How to Build Trust in a Virtual Workplace
Building trust in a virtual workplace is the cornerstone of all high-performance organizations. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, high-performance companies report 50% more productivity, 76% more engagement, 74% less stress & 70% more alignment with company purpose.
In a virtual workplace, building trust has its own unique challenges. Without casual interactions at the water cooler, it becomes more difficult to build rapport. Often colleagues lose context for each others’ actions in a remote setting, unable to intuitively pick up on external behaviour influences. Finally, as is always the case, digital communication leaves room for many misunderstandings.
So how do leaders build trust in a virtual workplace?
It comes down to a number of factors. The first is kindness.
It may seem over simplified, but treating people with respect is the first step to building a trusted environment. How does this work in a virtual setting? It means allowing for flexibility, understanding that working from home may have some unique challenges and making space for that. Successful leaders carve out time to work with each employee one on one. Additionally, they set up regular weekly meetings as a team to stay connected. Not only that, they know it is important to allow time for employees to connect with each other, so they create opportunities for that.
Building trust in the virtual workplace requires competence.
Strong leadership skills like communication and transparency are key when working with a team remotely. With so much opportunity for misinterpretation, it is imperative that leaders put communication at the top of their priority list. They don’t always need to have all the answers, but they must be honest about it when they don’t. These actions build a solid foundation for their team.
Successful remote leaders possess is reliability.When building trust, it is essential to do what you say you are going to do. If you promised to send follow up documents at a certain time, ensure that you do. Stand by your commitments, try not to cancel meetings last minute, let your team know that you value their time.
They foster connectionFinally, successfully commanding a virtual team, requires creating a genuine connection. Ensuring that your camera is on for every online meeting. Looking directly at the camera emulates eye contact. Making efforts to connect ‘off-line’ via check-in texts and phone calls. Lastly, making sure your team feels comfortable to reach out when they are facing challenges without fear of repercussions.
More and more companies are veering toward a virtual model based on the current situation, but also in a more longer term capacity. Understanding the unique challenges you may face as a remote leader will ensure that you are equipped to succeed.
If you’d like assistance with building a virtual team, we can help!
The real cost of missing a callYou’ve heard us chat about this before. The real cost of missing a call, especially on the first attempt. First, it may not shock you to know that 75% of callers hang-up if they get a voicemail. However, did you realize that 85% of those callers, never call back? Obviously, the potential revenue loss is substantial, but just how substantial?
Let’s find out just how much it costs to miss a callA few weeks ago, our Director of Operations, Brandon, held a webinar about your phone line as your life line. In it, he opened with an example of the actual monetary cost to missing a call from a prospective customer. Here is the breakdown he supplied: For the sake of this example, let’s assume your average customer order comes in around $75 and the average amount it costs to take a call is $5. Using these parameters, it is pretty clear to see that the cost to missing one call is $65. However, what if that customer was actually calling to book a 12 week package, with one order per week for the next 12 weeks. The cost to take the call is the same, but the potential revenue jumps to $900. In this scenario, the cost of missing the call jumps to $895.
Intangible costs to missing a callHowever, that’s not where it ends.
Wasted Marketing EffortsLet’s start to take into consideration some of the intangible costs to missing this call. For instance, you likely spend money on various sources of marketing for your business. In most cases, this marketing is aimed at driving calls to your location. Now that you’ve missed this call, that money that you’ve allocated to promotion, is essentially wasted.
Competitor BoostSince we now know that 85% of callers do not call back, we can safely assume they have moved on to the next company on their list. If that company, your competitor, was able to take that call, then they are reaping the benefits of that new customer, including their lifespan purchases and referrals.
ReputationWhen you’re unable to manage your calls, it sends a message to your clients that you are not managing your business well enough to handle inquiries. It doesn’t take much for a potential customer to wonder if that mis-management will lead into your product or service delivery.
Lifetime Value Loss of missing a callIn our example at the beginning of this article, we broke down a few examples of potential revenue loss from a call. However, what you really need to look at is the potential lifetime loss of missing that call and potential new client. To calculate this amount, you must first determine what your annual average customer value is. To do this, multiply your average order value ($75 in our example above) by the average number of orders you receive from a single client in the run of a year. For this example, let’s assume you see this client weekly for 4 months of the year, approximately 16 orders/year. So, in this example, the annual average customer value is $1200. Now, you must determine what your average customer lifespan is. For our example, we’ll say 5 years. Therefore, the approximate lifetime value loss for a single client is $6000. That is a substantial loss for missing a single phone call. If you’re looking to up your game but having an in-house receptionist isn’t in the cards, consider hiring a virtual receptionist. Our customized service helps to bridge this gap, keeping your reputation in tact and your books in the black. Click here to get started!
When is an answering service right for your business?
It can be difficult for busy business owners to measure when it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist. The most obvious question is when does the benefit outweigh the cost? Luckily, there are several key indicators that can help determine the answer.
If your business requires the image that you’re ‘always on’ or that you have a large support system in place, missing calls can be a huge red flag for clients. As a business owner, you may not be able to answer every call that comes in. Or if you are, chances are you’ve been caught with your dog barking in the background or sounding out of breath as you run out to complete an errand. Even with a full time receptionist or support team, between sick time and vacation days, gaps will arise. If your professional image can’t afford to have missed calls, it may be time to look into receptionist support.
