Coast to Coast Customer Service

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 8.48.51 AMYou want to know something that isn’t very easy to do but is absolutely, totally doable?

Being the one person on a customer support team that works 3,000 miles away.

Now, don’t feel bad–I made this decision myself. Three years ago, this Southern California born-and-raised girl jumped on an adventure to see what it was like to live on the East Coast. I had the opportunity to move to a new city and keep the job I loved, so why not? But, with our customer support office located in San Diego and me, now living 3,000 miles away, I had no idea what types of professional challenges I would face.

My journey kicked off in Philadelphia, where I had a great friend already residing. The Phone.com office sits near Times Square in New York City. So, for two years, I lived in Philly and took the Bolt Bus to NYC, an exciting commute of at least 3 hours each way. This past September however, to cut back on commuting time, I made the leap of living in NYC and after a month, realized that I am NOT a city girl (and a wimp when it comes to winter weather). That said, I am moving back home to sunny Southern California later this summer.

I found it challenging to telecommute and work with a team from the other side of the country. You can’t just run over to someone’s desk to ask a question. You can’t be in person for meetings. You are removed from the funny, day to day happenings that build camaraderie with the team.

There is many a great tool to help bridge the gap, however. Here is a list of some that we’ve found has helped us stay connected, no matter the distance:

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a way to hold a video conference with multiple people at the same time. We use these not only for Coffee and Customer Service but also for meetings with coworkers. It’s refreshing to be able to talk and actually see the other person!

Instant Messenger

There are many Instant Messenger (IM) clients that one can use. We’ve used Pidgin, Google Chat and even the built Messages on Macs. IM allows for easy, quick chatting with your coworkers.

Phone Calls

I won’t tell you much about this, but even with all of our amazing technology to keep us in touch, there is nothing like a good old fashioned phone call to check in.

Daily Check Ins

A way to stay connected with the team, no matter where you are, is to set aside 15-20 minutes each day to meet. We have “Daily Communication” meetings where we dial into the Phone.com Conference Bridge to check in and talk about what we’re working on, any issues and just a general chat about what’s going on in our lives.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is an incredible software that helps you host meetings for the team, including screen sharing and even screen control (which is great for training). The option for web cam meetings is also a great tool to stay connected.

Join.me

Another great screen sharing and training tool is Join.me. It’s easy to invite viewers with a link to view your screen.

Social Media

Another great way to get to know your team from across the country, is via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can add each other and learn what is going on in their lives to stay connected.

So, while telecommuting from across the country is challenging, there are so many available options to stay connected, no matter where you are in the world. Do you have a tool that you use to help stay in touch with your team?

[custom_author=jenny]

 

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *