
Collaborating virtually can’t be imagined without proper technology. It doesn’t mean you have to go all-out at once, though you might need to invest in appropriate tools.
With a customer service team located everywhere but in the same office, it’s harder to check productivity. To always know what your remote support reps are doing throughout the day, adopt screen monitoring software by Time Doctor. It helps you estimate the time spent on tasks, generate reports, and sends distraction alerts during the business hours.
Another vital aspect here is video conferencing. A remote customer service department should be able to explain tricky issues in real time, troubleshoot together, or schedule a next daily meeting. Such feature-packed video conferencing software as Zoom or Loom will suit your internal communication needs.
Sharing custom data and other valuable files is what any customer service agent does on a regular basis. Consider tools like Dropbox, Hightail, Google Drive, or Slack to streamline these processes and keep track of documents.
Great customer experience results from instant and professional assistance. Such customer communication channels as phone, email, or social networks are no good for quick support. Consider live chat if speedy replies and customer satisfaction matter to you.
With live chat, you can send proactive messages to engage with customers more, catch their behavior, and location for future activities. Such software helps increase sales and convert leads.
As you can see, the role of technology in virtual collaboration is huge. But still, is it worth going online with your customer service team? Let’s dig in.
Here are 10 sound reasons to assure you the importance of virtual collaboration in customer service
1. Cost savings
One of the biggest pro reasons associated with virtual collaboration is cost reduction. A company can save on renting an office, paying for community facilities (heat, lights, water), and taking security measures. Plus, there’s no need in buying snacks and beverages for the whole group.
Since customer support agents can work from different locations, such common perks for office workers as parking lots or free stationery will also spare the company’s funds.
Virtual collaboration is all about convenience. Think of the time wasted in wearisome traffic jams that get under the skin. Work from the comfort of your home will keep neurons (and budget) safe and sound.
2. Staff satisfaction
Workplace collaboration provides an atmosphere where employees can feel appreciated for their unique skills. For remote customer support, this appreciation might be harder to achieve. What should a team lead undertake to please colleagues?
For starters, go for 1-1 interactions. But don’t make them just about work. Ask if a person has a nice day or if there are some plans after work. Even though you can’t pat your colleague’s shoulder, it doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with video calls.
A virtual customer service team might have even stronger difficulties being always on their own. To help them combat isolation and promote job satisfaction, arrange fun activities from time to time. Everything from how-to drawing workshops to online quest room challenges will do.
Remote service agents usually have fewer opportunities for socialization. 73% of employees say that flexibility is the reason why they’re satisfied. Working elsewhere is an additional chance for them to spend quality time with families, travel more, or do something that’s kept on the backburner.
3. Increased productivity
Sure, virtual customer support teams cope with productivity badly. The temptation to surf the Internet or take a longer afternoon nap is higher. While someone may succumb to these decoys, others want to be on-task.
Thanks to digital collaboration tools, tons of common tasks can be done in a jiffy. For instance, employee monitoring software helps see how much time a person spends on a certain project. It also notices the inactive time and reminds a person to go back to work.
Due to the inability to catch your employees’ screens and peer over their shoulders, the workflow may suffer. However, with a screenshot feature, this won’t be a problem anymore. It only takes several snaps to friendly remind customer service agents about clients’ issues and complaints.
Setting boundaries is vital, too. Virtual employees usually tend to get incoming calls or emails while they should be off the clock. If a work-life balance is ignored, it might result in customer service burnout and sap productivity.
4. Improved team trust
Trust is crucial for any team, especially a distributed one. And mistrust, in its turn, is the indicator of poor communication. Engaging with remote team members regularly to discuss their pain points and other issues helps build trust.
When collaborating virtually, employees have more freedom. To omit unnecessary business issues, make sure you can rely on the people you hire. But honestly, a person won’t want to act wrong if surrounded by a healthy team culture.
You can buy the most advanced software, but if your remote team isn’t comfortable working together, the virtual collaboration will be weak. Team’s trust can be achieved by organizing different activities — board game weekend, virtual happy hours, etc. The main takeaway here is to reach mutual connections, get to know each other better, and gin up collaborative efforts.