Business Growth Opportunities
As your productivity grows, so do your opportunities for growth. I can be overwhelming as more calls come in while you’re trying to hold everything else down. A professional answering service can alleviate the pressure of mounting inquiries, allowing you to focus on building your business. If you’ve noticed that your call volume has increased to a level you can’t keep up with, it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist.
It may seem like a frivolous expense to hire an outside company to answer your calls. However, if you look at the cost to set up a similar service in-house, it may not seem quite as daunting of an expense. Not only will it cost much less to hire a third party, your team won’t be interrupted incessantly by the phones ringing each day, lending to higher levels of productivity! So, if you’ve been thinking about expanding your support team, it may be time to consider a third-party instead.
If any of these indicators sound familiar, it might be time to take your business to the next level by working with a virtual receptionist. If you’d like a quick demo of how Smiledog works for our clients, click here!
Some say great customer service is an art. Others say it comes down to a scientific mix of character traits. We think the key elements for success lie somewhere between the two. We have put together a comprehensive list of skills, that are both developable and observational in nature. Meaning, your team can start working on these skill sets without having a natural aptitude for customer service.
For many, when they reach out to a business with an inquiry, it is from a place of confusion and sometimes frustration. Answering numerous and often repetitive client requests requires patience. Patience in dealing with clients is one thing, patience with each other and for the core of the business overall is crucial to an efficient and high-functioning organization.
This one might seem fairly obvious but you’d be surprised how easily communication styles can be misconstrued. Having consistent communication guidelines in place for your team can eliminate gaps from representative to representative. Implementing language you would like your team to use and holding regular training and role-playing will ensure that clients always receive the same level of service when they interact with your company.
Attention to Detail
Listening is one of the most important concepts behind excellent customer service. Active listening; looking for cues ‘between the lines’ will make the difference between placating a client in the moment and building a loyal client relationship for life.
Knowing the product or service they’re selling/supporting should be second nature for customer service experts. However, without proper training, many front-line representatives are left without the proper tools. Encorporating product and service training and ideals into your onboarding process will ensure a consistent knowledge base for your front-line team.
The power of positivity
Training your team on the power of using positive language will make a huge difference in how clients feel. Specific training on reframing statements from a negative perspective to a positive perspective will have a huge impact. If you’re not sure where to start, this positive language starter guide is a great resource.
Keeping your cool
While being completely unflappable can be difficult in heated situations, the ability to do so can turn a situation around in a hurry. While most interactions will likely remain civil, there are certain situations where keeping your cool is the ultimate solution. Clients will mirror the demeanour of their representative and often need that structure to see that the situation is solvable. The saying ‘cooler heads prevail’ should be the motto for your client service team.
Empowered Work Force
Giving your client service team the autonomy to make decisions on the fly will allow them to solve problems quickly and efficiently. This sense of empowerment will also give your team the confidence they need to handle situations with ease and professionalism. With proper training and role-playing scenarios, you should feel confident that your team can make decisions that reflect the values and goals of the company as a whole.
Always be Closing
Your customer service team should know that their main mandate when concluding a client interaction is their satisfaction. Clients should leave the conversation feeling that their needs have been met or will be as soon as possible. Your team should verbally acknowledge that this is their mandate and confirm with the client before ending the conversation that their needs have been met.
Having empathy for client concerns can turn a situation around quickly and efficiently. The ability to think from a different perspective will allow your team to see issues from another angle, often resulting in creative solutions that work for everyone.
Your team should understand that there is an adequate amount of time to dedicate to each issue. Sticking to those boundaries will result in more efficient conversations and a clear course of action should things veer out of scope. Finding another resource and acknowledging the inability to help is the best course of action.
If your team is struggling to reach the level of client service you’d like, we can help, reach out if you’d like more information!
It may sound like a gimmick, but believe it or not, answering the phone with a smile makes a difference. Not only that, there are scientific reasons to back it up. We believe in this so much at Smiledog, we named our company based on this premise. Today on the blog, we’re going to identify how it works.
Smiling affects your vocal tone
The acoustic effects of a smile’s stretched lips on speech changes the tone of your voice. In fact, when you’re auditory smiling, your tone is upbeat and friendly. Often the effect is so obvious that you may not even realize it until you’re smiling yourself in response!
This response is so powerful that we train our Smile Team to start smiling before they even answer a call. Try it, you’ll find that regardless of what you say, if you say it with a smile, it will have a positive outcome.
Moods are contagious
Moods are as contagious as the common cold. Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion. It is actually a three step process where one person’s feelings and demeanor transfer to another. The first stage is called non-conscious mimicry, where you mimic the other person’s actions, often subconsciously. Second, you experience the feedback from the action, meaning if you frowned you may feel sad and conversely, if you smiled, you may feel happy. Lastly, you begin to synchronize your emotions until the nonverbal cues of those around you physically alter your own behavioural state.
When customers call in a frustrated or angry state, greeting them with an upbeat and positive tone and demeanor can change the course of the call nearly instantaneously.
Smiling actually makes you happy
Having a bad day when you work in customer service just isn’t an option! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen from time to time. Research suggests that even forced smiles can boost your mood. A smile spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make you feel happier. We encourage our team to smile before, during and after their calls. Hopefully they’re mostly genuine, but if needed, our team knows they can quickly boost their mood by forcing a smile, in most cases, it doesn’t take long before they’re smiling for real.
There you have it, smiling is a simple, but effective, action that can improve your mood and in our case, also improve the experience that your customer receives. If you’re not convinced, give it a try and see for yourself how powerful a simple smile really is.