Working outside the office and being able to choose your working environment are among the main perks of remote work, also known as teleworking. This type of work setting is especially convenient for customer service teams.
And, in order to be productive when working in a remote customer service team, the first thing you need to think about is how to organize your workday and your schedule. Time distribution and time management can help you do so.
So, without further ado, lets jump right in!
What is time management?
By definition, time management is the capability to use your time effectively. Time distribution includes making and arranging plans, as well as managing the time we spend on particular activities.
Proper time allocation is important because:
- It prevents you from wasting time on irrelevant activities.
Let’s face it, working out of the office relaxes. It seems like we can afford to watch one too many cat videos on YouTube and take our time drinking tea in the kitchen. After all, there is no one to control you. But this pace is dangerous, as it makes us lose the track of time and, as a result, we might miss a deadline or two.
Irrelevant activities are enemy number of efficiency and time planning. That is why it is important to follow your schedule to a tee and never allow yourself to be distracted by irrelevant tasks.
- It helps you pay attention to your priorities.
Once you know what your priorities are, you’ll be able to make the list of urgent and important tasks. These are the ones you should do first — check emails, tickets, chat massages and possible social media requests from the customers. Look at this as at a starting point of your work day. It will help you keep track of your responsibilities as well as give a feeling of being organized.
It is not all so cut out and dry
When working in a telecommuting customer service team, one comes face to face with quite a few challenges. Here are two of the most common issues, which can sometimes get in the way of a perfect workflow:
- Multitasking — you need to focus your attention on various questions that customers send by various means (chat, email, social media, etc. sometimes all at the same time). This can influence the quality of your work as well as overload your workload. This, in its turn, is going to reflect on your effectiveness.
- Being in the dark — you never know what kind of problem you’ll get from your customers and when you might get it. Thus, you might need 10 minutes to solve an issue or you might get stuck with a 2-hour-task. Not being fully in control of your time might really mess with your schedule and agenda.
Time management tips for remote support team manager
There are many difficulties that remote team leaders are facing. For instance, managing and delegating tasks virtually, without being able to have the whole team in one office. But, the following tricks can make your job much easier.
1. 📜 Set up projects effectively
When planning a new project for your remote customer service team, be sure that all your colleagues are on the same page. As a team leader, you should:
- set up project goals and present them to the whole team;
- let your team members know what their part of the workload will be;
- share all the necessary documents and tools with the team.
Arranging a project may be simplified if you use a SMART technique:
Specific — precisely determine what you want to achieve.
Measurable — define concrete criteria to track the progress of a project.
Attainable — be sure that your goal is possible to obtain.
Realistic — set realistic and relevant goals.
Timely — always set the starting and ending date of your project.
Once you have informed your customer support team about an upcoming project, they’ll be able to act accordingly. Thus, they will have a clear picture of a project and will be able to provide the necessary details to the customers.
2.🤝 Have regular meetings with the team
Managing a teleworking team means managing a group of people who are located all around the globe and not in the same office.
The best way that all team members stay up to date with everything that’s important is by having regular meetings. As a manager, you should arrange various types of meetings:
- Daily meeting — this brief meeting should be set at the begging of the day, to ensure everything runs smoothly.
- Weekly meeting — within a team, or weekly one-on-one meeting (with every teammate). The goal of these weekly meetings is to solve any issues that may occur.
When working from distance, meetings are a great way to solve any customer support concerns you may have, such as, for example, confusing questions from the customers.
3. 🏆 The importance of giving timely feedback
Providing your team members with timely feedback is truly important. If it’s a positive evaluation, it will motivate them to keep up with the good work. On the other hand, negative feedback is valuable because your colleagues will be able to see their weaknesses. So, they will know if they need to correct their performance.
But, finding the right way to criticize your team members isn’t always easy. Keep in mind the following:
- be specific and try to give a concrete comment about someone’s actions. Let your colleague know what your suggestions are. That’s an ideal way to make this situation more pleasant for him/her;
- think about your wording. Instead of saying “You shouldn’t”, use supportive sentences such as “Maybe you could try.”