5. Reduced communication lag
When you support customers remotely, communication lag might stand in the way. It may take several hours until your colleague answers your message or calls you back. An important feature request might fall through the crack or product update broadcast might be a mess. There are too many barriers that suspend you from flawless working interactions.
In a virtual environment, these limits are no longer true. You can skype a colleague and get all your questions answered, drop a line to a manager and deal with a stressed customer, or schedule an urgent Zoom call to reach a consensus together.
By exploiting the best technology, you can connect with your group in a matter of seconds. Schedule meetings, manage projects, or automate your workflow with advanced team collaboration tools: communication lag won’t be a problem.
6. Intense focus on meet-ups
The overall success of virtual team collaboration stems from the ability to take joint actions. Let’s picture a situation. A customer success manager has busy hours and some of the product features are down which makes clients go nuts. Is there a solution?
There’s always a way-out. In this case, there’s a point in contacting the rest of the team via a video chat. Brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot poor processes, or just cheer colleagues up.
Now that your customer support goes virtual, carve out time regularly to sync up as a group and discuss even non-work-related issues. Take drinks and have fun with icebreaker games: your get-togethers will be even more thrilling.
Let your customer service reps host these meet-ups on their own, without you as a leader. By doing so, your staff will unwind a little and blow off some steam. They might be a little hushed with management being in earshot.
7. Global talents hiring
One of the greatest scattered team advantages is offering the most valuable assets a job. Besides, virtual collaboration allows employees to be located everywhere, which makes your job opening more rewarding.
International hires can boost a client base and your coverage: customer support will be available for more people whenever convenient to them. Plus, a diverse workforce is a perfect chance to quickly adapt to the clients’ needs.
Inviting employees of different backgrounds and cultures means bringing a fresh set of perspectives to the table. This can result in better problem solving and enhanced productivity.
As a matter of fact, people now look for a job where they can grow, feel accepted and challenged. A customer support position delivers an array of challenges, doesn’t it? Make sure you find the right person who can take them and also has time management skills. Don’t be too picky though, give every candidate a chance.
8. Better knowledge sharing
Have you ever thought about how much time we spend looking for information? For instance, you’re a service agent who received a tricky question from a customer. Sadly, but you can’t give all the answers right away. What should you do?
That’s when knowledge base software comes into play. A well-built help center is handy for both customers and support reps. Every time a client arrives with a question, a service rep can send a related article in a chat without spending too much time and effort.
An insightful knowledge base is indispensable for virtual collaboration because valuable information is stored in one place. Onboarding new employees will be more convenient. Cover such topics in your knowledge base as:
- Review of internal company processes
- Explanation of products and services
- Hardware and software tools
- Full-on training materials
When showing the ropes to the newcomers, use such tools as screen sharing and video chats. They will help walk an employee through the working process.
9. More context from body language
One of the biggest cons of working remotely is missing out on body language. When you’re in an office, you can catch emotions, tones, and other signs. Moreover, you can easily identify confusion, dissatisfaction, or discomfort.
On the flip side, when you’re chatting with colleagues online using video, you’re provided with more context. By collaborating virtually, you can hear voices and see the mimics. It’s next to impossible to misinterpret what a colleague is trying to say.
10. Higher team engagement
As the research states, highly engaged employees produce better business outcomes. For virtual working environments, engagement is a requirement for speed, execution, and teamwork.
When people collaborate online, it breeds their feeling of positivity and the sense of community. Especially for those teams who deliver customer service. If service agents develop a culture of cohesion and mutual help, it will definitely impact customer interactions.
Virtual collaboration is crucial for customer service as it gives a stellar chance to take communication with colleagues to the next level. Organize casual hangouts, encourage wellness (e.g. regular break to reduce stress), and make sure your staff is heard. Remote workers will be engaged if they know you care for them.
While it gets more and more challenging to manage team members who stretch across different time zones, the digital era allows you to adapt to such conditions smoothly. Arm your customer support reps with the right virtual communication tools, create a healthy environment, and encourage mutual support. Your clients will enjoy a top-notch service which is the result of virtual collaboration.
About The Author
Lidia Bondarenko is a PR and outreach specialist at HelpCrunch, an all-in-one customer communication platform. Her professional experience encompasses customer service improvement, social media marketing, and SEO. Follow her on Twitter @Liya_Bondarenko.