SOCAP International

7 Tips to Smoothly Onboard Remote Agents

Much of what you already do to make employees feel part of the team will need to go virtual.

Click here to access the full digital issue of CRM Magazine Spring 2015


The first day at a new job can be stressful, whether you’re working in the office or
remotely. Smart brands that employ remote workers have well-defined onboarding
programs and the experience to walk a new remote agent through it all. A smooth onboarding and training process is essential to help prepare agents to provide excellent customer service. If your brand doesn’t have a defined program or is interested in ideas for improvement, here are seven tips for a smooth onboarding process with remote agents.


1. Provide constant, clear communication.

If there is one essential element for successful onboarding, it is good communication. It doesn’t matter what format the communication takes—what matters is that it happens. Provide a roadmap of what a new agent needs to do and communicate progress, what’s next and how they can get help. Perhaps there is a centralized dashboard with all the information in one place, or a series of emails that are triggered when steps are
completed. Maintain a friendly tone to make people feel welcome.

2. Ensure the technology is in place for people to be successful.

The cloud has revolutionized remote work, and there is no shortage of technology tools available to help remote agents. Implement the right tools for the jobs to be done and train agents how to use those systems. Include some tools for web conferencing so
“face time” can be part of training sessions or meetings.

3. Offer virtual training sessions.

Whether the agent is new to the industry or just new to remote work, training is important to ensure success. Offer self-paced e-learning classes, as well as
virtual classroom sessions, so people have the option of doing the training themselves or engaging with a group—a combination of the two is ideal. Training topics can include teaching remote agents about the products or services offered, how to use the technology, sales tips, communication tips and tricks or how to handle a challenging customer. The options are nearly endless.

4. Establish a sense of community.

Working remotely can be isolating. It’s important for remote workers to feel connected and engaged. Make sure agents know they are an important part of the team. You could send a welcome email to new agents that includes photos and short biographies of each team member who supports them. It’s a simple way to put a name with a face and show that there is a team dedicated to helping them be successful. 

Another idea is to establish an online community using cloud-based technologies. It can include FAQs, discussion forums, web chat, learning games, online resources and other tools. A virtual water cooler is a good idea to allow people to get to know each other as they would face-to-face in an office break room.

5. Make it easy for remote workers to communicate with each other.

Encourage remote workers to interact with each other and with office-based staff. You could create contests or challenges in the online community or encourage people to offer best practices or advice and answer questions. Make it possible for people to
participate in simulations before taking live calls or practice with a peer. The more
people feel part of a brand and a team, the happier and more satisfied they will be—and that translates to how they interact with customers.

6. Offer multiple opportunities for feedback and questions.

Establish a virtual open door policy. Make it easy for remote workers to contact a peer or supervisor with questions. Offer surveys to determine opinions on training sessions. Monitor and engage on discussion forums. Encourage peer-to-peer support. Make sure
remote workers know their feedback is valued.

7. Be there to support, help and encourage when needed.

At the end of the day, remote workers are representing your brand, the same way employees in stores do. Customers may not see them, but their attitude and demeanor influences a phone call or online interaction just as much as an in-person interaction. Help your remote agents when they need help and offer support and encouragement on an on-going basis. 

There are always things that could be done to improve processes and onboarding is no different. Take a look at your onboarding process. Think about what can be done to make things go more smoothly and make joining the brand a bit less stressful—and more welcoming—for remote workers. Happy agents = outstanding service = satisfied customers. And that’s the ultimate goal.

Ann Sung Ruckstuhl, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of
LiveOps, drives overall marketing and revenue generation strategies across
the customer lifecycle. In this role, she has developed a unique perspective on
what is required to successfully recruit, onboard, license and deploy a community
of 20,000 independent agents for LiveOps, one of the largest and most successful work-from-home BPO businesses, and service well-known retail, financial service, insurance and health-care brands in the United States since 2000.