So, what do hiring managers need to look out for? Caroline Pattern shares her opinion:
Changing Job Titles, Job Descriptions and Salaries
Traditional roles that focus on customer service have changed dramatically. Receptionists, telephonists, inbound customer service agents, hosts and those who act as the initial point of contact are expected to do more and go the extra mile to make the first encounter memorable. As such, they often require individuals with more experience in a customer-driven industry and command higher salaries.
On the flip side, many organisations are automating the first stage in customer service with the phone being used less and less. Alternative customer support channels – from chatbots to self-service – reduce human interaction but increase the need for roles in IT and Marketing such as customer analytics and software testing. There is also a shift away from outbound sales with job titles more focused on account management and internal sales such as “Client Relationship Executive” or “Customer Experience.
Recruitment and Performance Management driven by Values
Standards of customer service are improving with companies continuing to set the bar higher and create new benchmarks for their competitors to aspire to. Equally, companies are recognising that value and experience are more important than price, with a rise in personalisation leading to an enhanced customer experience.
This means more organisations are moving towards a values-based approach to recruitment and performance management. Recruiting staff who can embody their organisational values and act as customer advocates also increases the likelihood of employee engagement, retention and consistency in the delivery of exceptional service.
Emphasis on technology and speed of response
Increased automation, machine-learning and the rise of artificial intelligence are helping businesses to create a better CX. Whilst undoubtedly these technologies lead to reduced human interaction, they help companies make better decisions in determining customer needs and behaviours. Rather than making the role of customer service agents redundant therefore, it simply creates a need for more specialist customer professionals – such as technical support execs or “Intelligent Assistants”.
Technology also allows businesses to deliver a 24/7 service at a time when customers want a speedier response. At the same time, this demand is supported by the rise in the gig economy – individuals preferring flexible hours, home-based or remote-working to coincide with their changing lifestyles.
Being proactive, agile and responsive
Companies are becoming better at spotting and fixing problems, being proactive in their approach to eliminating frustration and creating confidence in a seamless customer journey. Customers want convenience and a company that is easy to do business with, which means an increased emphasis on reducing vulnerabilities and responding to change.
Customer service recruitment will therefore move towards an increased focus on agent agility and hiring individuals that can assist customers in multiple ways. Agents will need to be smarter than ever and better equipped to respond, which is likely to mean budget increases and reallocation for customer service teams.
Expert Opinion from Caroline Pattern, Grassroots Recruitment