In today’s globalized business landscape, organizations face challenges operating across different time zones and serving customers worldwide. Communication gaps, delayed response times, and limited availability during off-hours can hinder productivity and impact customer satisfaction.
Enter the Follow the Sun model—a strategic solution to overcome these obstacles.
The Follow the Sun model empowers organizations to leverage global teams in different time zones, enabling round-the-clock productivity, seamless handoffs, and uninterrupted customer support. By harnessing the potential of global collaboration, this model brings together diverse expertise and perspectives to see new markets, drive innovation and solve complex problems.
This article provides a comprehensive guide to effectively implementing the Follow the Sun model. We explore its benefits, including enhanced productivity, improved customer satisfaction, increased innovation, and cost optimization.
What is the Follow the Sun Model?
The “follow the sun” model in the customer service industry is a strategy companies use to provide 24/7 customer support across different time zones. The concept is based on the idea that the sun never sets on customer service, meaning that assistance should be available at any time, regardless of the the customer service agent’s location.
In the follow-the-sun model, customer service teams are distributed across multiple global locations, each covering specific time zones. When one team finishes its workday, another customer service team in a different location takes over, ensuring continuous coverage. This allows companies to provide round-the-clock support and minimize response times for customers in different regions.
For example, if a customer support center in the United States completes its shift, it can pass on unresolved issues or inquiries to a team in another part of the world, such as Europe or Asia, where it is daytime. This ensures that customers receive timely assistance regardless of their geographical location.
By implementing the follow-the-sun model, companies can enhance customer satisfaction, improve service availability, and reduce response times. It requires coordination and efficient communication among the different teams to ensure a seamless transition and maintain consistent quality of customer service reps.
Principles of the Follow the Sun Model
The follow-the-sun model uses several key principles to ensure effective implementation and seamless customer service. These principles include:
- Global Distribution: Customer service teams are strategically located in different regions worldwide to cover various time zones. This enables continuous support and eliminates delays in response times.
- Time Zone Handovers: Teams hand over customer inquiries and unresolved issues to the next team in a different time zone as their workday ends. This transfer of information ensures that customers experience a smooth transition and receive prompt assistance.
- Seamless Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are crucial for following the sun model. Teams must have efficient processes and tools to share information, maintain consistency in customer interactions, and address complex issues that may span multiple time zones.
- Knowledge Sharing: The model emphasizes knowledge sharing among teams to ensure that customer support agents have access to the necessary information and resources. This may involve creating a centralized knowledge base or implementing collaborative platforms where teams can share insights and best practices.
- Consistent Service Quality: Maintaining consistent service quality is essential despite the distribution across multiple locations. Standardized processes, training programs, and quality assurance measures are typically implemented to ensure a unified customer experience regardless of the time zone or team handling the request.
- Flexibility and Scalability: The follow-the-sun model should be adaptable to changing customer demands and business requirements. It should allow for scaling up or down the size and capabilities of teams in different regions as necessary.
- Continuous Improvement: Regular evaluation and feedback loops are vital to improving the follow-the-sun model continuously. By analyzing performance metrics, customer feedback, and team collaboration, companies can identify areas for improvement and implement changes to enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction.
By adhering to these principles, companies can implement the Follow the Sun model effectively and provide uninterrupted global customer service and support across various time zones.
Benefits of the Follow the Sun Model
Implementing the Follow the Sun Model has several benefits for your company. Some of them are:
The Follow the Sun model ensures round-the-clock productivity by utilizing global teams across different time zones. Work can be seamlessly handed off from one team to another as the day progresses, resulting in continuous progress and reduced time to market.
For example, a software development company may have teams in Asia, Europe, and North America. When the Asian team completes their day, the European team can pick up where they left off, followed by the North American team, effectively achieving 24-hour productivity.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
The Follow the Sun model offers the advantage of providing uninterrupted customer support and service. With teams operating across various time zones, businesses can cater to customer needs regardless of location or time. This ensures prompt response times and reduces customer wait times.
For instance, a multinational e-commerce company can have customer support teams in different regions, guaranteeing 24/7 availability and resolving customer issues in real time.
The diversity of perspectives and expertise brought together through the Follow the Sun model fosters innovation and problem-solving. Global teams collaborating on projects can provide fresh insights and approaches due to their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Organizations can unlock new ideas and solutions by tapping into the collective knowledge and creativity of a geographically dispersed workforce.
For example, a global pharmaceutical company can leverage the Follow the Sun model to accelerate drug discovery by tapping into the expertise of scientists across multiple research centers.
Implementing the Follow the Sun model can optimize cost by maximizing resource utilization and minimizing downtime. With teams operating across different time zones, organizations can ensure continuous workflow without incurring overtime costs. Moreover, teams in different regions can benefit from cost-effective resources and infrastructure available locally.
For instance, a manufacturing company with production facilities in Asia and North America can save costs by utilizing resources and materials available at each location during their respective time zones.
Factors to Consider for the Follow the Sun Model Suitability
While this model offers numerous benefits, evaluating whether it aligns with your organization’s goals and requirements is crucial. This section explores key factors to consider when determining if the Follow the Sun model fits your business.
Global Operations and Customer Base
The Follow the Sun model can be highly advantageous if your organization operates globally or serves customers in different time zones. It ensures continuous availability and prompt response times, improving customer satisfaction. Assess the geographic distribution of your operations and customer base to determine whether implementing this model would offer a significant service quality and responsiveness advantage.
