Technology, as they say, is the future. In 1995, 9 percent of people reported that they telecommuted or had done so in the past. In 2016, that number had risen to 37 percent. That number was already expected to keep growing, but recent events have caused telecommuting to spike as employees switch to working from home in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Even after the current crisis fades, experts say that it’s likely that many workers will continue to telecommute.
Perhaps your business is just beginning to dip its toes into the wave of the future—or, perhaps you already have a remote Customer Success team, but recognize that there is room for improvement in their communication or operations. Whatever the case, following a few tried-and-true best practices for remote customer success teams can make a positive impact on your team’s effectiveness.
Best Practices for a Remote Customer Success Team
Working remotely offers a wealth of opportunities for improvement and growth within your customer success team. However, it also presents some unique challenges. These best practices for remote customer success teams will help your team overcome these challenges and work better—together—than ever before.
1. Set Your Team Up for Success
If you are just getting your team set up remotely, take a moment before hitting the green “go” button and make sure your team has everything they need from day one to collaborate effectively at a distance. If your team is already working remotely, it is worthwhile to take stock of what your team is currently working with—and how it can be improved—to prevent easily avoidable issues from holding your team back.
- Have each member of the team establish a clear workspace. This may be a dedicated office or a multifunctional office/living space (i.e. a work nook tucked into the corner of a dining room). The point is to set aside space—both mentally and physically—in which they will be able to focus and work with ease.
- Discuss and develop strategies for coping with specific telecommunication challenges. Kids, pets, and noisy neighbors are common distractions, but they can be coped with. A myriad of potential solutions exist, including family discussions about office hours, closed doors, and soundproofing materials for walls or windows. Implementing even just one could go a long way toward improving your team’s overall efficiency.
- Offer training and technical support as needed. Make sure your team has the skills, knowledge, and technology they need to go about their daily tasks with ease. Make sure that the technology your remote Customer Success team is using helps scale your overall efforts.
- Encourage a healthy work/life balance. You know the saying: work smart, not hard. Encourage your team to work smarter from home through your words and by setting an example. The better their work/life balance, the more energy and motivation they will bring to the table.
2. Set Goals and Key Metrics to Follow
When employees are physically scattered, the best way to keep them mentally united and working cohesively as a team is to establish clear goals to aim for and key Customer Success metrics to follow. Having everyone working together to achieve the same outcomes helps maintain a sense of camaraderie. It also improves the overall efficiency of the team.
- Business metrics, such as net retention, highlight how your current customer engagement strategies are affecting your revenue.
- Adoption metrics, like frequency of product usage and feature adoption data, are critical to understanding how your product is being used—which can tell you what improvements can be made in order to maximize its value.
- Outcome metrics, including renewal rates and renewal risks, tell you how much value your customers are currently getting from your product and can help you strategize about what changes you need to make.
3. Emphasize Communication and Collaboration
Clear communication becomes even more vital when your remote Customer Success team members cannot simply walk down the hall to discuss an issue in person with another employee. The following strategies can help.
- Utilize a customer success platform that allows your team to effectively record, access, analyze, and act on customer data.
- Develop internal processes for effectively prioritizing daily tasks. Streamline workflows by giving team members the tools they need to analyze account history and latest activities, and get guidance on next steps. They can then determine which accounts, if any, need additional support or are at-risk and should take priority.
- Collaborate with your customers seamlessly on projects, update them on deliverables, analyze progress towards specific milestones, and assign tasks. Use Outcome Success Plans to help guide your meetings and next steps.
4. Have Empathy and Be Flexible
Transitions are always a little tricky, regardless of the circumstances under which they are implemented. Especially for Customer Success teams new to remote work, exercising empathy and flexibility can make a world of difference in how well your team adapts to new systems and processes.
- Be flexible with schedules, timeframes, requests, and deadlines. Plan ahead for potential setbacks and build in work buffers where possible to help relieve the pressure of working to tight deadlines. A positive work environment is just as important online as it is in person.
- Schedule team meetings where team members can share wins and losses, share new strategies or best practices, and discuss any challenges. Use these meetings to engage with your customer success team and provide an opportunity for human interaction.
- Incorporate social time to avoid burnout. Casual chat channels and after-hours video chats offer a chance for your employees to connect on a personal, not just a professional level, building team morale and synergy.
- Encourage regular breaks. It is all too easy for employees to get into the “flow” of work and forget to step back now and then and take a breather. Breaks are necessary for maintaining energy and focus levels throughout the day and promoting physical and emotional wellbeing. Something as simple as setting regular, automated break reminders can be a big help.
- Give team members time and space to work. Businesses that are new to remote work may be tempted to schedule constant remote meetings to compensate for the lack of regular human interaction. Resisting this temptation ensures that employees have the mental space and unbroken blocks of time they need to get real work done.
5. Create Processes to Support Individual Problem-Solving
Teamwork may “make the dream work,” but it is also vital that each member of your team feels empowered to use their individual problem-solving abilities. To optimize your team’s overall customer success workflow:
- Make customer data easy to view and share by bringing all data, from all sources, into one single access point any customer-facing team member can easily find and utilize.
- Share standard best practices from one central location with all team members for everything from renewals and escalations to onboarding. Rather than relying on a single team leader to make all of the important decisions, give every team member the chance to be the hero in their own customer success narrative.
- Scale your reach with automated campaigns. Many customer interactions are not truly one-on-one—but they should feel that way. Segmenting for customers with low adoption for a given feature lets you automate campaigns on how to get started quickly with that feature or how to get in touch with an expert who can help get it set up.
- Predict problems ahead of time and take proactive action. Monitor customer health scores and keep an eye on trends in retention and churn metrics. Above all, use customer success software that alerts your team members when a red flag arises—and lay out steps for them to take once they’ve been alerted.
Some of these practices are unique to working from home. Others are beneficial no matter what setting your team is operating in. The more of these best practices you can start putting into action now, the better off your team will be, which is why it is crucial to work with a platform that can not only support but facilitate the majority of these practices
CS Solutions for Working Remotely, Effectively
It is no secret that technology has taken over the world—the business world, in particular. Even in close quarters, employees use computers, tablets, and phones daily to share information, analyze data, automate tasks, and communicate. For a remote Customer Success team, having the right technology matters even more.
Your team’s Customer Success platform can make or break their workflow. A good solution is one that supports data aggregation, distribution, and analysis. The best CS solution is one that follows a goals and outcomes based approach to help you deliver results in an agile manner.
Your customers deserve—and expect—the best experience and value you can offer. Ensuring your team members receive the same guarantees their ability to work together to deliver above and beyond expectations, even when they are far apart.