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The How to Guide on Building a Remote Ecommerce Support Team

[By Nick Shaw, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Brightpearl]

The pandemic forced businesses to go remote. But even as normality slowly returns, the rise of online sales, helped by user-friendly platforms like shopify ecommerce, means remote sales are here to stay. 

Building a remote ecommerce support team may seem daunting. Where do you even start? Who are the best people for the job? Unlike a real sales assistant in a store, your support team needs to be skilled at assisting people remotely. Remember, your support agents will be the ones carrying your ecommerce reputation on their shoulders. Fail to prepare them, prepare for them to fail!

Luckily, building a remote ecommerce support team doesn’t need to be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together this how-to guide on building the best possible remote ecommerce support team.  

What Exactly Is a Remote Ecommerce Support Team?

Quite simply, it is a customer support team working remotely from home, rather than together in an office. 

Technology has changed the business landscape and enables many business tasks to be performed from home. From automated product recommendations to chatbots, it can all be done remotely. 

Although the pandemic has accelerated the transition towards remote work, many forward-thinking businesses have been doing it for years. Why? 

Well, there are many benefits, for example: 

- Several studies suggest workers productivity goes up when able to work from home 

80% said they would prefer to work from home 

- Employee happiness goes up

- You can employ support team members based on skill rather than their proximity to the office

- Reduces office costs

These benefits are vital for running a successful business, and more so when your business is ecommerce-focused. 

Now we know what remote support is and its benefits, read on for a how-to guide on building a remote ecommerce support team. 

Building a Remote Ecommerce Support Team

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Despite the benefits, building a remote ecommerce support team may seem challenging. But don’t worry, the following tips should help you create an organized, happy, and productive team. 

Have a Good Onboarding System

Being a new staff member can be daunting. There’s so much to learn such as new systems, new software, and company policies. Furthermore, there’s meeting your new colleagues and integrating into the team. 

All of this can be overwhelming. But a good onboarding system is going to make the process much easier for both business and staff members alike in the absence of an office. 

Have a welcome pack for new members. This could be physical and sent to their address or an online document. It’s essential new members are clued up on all aspects of your business and their role. Make sure this includes a list of software they will need to learn. 

Making the onboarding process as smooth as possible will ease anxieties. It’s also a good idea to introduce team members to each other early on so they can ask each other for help if they need it. 

Encourage Communication to Grow Your Culture

According to a study by Buffer (2019), two of the biggest obstacles facing remote workers are collaboration and isolation. In an office, this is less of an issue, but for remote customer support teams, it needs an active solution. 

The good news? There are things you can do to encourage communication and build a positive culture between your support team members. For example, managers should arrange daily meetings and one-to-ones to ensure the lines of communication are always open. Using messaging software such as Skype or Slack can provide an informal way to pop in for some support when needed. 

When using video calls, get everyone chatting casually before you begin by asking relaxed questions or even set up a mini-game to have some fun. Remember, being part of a team and working towards the same goals requires a positive working culture. 

Create a Workflow to Suit Remote Working

As we’ve discovered, remote staff members have been found to be more productive than staff in the office - but this productivity requires effective management. 

Sometimes, remote workers can feel overwhelmed working from home. This can get worse if they have been misinformed or inadequately trained. The problem is, quite often remote workers feel they can’t pester their manager for too much advice which can lead to further problems down the line. 

As a manager, create a workflow that suits your remote ecommerce support team. Break up tasks into smaller sections and regularly perform progress checks. Use helpful tools such as a purchase order template or pre-built service responses to save time. Task management tools are also great for keeping tabs on the overall picture. 

Get Feedback on Your Remote Working Policy

Even if your remote ecommerce support team has been performing well and hitting targets, getting feedback is vital. 

Regularly ask team members how they are feeling about existing processes or if they have any new ideas. This makes staff members feel valued and heard, even while working remotely. Sometimes, your support team will have unique input that originates from their own experience. 

Perhaps one team member says they’ve spent too much time answering the same query all week. Utilizing chatbots to automate a response can free up time allowing employees to focus on other tasks. 

Choose the Right Internal Tools

One of the most important aspects of building a remote ecommerce support team is using the right tools. Your internal tools will impact workflow, management, and organization, so make sure you are getting the best out of your choices. 

Some of the best tools to use are:

- Collaborative documentation tools like Microsoft Office Online or Google Suite

- Communication tools like Skype, Slack, or Google Hangouts

- A task management tool like Teamwork, Trello, or Asana. 

- An ecommerce customer support help desk with collaboration options and a shared mailbox

Using cloud-based tools is the most efficient and affordable way to go. These enable users to log in from anywhere without needing pre-installed software on their computer - perfect for remote working. 

Be careful though, having too many tools in your stack can confuse staff and lead to mistakes. Just choose the essentials that get the job done. 

Choose Good Customer Support Software 

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So, your business is booming, your sales automation software means your ecommerce practically takes care of itself. Amazing! 

However, one thing you don’t want to neglect is your customer support software. This is your hub as a support team member, and remember, customers are at the heart of any business. 

Choosing the correct customer support software will make your job a lot easier. It will also ensure you’re giving customers the best possible service. Here’s a breakdown: 

- Staff members - support tickets are easily accessed and resolved. Other support team members can take over easily if required

- Customers - queries are answered quickly and requests never get lost as they’re in one place. 

- Managers - ability to oversee operations and keep tabs on service and performance. 

Being able to manage customer issues across multiple channels using one type of software is vital in today’s ecommerce markets. If your processes aren’t up to speed, you’re going to fall behind those who already use such tech. 

Streamlining the customer support process in this way reduces stress and makes staff feel more in control not having to chase things up. Great! And to reduce stress further, integrate your customer support with an inventory management system to give real-time stock updates. 

Connect With Your Customers

Customers should be at the heart of your ecommerce business. Encouraging your support team to connect with customers works both ways. Your customers feel valued, whilst your support team feels satisfied with their helpfulness. 

A recent report found that customers prefer a friendly experience over a quick one. But to really nail down that customer support, a mixture of speed and friendliness is key. This is particularly true for ecommerce where customer support might be the only human touchpoint customers have with your business. 

You can achieve both speed and a holistic service package by implementing the right technology like with an ecommerce helpdesk or similar. These are also great for pre-sale queries when a customer is on the fence before buying. Using a helpdesk can give them a quick and friendly answer to get them on board and make the sale. 

Use KPIs To Monitor Performance 

Hitting performance targets is key to any business, especially those in ecommerce. 

Using KPIs keeps the team focused and provides them with a unified goal to work towards. Managers can offer incentives via rewards for staff members who perform consistently well. The result? Everyone wants to outperform one another and productivity increases. 

Some common KPIs for ecommerce remote support teams are:

- Customer satisfaction score 

- Response times on average

- Support tickets completed 

- First contact resolved rate 

- Overall resolved rate 

- Net promoter score 

Final Thoughts

Undertaking remote ecommerce requires a strong support team. By having a team you can rely on, customer service and satisfaction rates increase, which in turn benefits your sales. Win!

Operating a successful ecommerce business requires a strong customer support team to pull the strings. And as more and more businesses discover the benefits of remote work, it makes sense to get ahead of the game now. 

So, follow this guide, and build a solid ecommerce support team capable of bringing in those all-important product reviews.

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