Remote working is the way of the world now, and it is the way forward — thanks to the hybrid working model.
Most companies have adapted swiftly and embraced digitalization without hampering business operations or keeping their customers waiting. Video chats, instant messaging with collaboration tools, and tracking team progress on project management software have become the norm.
The sales team, for instance, can now generate contract terms, get approvals on any modifications to the contract terms, and have their customers e-sign key documents through contract management software.
What is contract management, you ask? It refers to how businesses create and manage contracts for their prospects, leads, and long-standing customers. Ever since offices have gone remote, contracts are being drafted, discussed, and signed online, keeping all stakeholders in the loop and without hampering the sales efforts of a business.
However, all is not hunky-dory.
Building a personal connection with your customers, for instance, becomes much harder owing to no physical meetings — and some companies overcompensate for that by keeping customer communication lines open at all hours and leading to sales and customer service teams burnout.
A whopping 67% of salespeople have experienced job burnout while working remotely and rate their stress level as 7/10. A study by the Quarterly Journal of Economics reports that remote customer service teams get through 13% more requests every day.
Naturally, overstretching your employees is not the answer. What it takes is a little adjustment from everyone, a willingness to adapt, and a shared commitment to providing top-notch service. Here, we share our top tips to help that happen.
1. Hire the right team
A remote-first sales and customer relations team requires its own skill set that is distinct from the traditional way of working. The ideal candidate should be comfortable in a fast-paced digital environment, skilled at time management, and adept at conducting conversations across multiple channels while delivering satisfaction.
They should also be self-motivated — as they will be working out of their own homes — and willing to take ownership of their role. Try to hire people who have worked remotely before, including freelancers and consultants. Hire someone who you can rely on to take care of your customers.
2. Invest in remote employee training
With in-person onboarding out of the picture, you need to enable your team to feel just as enabled and empowered while working from home. This calls for building up a top-notch repository of learning material and training videos for different roles.
According to TalentLMS, 80% of employees would like to receive training on hard skills and 53% want to be trained on their soft skills. You can, therefore, boost engagement by designing the content as a self-paced learning pathway with points and rewards.
In addition, encourage the team to reach out to the top managers for any extra help. Foster a transparent environment — one that advocates growth and learning.
3. Set clear KPIs for everyone on the team
Regardless of where you are working from, there should be clear standards of sales and customer service that everyone adheres to.
Some KPIs to work with include call volumes, closed-won deals per rep, average response time, sales tools used per rep, leads generated via different channels, customer satisfaction score, customer retention level, and the number of incoming queries.
4. Have a communication strategy for your customers
While each customer will have their own specific needs, your team should not be approaching each conversation ad hoc.
There needs to be a clear communication strategy, including email sequences, decision trees, and call scripts, that your sales team can use to deliver consistent service each time.
This not only takes out the guesswork but also gives each salesperson the best chance of giving the customer accurate solutions. Customize your messaging to current events.
5. Enable self-service for query resolution
Do you know why one out of three buyers is frustrated? Hard-to-navigate websites that make it hard to find what they need — yes. Poor quality or repetitive contact forms — sure. Having no service outside of normal business hours — most definitely!
It is rarely feasible for your human sales and customer relations team to be able to handle all the questions and complaints that come in. In this regard, a chatbot preloaded with answers to the most common questions can save you time and resolve issues faster.
According to Drift, chatbot usage as a brand communication channel has increased by an impressive 92% since 2019! In fact, almost 25% of customers now use chatbots to communicate with businesses.
Advanced chatbots can also hold human-like conversations and redirect the customer to a human agent for critical queries. A knowledge base equipped with handy tutorials and frequently asked questions is also a good investment — set up your chatbot to point customers towards the right content.
6. Let your customers know where they stand
Transparency is crucial when it comes to building customer relationships. If there are proposal building delays, product upgrades, organizational changes, or any other development that your customer ought to know about, let them know promptly, whether through a social media post or a personal email. This way, you also open up a new channel for engagement.
In a remote-first world, you need to be present for your customers when they need you, and that means being present across all the channels they are present on. It can be contextual too — sometimes they might be fine with a quick DM response, and at other times they may need a detailed chat over the phone. Pay attention to what your salespeople are saying about customer behavior and build a presence accordingly.
7. Be transparent and have regular team meet-ups
Working from home can be more isolating than one realizes. To counter this, it is important for managers to frequently check in on their teams and have 1:1 calls at intervals.
In addition, organize informal catch-ups over internal communication tools such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams to help your salespeople feel more like a family, especially new recruits.
You could play virtual games together or have karaoke matches — anything to break the ice and remind everyone that they’re all part of the same team.
Research by the Queens University of Charlotte found that 39% of employees agree they do not collaborate enough with their team members, with only 27% of employees receiving communication training.
To unite your employees, encourage small talk and allow them to get to know each other in their own way. When your employees are on the same page, it just becomes easier to deal with customer queries.
8. Keep collecting customer feedback for improvements
You will only know whether your remote-based customer service strategy is working if customers say it is. Be proactive about collecting feedback and opinions, be it through a social listening tool or direct surveys that you share with clients.
You can also use CSAT and other scores to help you gauge your performance according to certain metrics.
Over to you
In conclusion, maintaining remote-based customer relations can seem like a challenge at first, but as long as you are transparent and proactive and have proper processes in place, you can make it work.
Your sales and customer service team is your biggest asset, so make sure you are supporting everyone to perform their best. And remember — whether you are working remotely or not, stellar service and honest commitment will win customers over every time. Good luck!
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.
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