When I managed an international team, my stateside team grew frustrated that the overseas support team did not seem to work a structured 8am-5pm schedule. At times, it was hard to know when they would be available to help.
After some investigating, we soon learned many of that team were forced to commute two hours or more by public transportation, and those commutes often involved multiple connections. When the rest of the stateside team learned of this daunting commute, they had a whole new appreciation for what their international teammates had to deal with, and resolved to better manage their morning support.
Here are some tips for how to best stay connected with and support your international teams:
Train Up on Culture
Understanding the culture of your international locations is a necessity. Becoming familiar with common themes within various cultures can improve communication and overall understanding of one another. Consider a culture training for all new hires so they clearly understand the customer base they will support, and replicate that training for your stateside resources that may be working with your international teams.
Get Creative with your Communication
Make sure you are leveraging all the tools in your toolbelt and get creative with your communication tactics. Think about how you can utilize alternate methods to communicate with the team so that they feel connected. In addition to email, consider video messages, newsletters, blogs, and surveys to keep things fresh. Also, ensure you are celebrating all the good happenings through these various medias, so the team feels the appreciation even from afar.
Make Meetings Meaningful
Take time to meet with your international teams regularly. For front line staff, you might find value in conducting quarterly town halls whereas your leadership may need daily or weekly meetings.
If you have video conference capabilities, take advantage of this. Video encourages folks to limit multitasking and can make participants have a sense of belonging. Take the time to create a structured agenda and encourage the team to lead certain facets of the meeting. Enabling the team to own part of the meeting will allow them to build confidence and take ownership. Over time, you will see the team flourish and even bring valuable ideas to the table.
Having an engaged global team is instrumental to your contact centers success. Take some time to invest is a few key practices that will encourage participation and connectivity. These minor investments can pay significant dividends over time and lead to a productive and proud workforce.
This article first appeared in ICMI.
Jessica Harris is currently a Workforce Manager for SafeAuto and is a current member of the SWPP Board. She has over 25 years contact center career experience, specializing in workforce optimization, outsourcing, technology modernization, project management, data analytics and business continuity. Outside of work Jessica enjoys family time, gardening and being a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence.