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Building Your Remote Customer Service Team

The COVID-19 pandemic forced plenty of companies to consider remote work, a setup that was previously frowned upon. While many companies worried about the levels of production at the start, it was soon made clear that employees performed as efficiently as they did at their offices.

 

If your company wasn’t negatively affected by the new working arrangements, then it would be in your company’s best interests to push through with a remote working setup. You will see your customer service team’s performance continue to hold steady, if not even increase in effectiveness.

 

However, just pushing through a remote setup without any idea how to successfully build an effective team will only negatively affect your company. Understand how successful remote offices function and see how these practices can work for your company’s specific situation.

This piece will present you with techniques that can help your company move on from a traditional office environment. Our tips will give your company a clearer picture on the specific challenges that come with remote office arrangements and how you can prevent such hurdles from negatively affecting your customer service workflow.

 

N Pointers to Help You Create a Successful Remote Customer Service Team

 

Hire the right people for the job

 

Working from home requires a specific kind of mindset from employees. Not everyone can manage their professional and filial duties while at home. When you’re building a team to handle your customer service requirements, they must be able to work on their own without heavy supervision.

 

Moreover, the most suitable candidates should also be able to use their own computers if your company won’t be able to immediately provide your employees with proper equipment. This way, the quality of their work won’t be compromised by their limited hardware.

 

Select the perfect customer service software

 

Once you have the perfect group of individuals set, the next step would be to pick the most suitable customer service software. There are plenty of programs available in the market, so it may be tough to figure out which one fits like a glove to your company’s specific needs.

 

A quick checklist of features you want out of the best customer service program for your remote CS team should include the following:

 

  • Shared inbox
  • Comprehensive ticketing software
  • Analytics
  • Note sharing
  • Collision detection
  • Cloud-based

 

Establish reasonable KPIs and monitor your team

 

Your CS team’s key performance indicators (KPI) are one of the facets you don’t expect to stay the same during the transition to remote work. Since remote employees face different challenges, it’s best to adjust your KPIs accordingly. 

 

Make sure that all the goals you set for your remote teams are achievable within the time frame you give them. Moreover, monitor these metrics and coordinate with employees that fail to make the mark.

 

Here are some of the KPIs that you can monitor your remote customer service team with:

 

  • First response time
  • Customer satisfaction index
  • Net promoter score
  • Minutes spent on call
  • Total tickets to resolved tickets ratio
  • Top support agents

 

Set up an internal knowledge base

 

If your company is just starting out on remote work, it’s vital to create an internal knowledge portal as quickly as possible. Since your employees won’t be able to immediately consult with their immediate superiors on certain issues, it’s important to have a base database for them to quickly refer to.

 

This database should include the answers to the most common questions customers ask, the most common terminologies used, and guides to your business’ products and services. Make the database easy to understand so your customer service staff can properly do their work.

 

Maintain clear communication lines

 

There will come a situation where a customer has a question that isn’t immediately answerable by the database. Avoid any potential trouble that might spew out of this situation by establishing clear lines of communication between managers and staff.

 

There are multiple approaches to creating good communication between your remote team and managers, but the most important thing is establishing these lines in the first place. Also check in with your team every now and then to see how they’re doing and figure out if there’s any way you could help them.

 

Consider outsource work

 

 If your business boomed during the pandemic and your CS team just can’t handle the influx of tickets, then it’s time to consider getting help from an outsourced customer service team. Companies that provide outsourcing services have skilled individuals with the right equipment to do the work properly.

 

If you choose to tap into outsourced services, it would be good to have them correspond with your in-house customer service team to speed up the induction process.

 

Benefits of Remote Customer Service Teams

It may seem counter-intuitive, but there are actual benefits to making the shift to a remote customer service team:

 

  • Increased efficiency. Since your customer service team will spend less time commuting to work and handling on-site distractions, they can be more efficient with their work.
  • Pay less vacation days. Companies that have remote customer service setups will notice that fewer people file for vacation leaves since they’re less stressed compared to an on-site setup.
  • Lower costs. You don’t have to maintain a large office space just to house your customer service teams. The savings you make here can be used elsewhere in the company.
  • Bigger talent pool. Since you don’t have to limit the size of your CS team to your office, you can hire more talents to resolve outstanding tickets your existing team can’t immediately respond to.

 

Successfully Build Your Business Away from the Office

 

The situation may have forced our hands, but it’s now clear to everyone that a remote setup works. It’s all about creating an ideal environment that suits your company well. As long as you prepare for every conceivable problem that may spring up, you can turn remote customer service work into a big edge for your company.

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15 Best Leadership and Management Quotes of All Time

Countless books have been written on the art of leadership and management. Billions of dollars have been spent by students pursuing college degrees in management. However, we believe that the heart of good leadership and management can be found in the quotes below. Enjoy these amazing leadership and management quotes and please feel free to leave any that you think we missed in the comments!

"Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to."
Richard Branson
Richard Branson
"To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart."
Eleanor Roosevelt
"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
Warren Buffett
Warren Buffet
"Don’t hire a copycat of yourself. Look for people whose skills are the opposite of yours. Dare to emphasize your weaknesses."
Diane Janknegt
Diane Janknegt

"Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people."


Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy
"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity."
Sun Tzu Free
Sun Tzu

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

Dwight D Eisenhower
"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm"
Publilius Syrus Quote
Publilius Syrus
"What gets measured, gets managed."
Peter Drucker
"Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all."
Dwight D Eisenhower
"If you want to build a boat, do not instruct the men to saw wood, stitch the sails, prepare the tools and organize the work, but make them long for setting sail and travel to distant lands."
Antoine De Saint-Exupery Quote on Management
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
"He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander."
Aristotle Image Quote
Aristotle
"Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet" 
Henry Mintzberg Management Quote
Henry Mintzberg
"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."
Publilius Syrus Quote
Publilius Syrus
"Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people."
John D Rockefeller Quote
John D Rockefeller
"The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t."
Anthea Turner Leadership Quote
Anthea Turner
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The Software FreeeUp Used to Manage the 45 VAs in Their 8 Figure Business

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Outsource School founders Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan grew their company, FreeeUp, from an initial $5,000 investment into an 8 figure per year business in less than 5 years by leveraging a team of virtual assistants.

By the time that Nathan and Connor sold FreeeUp in 2019, they had 35 full time VAs and 10 part time VAs. 

Here are the software products that Nathan and Connor used to make everything work.

1. Google Drive for File Sharing and Collaborating

Google Drive is one of the most underrated softwares on the planet. 

At FreeeUp, Nathan and Connor used Drive in a number of ways…

I don’t know why people insist on installing bulky software products like Word, PowerPoint, or Excel when they could use Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. 

Google’s options all work in the cloud which means easy sharing and collaborating, which is perfect for using with teams of VAs. 

 

Google Drive for Managing Teams

2. LastPass for Sharing Credentials

When working with a large team of VAs, you’re going to need to share a lot of account access. 

Things like…

LastPass makes it easy to store and share access to your accounts with your team.

Although Nathan and Connor trust all of their VAs with their information (they told me that they would only hire VAs they’d trust with their social security numbers) some business owners feel uncomfortable giving their VAs their credentials. 

 

If this sounds like you, LastPass allows you to share account access without revealing your passwords. 

3. Trello/Jira for Project Management

Jira and Trello are similar, but different. 

Jira is the project management tool that FreeeUp used to manage their off-shore developers and their quality assurance specialist while Trello was used primarily for managing their designers. 

Jira is more specialized for development type workflows and it was the one that the entire development team wanted to use.

ConnorGillivan-NoBackground

We had 3 separate boards. The first for Bugs. As bugs were reported by customers, they were put into the Jira Bug board and assigned to one of the developers. The second was for Features where we’d assign new software features to the developers and they would keep things updated as they worked on it. Third was a board for New Ideas where we’d store new feature ideas that were either suggested by customers or that we had thought of ourselves. It was great having Jira because at any time, I could easily go to the Jira boards and see what was going on, who was assigned to it, and where it was in the process of being completed.

Connor Gillivan

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FreeeUp Co-Founder

Trello is a bit more user friendly and “ready out of the box,” than Jira.

Trello was FreeeUps go-to app for managing their graphic design team and for other one-off projects that required bringing together multiple VAs from the company. 

With their graphic designers, they set up a custom Trello board with 4 different columns. 

Trello Workflow

This simple four step workflow helped them turn complex projects into easy to manage processes.

This same flow works for any number of different processes such as marketing, content creation and more you might have in your own business.

Trello has both free and paid plans and you’ll be shocked at how far you can get with Trello for free!

4. Zoom and Skype for Meetings and Interviews

Zoom and Skype are the two softwares that Nathan and Connor used to conduct their live chat interviews with applicants and to conduct meetings with their team.

Although Zoom has premium features, your VAs can attend interviews or meetings for free. You can also record your meetings for sharing with attendees who couldn’t make it or just to have for future reference.

 

The guys said they preferred Skype though and used it much more often while using Zoom primarily for higher level meetings with team leaders.

5. Loom for SOPs and Video Demos

VAs thrive on great instructions and the best instructions typically come in the from of video recordings.

Loom is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to quickly and easily create explainer videos for your team. This is an amazing tool if you want to explain a process or critique someone’s work with clear visuals.

I can’t stress enough how incredibly helpful it is to incorporate explainer videos into your business.

 

Easily Record and Share with Loom

6. WhatsApp and Viber for Direct Communication

Whats App Logo

WhatsApp and Viber are free messaging services that make it easy to communicate with VAs if you have an emergency that can’t be resolved in an email or Skype. 

Sometimes things happen and it’s good to know that you can get ahold of your team members if you need them.

Nathan and Connor also used WhatsApp when they needed to talk to a VA but they weren’t by their computers. 

Both tools accomplish the same thing but they told me that Filipino virtual assistants typically preferred Viber over WhatsApp. 

7. Calendly for Scheduling

Calendly helped Nathan and Connor schedule times for meetings with their VAs and other business partners. 

There are a lot of scheduling/booking options but Calendly is smooth and affordable. It also integrates with other commonly used tools you might already be using like Outlook and iCloud. 

You can set availability, add reminders and ensure that your scheduling takes into consideration time zone differences.

8. Xero and Payoneer for Financials

Xero is what FreeeUp used to manage their financial records and they used Payoneer early on to pay their own VAs. 

If you hire VAs through a marketplace like FreeeUp, you don’t have to worry about using a service like Payoneer. That is all handled for you.V

Final Thoughts

Benjamin Franklin said, “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”

Nathan and Connor believe this and spared no expense to ensure they invested in the tools that helped them improve communication, manage workflow and organize massive amounts of information. 

So, do you need all the same tools they used? No, but you do need tools. 

So, pick the ones that work best for your business and remind yourself that good tools are investments, not frivolous expenses. 

Which tools do you use? Let us know in the comments!

Free Case Study

Want to learn how Nathan and Connor scaled FreeeUp to 8 figures and a team of 45+ VAs from an initial $5,000 investment using the tools mentioned in this article? Download our free case study today!