[This article was written by Gabby Rolette.]
There’s no denying that there has been a surge in the desire to work from home for years now. A 2019 study found that 81% of workers believed they would be happier if they had the ability to work from home. With the recent Coronavirus pandemic surging through the world, and 45 states already issuing Stay at Home policies, these wishes are being granted. The struggle now falls on small businesses placing proper protocol to ensure there is no drop in customer service, productivity, and overall workflow. Thankfully, with all of the technology we have at our fingertips (CRMs, Virtual Receptionists, Videoconferencing, Messaging Apps, Text, Email) what once seemed impossible is much more doable, if not, simple.
The first step in successfully servicing your clients from home is having a proper work station. Many of us went from having our own desks with all the trimmings to rolling out of bed and being in our “Work Space.” The issue here is a lack of separation from work and personal life. Understanding that you will have a few additional distractions (Kids, Pets, Landscapers, etc.) means finding a proper solution.
- One way to separate this is to clear out a specific room in your house that you don’t currently use for other activities (Even a section of a room that you currently use) and convert this to your workspace. Although it feels nice to roll out of bed and be at work, this can easily lead to both unproductivity during work hours and a never-ending feeling of work after hours.
- Another great way would be, setting up a call center service. Acting as a front-end intercept, these agents can make sure your business sounds fully functioning before passing off important calls, presenting a security to your customers that everything is being handled professionally.
- The last and hardest step is personal accountability, although these distractions often take precedence over whatever else is going when you’re off work, working from home is a bit different. Remembering that certain hours of your day are dedicated to work and that you will still have the same amount of time to handle the rest, as you would any other week, can help refocus your energy to the tasks at hand.
The second and potentially more important point is making sure your team is connected and engaged. Much like the work space, we are going from being able to tap Greg on the shoulder and asking a brief question to being miles apart from each other. Although this can feel daunting and often lonely, there are a myriad of different solutions to handle it.
- Video conferencing using sites like Zoom and Skype ensure that your team is engaging on projects, and checking in with each other. This also allows you to account for as much of their work day as you can while apart. An additional positive of using these sites is the ability to meet with your clients virtually to check in on projects, make updates, and start new orders.
- Depending on your office life, texting may feel intrusive to your workers’ personal life (if not, disregard this section). If this is the case, setting up a messaging app like Whats App can help to keep everyone connected without feeling intruded by work.
- If Text and Email are an option, utilizing these tools can drastically improve your customer service response time and improve customer retention with the feeling of 24/7 access. Additionally, you will realize that some meetings REALLY could have just been an email.
- Lastly, making sure your CRM is clean, up to date, and accessible can make viewing cases, handling issues, and general workflow simple and easy. With tools like Salesforce, your sales and support team can easily be on the same page as far as which customers need help, which are looking to set up service, and everything in between.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like our new reality will be ending anytime soon. In the meantime, we must adapt and do everything in our power to continue moving forward. Utilizing some of the steps mentioned above, hopefully we can begin to move back towards some semblance of normalcy at least in business as our social lives are put on hold. Who knows, maybe we come out on the other end with completely new business structures that work better than before!
Gabby Rolette is from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and writes for the SAS call center blog. She loves reading and writing, but when she’s not at work you can find her helping animals or spending time with her nieces and nephews.
Twitter handle: @SpecialtyAnswer