Example: A multinational IT services company with clients in Europe, North America, and Asia may find the Follow the Sun model beneficial as it enables them to provide seamless 24/7 customer support, ensuring that clients in different regions receive immediate assistance regardless of geographic location or the time zone.
Consider the nature of your business operations and whether time-critical tasks are involved. Certain industries, such as software development, media and entertainment, and financial services, often have tight deadlines and require quick turnarounds. The Follow the Sun model allows you to leverage the “follow the sun” principle to expedite project completion and reduce time to market.
Example: A global marketing agency that handles time-sensitive campaigns for clients worldwide can benefit from the Follow the Sun model. With teams operating in different regions, they can work on campaign deliverables continuously, maximizing productivity and ensuring on-time execution.
Complex and Collaborative Projects
Assess the complexity and collaborative nature of your projects. The Follow the Sun model thrives when multiple teams need to collaborate across different time zones. If your organization undertakes projects that require expertise from diverse teams or involves 24-hour development cycles, this model can significantly enhance collaboration and innovation
Example: An international research and development company working on a groundbreaking scientific project may find the Follow the Sun model valuable. With scientists and researchers operating in many different locations and time zones, the organization can achieve round-the-clock progress, accelerate discoveries, and leverage diverse perspectives to solve complex problems.
Scalability and Resource Optimization
Evaluate your organization’s scalability needs and resource optimization goals. The Follow the Sun model offers scalability by enabling teams to hand off work to from one location or another as the day progresses, ensuring continuous workflow. It also allows for efficient resource allocation by utilizing cost-effective resources available in different regions during their respective time zones.
Example: A global manufacturing company experiencing seasonal demand fluctuations can benefit from the Follow the Sun model. By operating production facilities in multiple time zones, they can optimize resource utilization, maximize output, and meet varying customer demands efficiently.
Best Practices for the Follow the Sun Model
Clear Communication and Documentation
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful collaboration in the Follow the Sun model. Establish clear communication channels and protocols to facilitate seamless information exchange among teams.
Leverage collaboration tools, project management software, and instant messaging platforms to enable real-time communication and foster a sense of connectedness. Additionally, establish documentation standards to ensure project information, updates, and critical knowledge are documented and accessible to all teams. This enhances collaboration, promotes knowledge sharing, and enables smooth handoffs between time zones and your customer service agent.
Robust Knowledge Transfer
Transitioning work across time zones from one team to another requires thorough knowledge transfer processes. Document critical project information, best practices, and lessons learned to ensure teams can access the necessary knowledge and context.
Conduct regular knowledge-sharing sessions and encourage teams to share their expertise, challenges, and innovative ideas. By fostering a culture of knowledge exchange, you can harness the collective intelligence of your global workforce, drive collaboration, and minimize disruptions during handoffs.
Flexible Work Policies and Support
Flexibility is key when teams operate in different time zones. Implement flexible work policies that accommodate your global workforce’s diverse schedules and preferences. Consider offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and task delegation strategies that promote work-life balance and productivity.
Provide the necessary technological infrastructure and support, including reliable internet connectivity, virtual meeting platforms, and secure file-sharing systems. By enabling remote collaboration and supporting the unique needs of your global teams, you can foster a productive and engaged workforce.
Cultural Sensitivity and Inclusivity
Cultural diversity is a valuable asset in the Follow the Sun model. Embrace and celebrate the diversity of your global workforce, recognizing that different cultures bring unique perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. Promote cultural sensitivity and inclusivity by providing training and resources that enhance cross-cultural understanding and communication.
Encourage open dialogue and mutual respect among team members, creating an environment that values and leverages diverse perspectives. By fostering a culture of inclusion, you can unlock the full potential of your global teams, drive innovation, and create a harmonious work environment.
Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring team performance is essential to ensure productivity and efficiency in the Follow the Sun model. Implement robust performance monitoring mechanisms that track project milestones, team productivity, and customer satisfaction metrics. Regularly assess team performance, identify bottlenecks, and address any issues promptly.
Leverage data analytics and reporting tools to gain insights into productivity trends, resource utilization, and customer feedback. Use these insights to make informed decisions, improve processes, and continuously enhance the effectiveness of the Follow the Sun model.
How Keeping helps you implement the Follow the Sun Model
To implement the Follow the Sun Model, you’ll need a help desk system with just the right features needed for the model. Well, you do not have to go around looking for software. We’ve got you covered!
Keeping is the perfect software for the global support teams that serve customer support via email. Here are the key features that help you deliver global customer support:
Collaboration for your Email
With Keeping, you can add collaboration features for your support team. Everyone on your team can use Keeping from their Mailbox to receive, reply to, and assign support emails. All support emails are separated from your regular emails and placed in a special folder in your mailbox.
Team members can talk to each other via internal notes, create shared notes and use shared templates. Keeping also comes with collision detection, so no two team members from different parts of the world are working on the same project or request.
Ability to Share the Workload
When working in a global team, some of your team members may want to get some workload off their plate. In this case, Keeping lets you individually assign tickets to different agents. This way, agents can work on specific requests without worrying about the other requests.
Just click on the option for assignment, and you can assign the ticket to whomever you want.
Communicate the Status of a Ticket
Some tickets may slip through the cracks when your agents are sitting on two different sides of the world. And, of course, that’s not great! With Keeping, you can put status marks on your ticket. You can mark your tickets as open, closed, or pending so that your agents know what to do with each ticket.
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