With the government advising businesses to work from home wherever possible, thousands of customer support employees across the country have suddenly found themselves attempting to carry out their jobs in a new and very different environment.
In order for home working to be a success, it’s of course vital that front-line employees are able to continue interacting with customers as usual. But it’s equally as important that team leaders have the ability to monitor and maintain the quality of customer service provided.
Provide consistent support
When service levels are under pressure, as they are now, time usually allocated to coaching, feedback and one to ones is often cut significantly.
However, while this approach may seem to drive results and efficiency in the short-term, it invariably has a hugely damaging impact on employee motivation and service levels in the long run.
Team leaders should therefore take the tough decision right at the beginning not to allow this to happen, and to dedicate as much time as they usually would to supporting their team.
Make time for feedback
Regular feedback is absolutely essential, and the most effective way of giving feedback is face-to-face. Therefore, when employees are working remotely, team leaders must ensure they are still providing feedback verbally, ideally via video call so that both parties can still read each other’s body language and get the most from the coaching conversation.
It’s also particularly important to get the balance right between negative and positive feedback when employees are working from home.
Working remotely can be quite an isolating experience, and employees may not always be clear in their own mind how well things are going, so it’s crucial to make sure they’re aware of their continuing great performance.
Don’t skip the one-to-ones
Meanwhile, monthly one-to-ones are the best opportunity to have a more in-depth discussion with employees about their performance, and to talk to them about progression and their career aspirations.
To make sure one-to-ones continue to be as effective as usual, employees must still have access to their performance results throughout the month. That way, when the session comes around, they will have everything they need to be able to have an informed, valuable conversation.
For those used to managing teams face-to-face, the shift to remote working may come as quite a shock, but there’s no need to panic. With the right tools and procedures in place, it’s perfectly possible to keep quality on track and employees engaged, motivated and providing a consistent customer experience.