At Yarno, we pride ourselves on providing top-notch customer experiences and that means delighting the customers at all stages.
This can be difficult when working remotely – how do you get that excellence across a digital medium? Add to that the communication issues that often arise when you don't see who you're speaking to face-to-face. And if you're like me – a cultural minority in the team – you have to work twice as hard to get on the same page as team members and customers alike.
Thankfully, I’ve been very lucky to have an inclusive and welcoming workplace, so the adjustment has been pretty easy.
Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way for delivering excellent customer service while working remotely:
1. Know What Your Customers Want.
When I first applied to Yarno, I knew that the cards were stacked against me. Before I was hired, team members had to be based in Australia.
But when I saw the job posting on LinkedIn and learned more about the company, I knew that I would be a great fit. I liked what it stood for - and I loved that they were fans of Ted Lasso.
During my application process, I think that it took some time to convince Lachy to give me a chance. I mean, it took a whole month - 3 interviews, multiple Zoom calls (it was the longest month of my life!). But, I would like to think that what got him to rethink his decision was the fact that I wasn't selling myself and my qualifications as much – instead, I was telling him what I could do for the company once I am hired.
In some ways, I think he recognised that I had what it took to be in Customer Success Support – I knew what he (as the customer) needed and I gave it to him.
I wasn't as pushy, and I wasn't as sales-y. I just provided value, showed up, and poof! Yarno got me on board and now I’m here.
Remember, to provide excellent customer service, you have to focus on what the customers want.
2. Respect Each Other’s Differences.
One of the things I love most about working at Yarno is the diverse culture. Everyone respects each other – whether it be fellow teammates or customers.
That’s how I knew that this would be a good company to work for: if the people in the organisation can support each other, then they are capable of supporting customers’ needs. It always has to start from within.
A big part of that is how team members at Yarno seek to understand, not to be understood.
3. Communicate Effectively.
Communication is one of the challenges of remote work.
Because we use different channels, it requires a lot of patience and planning to prevent everything from getting lost in the fray. Also, because we come from different cultures and backgrounds, it’s also important that each team member understands what the other person is trying to convey – this sometimes requires over-communicating to ensure that the message is understood.
Some tips for communicating effectively:
- Choose a few communication channels. We have Asana (for more detailed, thorough instructions), Slack for [quick updates], and Zoom for video meetings.
- Never assume. One of the most important customer service lessons I’ve learned is to never assume because we all understand things differently. One handy tip I’ve picked up is to repeat what the other person said using your own words to check if you’ve really understood what they said. Paraphrasing is key!
- When holding meetings, have an agenda. Communicating regularly does not always equate to communicating effectively. If you have weekly meetings without an agenda, you'll be having discussions that go around in circles and wasting everyone’s time that they could’ve used working on something else. At Yarno, we make sure our scheduled weekly Zoom calls have an agenda.
- Practice courageous feedback. At Yarno, we always aim for the best, that’s why we give and receive feedback courageously. When we give negative feedback, all team members know it’s not a personal attack. It means that each team member is encouraged to give a feedback on a specific scenario to help the receiver understand and get something from the feedback that is given. This gives everyone psychological safety to speak out and give suggestions. According to a McKinsey study, organizations where candor and radical honesty are encouraged innovate quickly, unlock the benefits of diversity, and adapt well to change.
- Listen. There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth: so we can listen more. Listening is an underrated but useful skill, especially in customer service. A lot of times, grievances can be solved quickly when we listen to the people we’re communicating with.
4. Take Care of Your Team Members.
Working with customers and dealing with their issues can be rewarding, but it can also be draining at times.
People who work in customer service are naturally sociable and outgoing. When Yarno shifted to a remote working model, we lost opportunities to interact and trade stories in person. Thus, it was important for us to find other ways to foster team spirit and motivate everyone.
Here are some things that we do:
- Have regular team bonding sessions. On Friday afternoons, we have our weekly Morale Symposium – and by morale, we mean “More ale” (aka more beer 🤪).
- Recognise team members’ contributions. We have a platform called ‘Small Improvements’ that we use to give feedback, praise, and thanks to our fellow Yarnoers. Even the smallest efforts don't go unnoticed.
- Encourage team members to take breaks. One thing I love about Yarno is that team members are encouraged to take care of their mental health. Yarno offers employees two doona days a year, for when you're just not feeling it, no questions asked. Mental health used to be taboo, so I’m glad more workplaces are addressing the issue.
Happy employees breed happy customers.
5. Keep Learning.
I share this last piece of advice not because Yarno is a microlearning company, but because the world we live in constantly changes and nothing is set in stone.
As the first Filipina in the Yarno team, I learned and continue to learn a lot not just about the company and its products, but even about dealing with people of different cultures. I’m very lucky and grateful that the company gives me space to fail forward.
As a microlearning company, Yarno walks the talk. Everyday, I also see my colleagues rethinking assumptions and learning something new. (I mean, that’s how I got here!)
Delivering excellent customer service remotely can be challenging, but working in a microlearning company has encouraged me to continue improving my skills and embrace learning from the small day-to-day moments.