As support technology becomes more advanced and companies become more comfortable with the idea of distributed teams, remote support setups are becoming increasingly common. After all, if your business serves customers in different time zones across the globe, it’s easy to see how having support agents in those time zones can be beneficial. Plus, support teams can now do their jobs efficiently without necessarily being in the same room together, as long as they have the right tools for collaboration and support.
Of course, most companies already know that their support team needs a helpdesk software. That’s a topic that warrants a separate blog post entirely — and we’ve already written it.
There are many other tools that remote customer support teams can use for communication, project management, and other important tasks. In this post, we’ve compiled 20 of the most helpful for your team to try.
Communication is essential for effective support, but can sometimes be challenging with distributed teams. That’s why the first three tools on our list are all designed to streamline the process and make it easy for your agents to hold conversations and meetings.
Slack is now widely considered the standard for internal company communication — and for good reason. The platform makes it easy to not only hold one-on-one conversations but also create ‘channels’ (chat groups) to discuss specific projects and tasks.
Many remote teams also treat Slack as a sort of “virtual office,” and also have non-work-related channels to catch up and chat during downtime.
Apart from messaging your coworkers to discuss work, here’s a bunch of other cool stuff that you can do using Slack:
– Set reminders which can be activated by simply typing /reminder
– Star a message to create a to-do list
– Add apps such as Dropbox, Google Calendar, and Donut
2. Google Hangouts
While you can resolve most quick questions via email or a chat platform, sometimes there’s no substitute for a face-to-face conversation. And while the remote setup doesn’t allow for real in-person meetings, the Google Hangouts video call feature is an excellent stand-in.
This tool makes it easy to schedule and hold one-on-one video calls, as well as virtual ‘meetings’ with multiple members of your team. And best of all? It’s free to use.
Beyond video calls, you can also use Hangouts to:
– Collaborate on Google Docs
– Use bots to book meetings, poll your team, and check your calendar
On the surface, GoToMeeting is similar to Google Hangouts. But unlike Hangouts, it was designed specifically with businesses in mind.
As a result, it comes with extra features like file sharing and polling. It also supports rich media add-ons like slideshows and annotations. So, if you are looking for more out of your video call platform than what Hangouts offers, this paid platform is a step up.
Project Management Tools
Project management tools are useful in every stage of a support team’s workflow, beginning with the onboarding process for each new team member.
Trello is a free project management tool that allows teams to create separate boards for different workflows, as well as individual ‘cards’ for tasks within those boards.
If you’re not ready to invest in a paid tool, Trello is a great starting point for any support team. You can use it to:
– Manage your personal to-do list
– Brainstorm ideas
– Work with cross-functional teams
Asana is a task-based project management platform designed for teams looking for more than what they can get from a free tool. You can create teams for specific projects so that the right people always have access to relevant information. Then, you can assign tasks to these teams along with fellow team members.
Asana also enables teams to:
– Create templates for common workflows and processes
– Set up recurring tasks
– Embed email communication within project management
Basecamp is another paid project management tool but is designed to allow for more discussion and collaboration.
Each task expands into a thread on which team members can add comments and feedback. The platform also offers a built-in text editor for editing and revising shared documents.
You can also use the platform to:
– Store version histories of individual files
– Reorder and color code files
– Post regular “check-in” questions to replace status meetings
As a remote team, you will need to store all of your resources, guides, and other documents online. Fortunately, many platforms are up to the job.
7. Google Drive
Much like the rest of Google’s products, Drive is a popular option among businesses. Each account comes with 15GB of free storage, and users can upgrade to 100GB for just $1.99 per month.
The platform also offers:
– Offline access
– One-tap phone backup
– Easy integration with other Google products like Docs, Sheets, and Slides
Although Dropbox’s free plan only comes with 2GB of storage, their paid plans cater to significant storage needs — ranging up to a whopping 2TB (that’s 2,048 GB) for $16.58 per month.
Paid plans also come with Dropbox’s Smart Sync feature, which lets users make files available both in the online interface and on their local computers. Dropbox’s other advanced features include:
– Customizable link permissions
– File and version recovery
– “Dropbox Showcase” for sharing files with customers and clients
Huddle sets itself apart from other cloud storage platforms by offering advanced security features for businesses storing and sharing sensitive documents.
In fact, the company boasts that over 80% of UK’s Central Government agencies use the platform — so if you have security concerns about your team’s documents, it’s an option worth considering.
Beyond security, Huddle also offers:
– Collaboration tools
– Version control
– Integration with tools like Google Apps, Microsoft Office
Many remote teams rely on VPNs to give employees secure access to the company’s internal network and resources.
