We asked seasoned service experts how they help their teams deliver exceptional service experiences while working from places like the dining room table. All while many industries continue to experience a dramatic increase in contact call volume. Our panel of service insiders includes:

Simon Walsh

Simon Walsh

COO, Retail Annuities at New York Life

Nicole Sult

Nicole Sult

Senior Director, Customer Experience Architect at Lippert Components

Shonnah Hughes

Shonnah Hughes

Global Product Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Getfeedback by SurveyMonkey

Julie O'Donnell

Here’s what they have to say.


Move to a virtual environment

Training, clear processes, the right setup, and strong communication all help service teams adjust to their new work from home environments.



Julie: “The biggest hurdle for us is training new staff without having them come on site and spend three days in-person. We are relying on near constant virtual, video meetings, and screen sharing to make it easier.”

Simon: “We're asking our work-from-home vets — about 60% of staff worked from home at least part time before the virus — to coach and mentor those new to working from home.”

Ensure a smooth transition for new and existing team members with these remote training tools on Trailhead, our free digital learning platform.


Set up and process

Nicole: “Start early and communicate often. This isn't an option when you're hit with an unexpected global shift, but it's a good time to think about how working remotely can benefit your business, your employees, and your customers.”

Julie: “Have clear processes that are well documented, easy to find, and shared through consistent channels so everyone knows exactly where to find them and what to do.”

Simon: “Get a seasoned virtual manager (a person responsible for supporting work-at-home teams) to help people with their setup — softphone, VPN, laptop, etc. — which saves tons of time and calls to the help desk.”

Check out best practices for contact center design and set up and see what Salesforce did to successfully move 2,800 global engineers to remote environments in just 16 days.



Shonnah: “We’re making sure everyone feels supported in this time of transition. Weekly check-ins with staff and bi-weekly engagement surveys help us to understand their unique needs.” 

Julie: “The hardest thing is making sure everyone stays informed up to the minute about what's going on. We use Slack channels to communicate with small teams in real-time based on role and who's on shift.”

Simon: “I send daily emails with tips and we set up a Chatter group where people post pictures of their work-from-home setups and provide other tips, tricks, and challenges. Not surprisingly, it's filled with pet pictures — cats lounging on keywords, puppies wearing headsets. You can't help but laugh.”

Hone your communication skills and collaborate successfully with remote service team members with these tips built for service managers.

Gabriela Moura's pup is hard at work
on a customer service call


Provide equipment and ensure compliance

Service teams need the right equipment to provide the kind of service customers expect, are up-to-speed on security measures, and have proper reporting in place.



Nicole: “Managing resources on a single laptop screen is certainly not ideal, especially for any length of time beyond a day. See if your company will offer to purchase an additional monitor and dock station for those who need it or were unable to transport their at-work setup to their home.”

Julie: “We have simple but vital needs: a healthy computer with a video camera, telephony service, and a headset. ConnectRN uses an added stipend to allow employees to get home office equipment, subsidizing a monitor, for example, which the employee can keep.”

Simon: “Our team needs a laptop with a good mic and camera, cell phone, VPN, headset, and dual monitors. We order everything for them and send it to their home address.”

Discover the must-have tools, technology, and equipment for an at-home workspace here.



Nicole: “Two-factor authentication is a must.”

Julie: “For us, the most important thing is personal identifiable information (PII) — how to treat it securely and delete it when done.”

Simon: “We make sure our agents use a VPN, soft keys, and remember not to print at home. We also remind them that all reports run or downloaded are being monitored.”

Learn what you need to do to protect and secure your systems and data by practicing “cyber hygiene.”



Nicole: “Our daily reports include a closer look at the activities we consider ‘normal.’ Reports help to gauge what's happening today versus what you’d expect on a normal day, such as channel volume, average speed of answer, and available time.”   

Julie: “Truthfully, I wish I had time to consume daily reports. Given the current pandemic, I'm closer to only consuming that data weekly because there is no time.” 

Simon: “We look at call center metrics (ASA, etc.), cycle times, agent performance, and backlogs.”

Find out how to make the most of your customer service data and preconfigure your service dashboards for actionable insights.


Connect the team

Service leaders are working hard to keep teams connected during this time. The biggest piece of advice? Make the extra effort to communicate regularly both on a formal and informal basis.


Team check-ins

Nicole: “We are holding daily conference calls as a senior leadership team for our entire aftermarket and IT divisions. At the local team levels, conference calls and group texting have become the norm.”

Shonnah: “Zoom, Slack, email, and project management tools help us to stay connected and keep communication flowing freely.”

Simon: “I meet twice a week with my managers and send daily emails to my team. I do a ton of Chatter posts and comments, including ‘Thank you’ notes to everyone doing great work. I also have an "open door" policy with my phone and email.”

Create high-performing remote teams with these fearless teaming best practices rooted in psychology.


Boost morale

Nicole: “Honesty and humor have been our staples. We’ve been sending funny memes back and forth and telling stories about our kids or home situations, posting pictures of ourselves in our new work space, or talking about our daily routine to normalize an abnormal situation.”

Shonnah: “We are doing virtual bring-your-kids-to-work and virtual bring-your-fur-babies to work as well as virtual happy hours and meme-offs.”

Julie: “We do Zoom gatherings that are social only — no work talk for 30 minutes as much as we can —  sharing kids, dogs, and jokes. We also have a wellness channel in Slack where we share and encourage workouts and wellbeing activities.”

Understand the importance of consistent employee engagement for your service team and overall company culture, even when apart.


Final thoughts

The best piece of advice to stay motivated? 

Nicole: “Laugh!”

Shonnah: “Try to keep up your routine as much as possible.”

Julie: “Remember what you are fighting for — everyone's health and well being! Talk to each other about your fears but also the good things that are happening.” 

Simon: “Over-communicate and stay positive. Don't go silent.”

To help alleviate high contact volume for your remote service teams, consider optimizing your self-service channels to get customers the answers they need as soon as possible.

Looking for additional tips to help your team flourish during this time? Check out our latest trailmix, Day in the Life of a Virtual Service Manager.