Time management tips for support team members
Multitasking and working with different types of queries from your customers might be making your job more difficult. Although you can’t prevent such issues, you can organize your day so that you finish other tasks straightforwardly. Here’s what we suggest.
✅ Create a to-do list every day
Distance working sometimes means that you also have flexible working hours. To make the most of your work time and avoid wasting it, you should create a list of tasks for the current day. That way, you can divide your workload into several assignments and know exactly what you’re supposed to do.
Your to-do list should contain:
- all your urgent and important tasks — these should be on top of your list;
- less important tasks — these can be done at the end of the day.
Keeping a to-do list is a great way to stay on track with your tasks. This is especially helpful in moments when you’re out of focus, due to multitasking or similar reasons.
You can either write down these assignments in the morning, before your workday starts or the night before.
💻 Set up a productive space
One of the benefits of telecommuting is that you can do your job from home, a coworking space, a library or any other place.
If you fancy working from home, you should pick a separate room or at least a quiet corner in your house and make it your little office. Going to that exact spot every day will encourage you to stay focused and be productive. Be sure to put away any distractions — a tablet, books or anything that can divert your attention.
📝 Try using a timesheet
A timesheet is a report that shows the amount of time a person has spent working on a certain project or for a certain client. A timesheet always tracks a fixed period — it can be a day, a week or a month.
How does the timesheet work? You need to fill it out by entering the time you invested into your working process. Also, you can add all additional details: the time you spent working on a specific project or for a specific client.
So, why should you use timesheets?
Timesheets are an ideal way to organize your time better and increase your productivity. Thus, you’ll have the capability to figure out all unexpected errors your customers are experiencing. Remember to add these tasks and their duration to your timesheet, too.
General tips that will help you manage your time while working remotely
Besides the tips we’ve already covered, there’s another way to plan your workday — by using time management techniques. Every technique contains a set of standards you need to adopt so that you can be more effective. Here are a few methods that can help you systemize your customer service assignments, no matter if you’re a team leader or a team member.
The Kanban technique was created in the 1940s in Japan, by Taiichi Ohno. The goal of this method was to raise productivity levels of Toyota Automotive employees.
You can quite easily use the Kanban method. Here’s how: you need to choose the number of stages (columns) in your project. Next, create these columns. For instance, the columns can be ‘backlog’, ‘to-do’, ‘doing’, ‘done’. Once you finish the task from the first column, you can move the cards to your next column and so on.
How does the Kanban technique assist you in managing time? The Kanban method gives you a visual representation of your project’s progress. This way, you’ll know how much work you’ve done and what you still need to do.
The idea behind the timeboxing technique is to split your time into working sessions (timeboxes). There are several versions of the timeboxing technique.
For example, the Pomodoro technique. This method consists of a 25-minute session of work, and a 5-minute break.
When it comes to time blocking and timeboxing, the time of the sessions isn’t fixed. Therefore, you can choose how much time you’ll dedicate to one work session. Here’s an example of a timeboxing table that contains timeboxes with different time frames (an hour or more).
How does the timeboxing technique help you manage time? Having a fixed time for work (a session) stimulates you to stay focused.
The Eisenhower technique
The tasks in the Eisenhower technique are labeled according to their priorities. So, the tasks can be: important/not important, and urgent/not urgent. This method was named after the American president Eisenhower.
Here’s how it works: you need to divide your tasks into 4 quadrants:
- The 1st quadrant: Important and urgent tasks. You should do them immediately
- The 2nd quadrant: Important, but not urgent tasks. You should make the plan to do them later
- The 3rd quadrant: Tasks that are not important, but are urgent. You should delegate them to your colleagues
- The 4th quadrant: Tasks that are not important and not urgent, these should be erased.
How does the Eisenhower technique assist you in managing time? It gives you a clear vision of what tasks you should delegate or eliminate.
Time allocation is a crucial way to determine your priorities and stay productive when telecommuting in a customer support team. Besides, time management techniques can be truly handy as well. So, if you’re struggling with organizing your time, we’re sure you’ll find these tips quite helpful.
This post was written by Nikola Radojcin from Clockify.