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5 Key Actions to Leading a Virtual Workforce

Given the potential both for a new normal and no real idea when we will return to the office, it is critically important to have a system for leading dispersed and virtual teams. Outcomes that are measurable with strategies to motivate and align will be more and more critical. The ability to lead without constant supervision and micromanaging will take on more importance in the coming years. There are 5 key actions to help you achieve this and drive excellence in your organization

 

Ensure you and your team are aligned

 

While strategy is important it really only accounts for 1% of performance. The other 99% will be an alignment between you and the teams you lead. To accomplish this, collaborating on your long-term vision and the actions over 3 years, 1 year and this quarter will ensure the big rocks are accounted for and moved along. These actions are measurable with clear and agreed on targets.

 

Agree on measures of success

 

These could by key process indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and key Results (OKRs). They should be measurable with clear improvement goals for the quarter and for the year. The big rocks should ensure the teams are hitting all goals for the year and if not, check whether the plan is on track or the plan isn’t working as designed.

 

Establish operating rhythms to drive accountability and provide support

 

Operating rhythms with a clear purpose and agenda will ensure progress is made efficiently as possible. Daily check ins to remove barriers, weekly team rhythms to discuss 1 or 2 big rocks and quarterly meetings to discuss strategy execution all play a key part in driving success. The goal is to provide support and encouragement to your teams.

 

Create a reward and recognition program

 

Ensure that the reward and recognition program is built into your strategic roadmap. What will you celebrate and how will you celebrate. And make it clear to your teams from the beginning of the year. By doing this you will not miss opportunities to motivate and recognize the success of your teams.

 

Establish communication channels

 

Finally, you should clearly define channels of communication and their purpose. Will your team use slack, email or some other digital tool? When will you use them and for what purpose? Should certain communication always be in person or is it ok to post on an internal slack channel? Combining this with clearly defined operating rhythms will alleviate frustration, improve performance and ensure problems are solved at the appropriate level.

 

To lead change in a virtual environment is simple but not easy. By following the 5 steps discussed and providing daily support, your teams can flourish without meeting consistently in person. And given the uncertainty of returning to an office environment, getting this right is critical to your success.

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Customer Service as the WOW factor

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience. Make certain your team is cross-trained if you sell in multiple product lines.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers. A motivated customer service team can become a revenue generating profit center with proper planning and execution.

Which these thoughts in mind you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Develop the customer service vision with your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is delivering & provide coaching.
  • Teach your customer service staff to cross sell, upsell and down sell.
  • Create visual management that has everyone focused on the goals.

Now, that you know what you want you can start thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

PS. Do not leave this blog until you have a plan of action!

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