4 tips to manage remote teams in a service business

The service industry around the world is large and varied. From companies that provide purely service offerings to a mix of service and product offerings, the services industry accounts for more than half of the world's GDP, making it an essential portion of the economy. The industry took a huge hit a couple of years ago as Covid-19 shook the world. While organizations recovered from the losses, they also brought with them some new learnings. One of these was the advent of remote teams. Remote teams or mobile workforce essentially refers to employees who work from their preferred location and stay connected with the team with the help of the internet. The Netherlands recently became the first country to make work from home a right. As the service sector businesses embrace these changes to stay on top of the competition, it becomes necessary that you learn to adapt and overcome challenges associated with these changes at the earliest. While many services require a physical presence on the part of the customer or the service provider for the service to be rendered, there are quite a few that can be offered through online channels.

Examples of services that can be offered online:

  1. Graphic and web designing
  2. Coaching classes
  3. Therapy and counseling
  4. Consultation
  5. Digital marketing
  6. Research and analysis
  7. Travel and booking
  8. Translation
  9. Text to speech conversion
  10. Copywriting and proofreading

These and many more services that do not necessarily require physical presence can be offered online. Apart from these, many service offerings that have multiple teams across geographies, such as salons and massage parlors with a national presence may have support teams such as marketing, administration, HR, or appointment management teams that are centrally located and managing service providers on site. These teams can easily be managed remotely, if done correctly. It not only saves time and resources, but also improves the customer's experience as the service delivery time and management is improved. If you are one such business with a successful Shopify store, read on to get a few tips on managing remote teams for your service business:

Tip #1: Build a defined team structure

Define the remote team's structure, roles, and responsibilities. From work hours and working days to hierarchy, KPI's (Key Performance Indicators), and DRI's (Directly Responsible Individuals), the team must have a clear understanding of its work before the team is put together. Once you have the details down, match the required qualities in the role with the candidate before hiring. Ensure that the team members have ample overlapping working hours to build better coordination and team rapport. One of the most essential qualities to look for in a remote working environment would be the candidate's ability to interact, maintain relationships, and ensure availability throughout work hours. Since it is easy to lose connectivity in such a set up, the candidate must prove their reachability and availability through alternate channels. For example, if a candidate loses their internet access, they must proactively reach out to the team updating them with the status of their availability via a phone call or another alternative channel. Look for candidates that possess this work ethic and quality for the role. This ensures that your team's structural integrity, dependency, dynamic, and ability to get work done remains unaffected.

Tip #2: Invest in the right business management tools

The next thing to keep in mind is your technology stack. With an abundance of tools available in the market for all business activities, be it project management, customer relationship management, communication tools, collaboration tools, appointment scheduling applications, ticketing tools, and many more, it is easier to bring the team together and keep track of the activities assigned to each service provider. Ensure each service provider and management resource has been onboarded on the application. For example, let's take Appointo, an appointment management solution - a necessary tool for any service industry business. Appointo would allow your entire team to seamlessly manage their appointments on their calendars and also rearrange appointments of their colleagues in case necessary. With visibility, access controls, and automation, such tools help ease business operations managed remotely to a great extent. For centrally managed teams, integrated solutions and applications from the Shopify app store are the easiest solution to turn towards.  

Tip #3: Automate repetitive tasks

While automation sounds like a vague technology to be highlighted here, it is of utmost importance when dealing with a remote team. Since team members do not meet on a daily basis, there tend to be miscommunications, forgotten activities, and other issues. Automating repetitive tasks and setting up a workflow with notifications, automations, and priorities for the team members helps overcome day-to-day challenges and reduce major hiccups in operations. For example, automating thank you responses for every appointment scheduled or automating escalation assignments as per the query topic to the right executive brings down critical response times and benefits customer loyalty. What's more, automation can also be enabled across multiple solutions through API's and integrations for remote teams, making the entire business process a seamless system that runs like clockwork!

Tip #4: Establish a dedicated help and support team

Finally, running a remote team is bound to create issues, increase technical challenges, and more as employees adjust to the change. Setting up a grievance team or a support team specifically for remote employees, prioritizing their issues and needs, is a must. Help resources, FAQ's, How-to's and more need to be provided to the employees during onboarding. This helps the employees feel safer as they navigate through their challenges by themselves and reduces dependency on support teams.

To summarize, remote teams can be a boon for service sector businesses, if managed correctly. Ensure that the team is well-defined, well-equipped, trained, and supported to complete their tasks. The company must ensure that the team feels like a part of the organization's eco-system and culture. Once set up, remote teams would open up a whole new world of talent and opportunity for the business to explore - a potential you do not want to miss.

Mukul Chaware

Loves building products. Handling backend at SidePanda. Currently Exploring Digital Nomad lifestyle