If you’re unfamiliar with these tools, they essentially create encrypted connections between the user’s computer and a server, making it more difficult for anyone to hack into and access company information.
ExpressVPN was one of the first VPN providers and is still one of the most popular.
The platform allows users up to three simultaneous connections and offers 24/7 live chat customer support to resolve any issues. Plus, the company’s plans are relatively inexpensive, starting at $12.95 per month.
In addition to basic VPN service, the platform also includes:
– Speed testing features
– Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more
IPVanish is a slightly less expensive option, with plans starting at $10 per month.
While they don’t offer the same level of round-the-clock support as ExpressVPN, all plans support up to 10 simultaneous connections — making this a solid choice for larger teams.
IPVanish also offers:
– Unlimited bandwidth
– Geo-locked content access
The “BT” in BTGuard stands for “BitTorrent,” meaning that this VPN provider operates slightly differently from the other options on the market.
Its main differentiators are that it keeps no logs of user activity, and the company accepts BitCoin as payment. These factors make it a popular option among users looking for anonymity and security.
The platform’s features also include:
– Unlimited download speeds
– BitTorrent proxy
Scheduling and Time Tracking Tools
Managing schedules across multiple time zones can get tricky. The following tools simplify the process of creating and managing those schedules.
13. When I Work
When I Work is a shift-scheduling tool that makes it easy to notify employees of shifts, give them the chance to pick up available shifts, and set availability statuses to avoid scheduling conflicts.
This tool is free for teams of up to 75 users, and paid plans start at $1.50 per user per month.
Users can also use the platform for:
– Text message alerts
– Manager-to-manager communication
Timely is a time tracking platform that helps teams monitor not only how many hours individual members work, but how much time they spend on projects as a whole.
This way, companies can get an at-a-glance overview of how they allocate their team’s time, and whether it’s the most efficient use of each member’s time.
Timely also offers its users:
– Profitability projections
– Automated time tracking and entries
Clockify is another time tracking platform, designed to create a sense of accountability for each member of a remote team.
By tracking individual tasks, the platform makes it easy to see which activities take up most of each team member’s time and get a real sense of productivity levels across the board.
The platform also includes:
– Three types of automated reports
– Team and project management tools
16. World Time Buddy
Scheduling meetings with a remote team can be tough, and World Time Buddy is designed to address this particular issue.
Users can add the time zones of each team member needed in a meeting, then use a drag-and-drop slider to find a time that’s reasonable for each person.
World Time Buddy also enables users to:
– Create and name groups for faster scheduling
– Access the tool via a mobile app
Progress and Status Sharing Tools
Maintaining a sense of teamwork isn’t always easy for distributed teams, but progress and status-sharing tools help ensure that no one’s contributions go unnoticed.
iDoneThis is a simple tool that sends every team member an automated email at the end of each day asking what they accomplished. Then, they compile that information into a “digest”-style email that they share with the entire team.
The platform also includes:
– Customizable progress reports
– Resource management tools
WorkingOn is a status-sharing tool that integrates with popular platforms like Slack, Trello, and Asana. Each team member can update their status to reflect what they’re currently working on so that others can see their progress without any disruption.
WorkingOn also offers enables users to:
– Share real-time updates on tasks and progress
– Divide users into teams
Password Management Tools
As this post illustrates, most remote teams use a lot of different tools and platforms in their daily workflows. Password management tools ensure that each team member can easily access accounts on each, without having to remember dozens of passwords.
LastPass is a user-friendly password storage tool that operates primarily through a browser extension. It offers support for an unlimited number of devices, and plans for businesses begin at $2.42 per user per month.
LastPass’s plans also include:
– Admin controls for over 100 policies
– Single sign-on for cloud apps
Dashlane is another password management tool with an easy-to-use browser extension. It also offers a bulk password changer feature for companies that want the option to “refresh” passwords on a regular basis. Plans start at $4.99 per month.
The platform also offers:
– Automated password generator and password changer tools
– Seamless syncing across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
What Else is Out There
Managing a remote support team isn’t always an easy task — but there are plenty of tools that can help simplify the process.
With the right ones, you can streamline everything from your team’s communication and project management processes to the way you store and share information.
Plus, using scheduling, time tracking, and status sharing tools, you can be sure that your team is always on the same page.
This way, each of your agents can be as productive and efficient as possible — no matter their location.
This article is taken from Freshdesk Blog. You can find the original article here: https://freshdesk.com/customer-support/remote-tools-blog/
Disclaimer: ArgaSoftware is an Official Affiliate Partner of Freshdesk. I will receive commisions if you sign up for Freshdesk Paid Plan.