Whether in this crisis or in general, communication is critical to the success of your business. The communication stream between your frontline and upper management needs to be open. This enables your business to be nimble. It ensures your customers are being heard and your team adopts policy changes swiftly. But how do you strengthen organizational communication when most— if not all— of your team is remote?
Start by empowering your frontline managers
Whether they are team leads or supervisors, frontline managers are vital. They know what is happening with your customers and within your operations. They are often in communications with agents or their team leads. To help communication within your larger organization, empower your frontline managers. Here’s how:
1. Give managers the training to be effective at remote communication
There are many technologies that facilitate internal communications within a remote team. Your business may have Slack, Zoom, Google Meet, and others. Your managers will need the training to adapt to these tools. Yet learning how to use these tools isn’t enough. Managers need the confidence to communicate well with these tools.
Managers need to build dynamic relationships with the agents who represent your business. This is the most important role that they play. To do so, they will need to feel comfortable knowing what technology tool to use and when.
Whether they are giving feedback or having informal talks, managers need to communicate well within the constraints of modern technology. Managers may need to be repetitive and use more than one technology channel to deliver a message. How managers set up their communication style is important, too.
Dynamic communication is a two-way street. Manager communication shouldn’t be disruptive, time-consuming, or wasteful to agents. It should be integrative, natural, and consistent. Managers should also be listening and engaged in what agents have to say. They must also tune-in to what agents are saying on various channels.
Managers set the example for communication behaviors and habits in a remote setting. Their leadership and communication style should make agents feel empowered. Agents should feel comfortable reaching out to managers for support.
2. Empower frontline managers to develop and motivate their teams
Frontline managers need to engage and empower their teams. This creates an environment of open communication.
One of the ways managers can help is to involve their team members in decision making. In a remote setting, managers can do this with a simple “cc” on an email to higher-ups. They can even message the employee about how they would solve a problem.
By engaging agents in decisions, managers create an inclusive environment. Agents can learn about the strategies, vision, and values at play in your company. If agents know the reasons behind decisions, managers can entrust them to solve problems on their own.
Agents involved in decisions will also feel responsible for your organization’s success. This makes them more likely to bring up important matters in the future. It will transform them from subordinates into active leaders within their roles.
Give frontline managers a budget to motivate, incentivize, and appreciate their employees. In a remote setting, this can be a day off, a “thank you” gift card or lunch delivered to your employees’ homes. Here are ways to strengthen the bond between frontline managers and their remote teams:
- Managers should think of agents as future leaders and give them the resources to develop. Offering online training courses and supporting ongoing training helps agents progress.
3. Give frontline managers a direct line to the top
While they should consult their own managers, frontline managers should feel empowered to speak up. Frontline managers should bring up important matters to the top when necessary. This may mean having a direct line to the C-Suite.
Here are circumstances where bypassing the line of command may be necessary:
- A local crisis that can affect a current policy or needs addressing
- A local decision that puts the company, its values, its product, its operations or people at risk
- A toxic or dangerous work environment that threatens the operations and/or reputation of the company
Companies can promote a modern culture of openness and transparency. In a remote setting, this can be as simple as involving employees to “all hands on deck” virtual meetings or calls.
Executives may want to build relationships with frontline managers. They may also have an open-door policy. This helps executives learn about important customer and operational matters at the heart of your business.
To learn about how to communicate as a remote manager, check out our Managing Remote Contact Center Teams course. You’ll learn how to adjust to new technology as well as how to motivate your team.
Create policies informed by your frontline and your customers
When it facilitates communication, both virtually and in-person, your company can adapt to change. The frontline can inform and prompt the necessary response from upper management. The response may include the revision or creation of policies. While bottom-up communication is key, top-down communication is necessary, too.
Once they create a policy, the executive leadership needs to trigger its implementation. Sometimes, policies form independent of bottom-up influence. There could be legal requirements, product changes, and other influences.
Execution of policy may need frontline training. This is especially true if a policy is complex and relates to customers. Agents need to be knowledgeable as representatives of your brand. In this case, leaders need to equip frontline staff with proper training. This includes:
- an understanding of the policy and what prompted it
- how to answer customer questions
- how to process or troubleshoot any product/service changes
How The Call Center School can help
During the COVID-19 crisis, The Call Center School launched Professional Services. Professional Services helps businesses, like yours, with custom training needs. We can help you create impactful training to address a policy, strategy, or business changes. Together, we can train and empower your customer service team.