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On-site vs Remote Customer Service

The Internet made working remotely really easy. 70% of the global workforce works remotely at least once a week, IWG finds.

On the other hand, there are people like Marissa Mayer with her remote work ban in Yahoo. Is she overreacting or was her decision right? Most importantly, can remote work be the future of customer service?

The benefits of on-site customer service

Having your customer service team on-site is the default option that many companies go with. Here are the benefits of having it this way.

1. Easy onboarding

Onboarding new members of the team is really easy when your department is situated in the office building. It goes beyond simply giving documentation to employees.

If the veterans of the service and team leads work feet away from newcomers, it’s easy to help each other out.

2. Firm management

Do your team leads prefer to have close contact with the team? Having all the members in one physical location makes it easy to manage them.

Team leaders can point out mistakes and praise employees immediately.

3. Communication

On-site customer service department may prove crucial for the development of a new product. All bugs that customers report can be put to a meeting and discussed either formally or informally.

4. Flow of ideas

Few great ideas are born on the Trello boards. Some are born during meetings with a whiteboard.

The best ones are born when great minds meet for a cup of coffee and discuss possible solutions to the problems they have. This is simply not an option for remote teams.

When to use on-site customer service teams

Whether your team works remotely or on-site, they can get access to all the relevant data they need.

1. Initial stages of development

If you have only launched the product, you need as much feedback as you can get. An on-site team can be crucial for making a new product great.

Ideas will flow both on meetings and in the cafeteria as your team members will discuss the challenges they face.

For instance, companies like Weebly (a website builder) have remote support teams but were made great with the help of on-site ones.

The customer service team will have more connections with the development department. As a result, the product will gain new features that users need.

2. Special products

Some products only need ongoing management of similar issues. Some need close contact between customer service and the IT team.

If you own a product that needs immediate attention to certain issues, on-site customer support can be the only option.

3. Early stages of customer support

Managing a remote support team requires having guidelines and scripts of dealing with clients that work every time. If you didn’t work out the best way to go about it, you have to learn on your mistakes.

The optimal solution for quick learning of the whole team is having them in one office building.

How to make on-site customer service team work

An on-site customer service department can be a benefit to your business. But only if you can manage it efficiently. Here is what you have to focus on to make the most out of it.

1. Encourage informal interaction

Make sure the atmosphere at the office is friendly. If you achieve this, your employees will talk to each other and form bonds.

The result is both great team spirit and great ideas.

2. Mentor

You have the opportunity to talk to your employees in person. Don’t waste it.

Point out mistakes, praise achievements, and mentor your team members. They will become more professional and more attached to their leaders, making them invested in the company.

What kind of employees do you need for on-site customer service

Not all people can stomach daily commutes and working in an open space. When you’re hiring people for on-site positions, look for the ones who:

  • Struggle with self-motivation
  • Don’t mind the commute
  • Enjoy the company of others
  • Seek mentorship

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The benefits of remote customer service

More and more companies are preferring to have customer service team work from home. Here is why they do that.

1. Lower cost

While some big corporations can afford to build office complexes with childcare and entertainment on-site, most can’t.

Decrease the overhead costs by inviting people to work remotely. The savings will be worth it.

2. Less employee stress

There’s a debate on whether employees work more productively on their own or in a team. Almost a hundred years ago, Floyd Allport proved that being accompanied by other people boosts productivity.

His findings are relevant today because the culture of coworking thrives. Perhaps, we’re simply less likely to indulge in social media instead of working when we see other people work.

One fact is indisputable, however. Commuting is not fun. A British study found that adding 20 minutes to the commute takes the same toll on job satisfaction as getting a 19% pay cut. Lower job satisfaction means lower productivity.

With remote work, that’s not an issue.

3. More talent available

On-site positions are only available to people who live within a 45-minutes’ ride distance. Remote work is accessible by anyone.

Open remote positions, and you will onboard talented workers from all around the world.

You will see more applicants from all generations as well. It’s a myth that millennials are the only ones working remotely. In fact, the average age of a person working remotely is 45 years.

4. Connectivity rarely suffers

Working together in one space is great for generating ideas and changing the product for the better. When it comes to productivity, however, very few aspects suffer in remote teams.

You manage and monitor most of the tasks in software anyways. If the people who do these tasks open software from their home, barely anything changes.

On-site vs Remote Customer Service

When to use remote customer service team

You already know when on-site teams shine. Here’s when remote customer service employees are at their best.

1. The routine is established

When your management already has everything figured out, there’s no need for an on-site team. When you have chosen cloud-based email marketing tools and live chat software, the actual work can be done remotely.

2. You sell products to a different region

There is no sense in having an on-site team deal with customers from a different region. Apart from the time-zones, there’s the question of language and culture.

Hire a team of remote workers from the region, and they will deal with customers more effectively.

3. 24/7 support

If you need customer service to work the whole day, there’s no other option than a remote team. At the very least, your night shift will have to be remote.

How to make remote customer service team work

Remote teams don’t come without some troubles in management. Here’s how to make the most of them.

1. On-site team lead

Hiring the team lead of the remote team to work on-site erases all the problems with department communications. They will keep everybody posted about the major problems your customers are having.

Team lead can monitor hours and performance of each remote employee as well as the office ones with software.

2. Onboarding procedure

When there’s no room for micromanaging employees, your onboarding has to be perfect. Create guidelines that cover everything a newcomer may need and be sure to support them if they need.

3. Virtual space for team working

Your remote team can’t go out after work to socialize. That doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to do so.

Create an off topic chat for the team to let them get to know each other.

What kind of employees do you need for remote customer service

Not all people will be at their best when working from home. Hire these types of people to your remote team to make it efficient:

  • Self-motivated workers
  • Established professionals
  • People who respond to your messages fast
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