Wondering how remote work will affect your customer service quality and CSAT? You’re not alone. With more and more teams switching to remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s one of the most commonly asked questions in support communities.
The good news is that there are several companies with fully remote customer service teams who have been practicing #wfh for years. Automattic, the makers of WordPress.com and WooCommerce, is one of the most well-known remote companies… and they constantly deliver a CSAT score of 95% and more.
So, there’s a good chance that switching to remote will not affect your support quality and you’ll continue receiving the CSAT scores that you’re used to - though, without paying extra attention to keeping your team in sync, retaining your consistent support quality might not come so easily.
Embracing the new challenges of remote customer service can have hidden benefits as well. You can also turn this situation into a brilliant opportunity to improve your customer service team’s performance. Here’s how.
The first piece of advice for all companies worried that their CSAT scores will drop: don’t wait for the customers to tell you that your customer experience sucks. Analyze what’s happening in your support interactions to notice any changes in the quality right away.
- Regular conversation reviews provide insight into your customer service quality at all times. Read samples of your agents’ interactions and listen to their call recordings to know what’s worrying your users and whether your agents are up to par.
- Internal Quality Score (IQS) - the metric of conversation reviews helps you compare your agents’ performance over time. Rate your team’s support interactions based on a common scorecard and you’ll understand which part of their communication is suffering due to the switch to remote work - is it product knowledge, empathy, or any other quality criteria that you track?
Conversation reviews will also come in handy when hiring and onboarding new support agents while working remotely. Review all new agents’ responses before they’re sent to customers and provide feedback for improvements as necessary. This way, you’ll be able to let newbies get into real-life support action without losing sleep.
Tools like Klaus help you get going with regular conversation reviews right away. Klaus connects to your customer service helpdesk, lets you create custom scorecards, calculates your Internal Quality Score, and creates meaningful reports that make support quality control easy.
"Since we started doing conversation reviews on Klaus, we’re sharing more information internally and providing ten times as much proactive advice between support agents than we did before." Luis Hernandez, VP Customer Success at Geckoboard
The second piece of advice is a logical sequence to the previous one: provide regular feedback to your support agents. Pointing to your team’s areas of improvement is the only way your agents can become better at what they do.
In a remote setting, you need to pay more attention to making the feedback happen because it doesn't naturally come through in body language, watercooler chats, etc. Here’s how to do it:
- Accompany ticket ratings with actionable feedback to help agents turn those shortcomings into strengths.\ \ Grigorij Urasov, an agent at Automattic explains how he provides feedback to his remote peers at Automattic: “I'm trying to avoid phrases like “You should have..” or plain “this is wrong”. Instead, I usually explain how I would have handled this interaction starting with “I usually..” or “On top of that, I'd add…”.”
- Discuss agents’ performance in regular one-on-one sessions via video conferencing (Zoom, whereby, and Google Hangouts can host your remote meetings). Feedback collected via conversation reviews provides good input for your weekly or biweekly updates.\ \ Here’s a free customer service 1:1 meeting template to get you started and organized. Also, check out Valentina Thörner’s advice on remote tools and hacks. As an experienced remote leadership trainer and the Head of Product at Klaus, she knows her stuff!
Constructive feedback will help you improve your customer service quality and CSAT week after week. If giving honest feedback feels (slightly) uncomfortable, use these tried and true feedback techniques that help you deliver your messages in an efficient and tactful manner.
Note that though we really believe that support teams need more negative feedback because it’s good for them, we also encourage managers to give lots of neutral and positive feedback, too. “That’s fine, continue” is great feedback that reassures that your agents are doing everything right. Regular conversation reviews are the easiest way to implement that in remote customer service teams.
When your customer service team has (suddenly) switched from a close-knit team operating in a common office space to socially distant home offices, your team’s communication could easily collapse. If your team is used to having face-to-face discussions, then this might be the most efficient way to get things moving when collaborating with fellow agents or other departments.
Here’s how to make customer service communication work when operating remotely:
- Hold regular online product update meetings to keep your support agents in the loop of what’s happening in product development. Make sure to cover all of the recent changes made to your product as well as the updates planned for the near future. Keep a solid changelog and share it with your support team, too.
- Use a central tool for reporting bugs and feature requests to make sure that none of your customer feedback slips through the cracks. Check out Canny, Instabug, and their alternatives to manage communication flows from support to product and engineering teams.
Create a team chat space for all work-related (and non-work-related) discussions. Tools like Slack, Teams, and Discord offer neat solutions for that. Create separate channels where agents can reach out for help, discuss their cases, share customer insights, etc.
Make sure to have some fun in your internal communication channels, too. For example, just like Help Scout, Klaus now has an #office channel where remote employees pretend to work together in the same office. Signing birthday cards for make-believe colleagues, looking for missing office equipment (and coworkers), and arguing about kiwi peeling is a fun way to unite remote people.
Keeping your daily remote support life similar to how it was when you worked together in the same building can help your team maintain their service quality. Think about all the ways your agents have become used to talking to each other and other teams, and find technical solutions to foster the same communication at a distance.
Customer satisfaction is fragile. If your support team’s switch to remote work doesn’t go smoothly, your CSAT can drop dramatically.
The success of your support team’s remote work depends on how well you manage to reorganize their communication flows into online tools and how fast you can set up your conversation review program. Regular support QA gives you insight into what’s happening in your customer interactions and helps to improve your service quality with agent feedback - a crucial instrument for controlling your support quality.
If you’re looking for a support QA and conversation review software that is easy to set up and maintain, check out Klaus.