Leverage your team's time zones to offer the best customer service

Hiring in Different Time Zones To Offer Better Support

Hiring in different time zones can help your company offer better support. But, as a company leader or customer support manager, how do you scale up support to achieve more coverage?

In this post, we’ll discuss why hiring in different time zones can be helpful as your company expands and explain how to start hiring in different time zones. 

Pros of hiring in different time zones

If your company has customers spread out across the country (or the world), hiring in different time zones can help you ensure that customers receive timely support.

Fast response time may not be the most important element of great customer support, but it is important. According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report, nearly half of customers consider 24/7 coverage to be a top component of good customer service. 

Steps to hiring in different time zones 

So how do you get started with hiring in different time zones? Here are steps to consider: 

1. Identify what needs to improve in your customer service

In 3 Strategies for Scaling Up to 24-Hour Customer Service, customer experience leader Craig Stoss recommends getting clear on what your customers’ needs are. Some useful questions to ask include:

  • Are you meeting your expected service levels (SLAs)?
  • What channels do customers use to ask for support?
  • Are customers okay with delayed responses?
  • Is there a language or a cultural barrier to providing great support?

2. Understand when most tickets come—and where from 

Look into ticket data from the last couple of years. Is there a rise in incoming cases? At what time of day do you get the biggest influx of tickets? Where do tickets typically come from? 

To marketer Len Markidan, an overwhelming number of tickets from a single international location is a sign that you might need coverage for that time zone.

3. Explore options for expanding coverage

Shifts

A common strategy for expanding coverage is to get an existing customer support team to work in shifts. For example, you might recruit one or more team members specifically to work the night shift. 

In Should You Hire Customer Service Agents in Different Time Zones?, Len Markidan notes that a surprising number of people are willing to work unusual hours. “For many reasons, non-traditional shifts can be attractive options for some people,” he wrote.

Some people are night owls. Others have spouses who work nights and weekends and want to work a similar schedule to spend more time with them.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing—hiring a third-party company to handle support in a specific time zone or language—is another option. 

Companies that want to improve their first-response time or expand coverage over a specific period without incurring costs with hiring and training can benefit from outsourcing.

(There are pros and cons to outsourcing your customer support; for more on that, check out Craig Stoss’ 3 Strategies for Scaling Up to 24-Hour Customer Service.)

Hiring in different time zones

Finally, you can bring on support agents based on their time zone or location, either by hiring them as remote employees, independent contractors, or leased employees (see our post on hiring digital nomads for more information).

4. Lay the foundation for asynchronous work

Before hiring in different time zones, you have to set the foundation for remote, asynchronous work. A good place to start is to create internal documentation that collaborators can reference to complete tasks independently.

Implementing remote work tools and having a plan for how you will manage and engage your remote team is also essential.

Extend support coverage as you grow

The process of hiring in different time zones starts with identifying customers’ needs and analyzing ticket data to confirm that you need extended coverage.

If the data points to a need for hiring in different time zones, you have the option of recruiting remote employees, outsourcing, or bringing on independent contractors.  

Whichever approach you choose, laying a foundation for asynchronous work will ensure that new collaborators can do their jobs no matter where they are.

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