5 Job for the Future Customer Service Organization

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Customer service recruiting used to be really straightforward. You needed agents to man the phones and managers to monitor performance. Both positions are relatively low cost and require moderate to little experience.

But this model is quickly becoming a vestige of customer service strategies past as companies view support as more than just a cost of doing business. Just take a look at customer service pioneer Zappos. They see these connections as an “opportunity to market… through ‘wow’ moments,” Joseph Michelli, author of The Zappos Experience, told me recently.

In the future, these “wow moments” will require navigating an increasingly complicated Web of technologies and data. So companies will find themselves needing varied talent. I rallied some of the biggest names in staffing — including Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Randstad USA and SimplyHired — to help me envision how these changes will impact customer service hiring in the future. Here’s five new roles they envision.

Self-Service Content Strategist

Customers don’t actually want to call you — they’d rather avoid the hold music, phone trees and transfer ping pong. Forrester reported recently a clear shift to digital communication; self-service usage alone increased about 12 percent in the last three years.

This role would focus on driving more customers to self-services communities with two different kinds of content: articles that address specific customer service queries, and others that educate readers about how they can use your product or service to improve their business. Essentially, this person’s goal is to deflect tickets from the call center and inspire future purchases.

The content strategist would need to mine popular topics in call center notes, as well as consult Web analytics to see which articles garner the most traffic. They might also need search engine optimization training to craft articles around keywords relevant to that particular business.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) Developer

All of the greatest content in the world is meaningless if the customer can’t find it — fast. This becomes exceedingly important when you consider that 88 percent of people will spend more if they get their issues addressed online immediately.

This role would work to ensure the right answer appears no matter how the question is asked, or where the customer (or agent) searches.

This requires designing sophisticated algorithms that can process natural language to find the answer, whether it’s typed in a search box, an automated chat or even an internally-facing knowledge base.

The NLP Developer would need to continually refine these codes to pick up on variations in the way people ask questions about your product or service. Consider the difference, for example between the following two questions that both need the same answer:

  • Where is the power button on my gaming console?
  • How do I turn on my XBox?

In addition to refining the language processing codes, this position would need to constantly analyze query success rates to find subject areas that still need refining.

Social Service Success Coordinator

About 47 percent of social media users have used Facebook, Twitter and other channels for customer service (59 percent for 18-24 year olds); and of those, about 71 percent would recommend a brand that responds effectively, NMicite reported.

The Social Service Coordinator would ensure social customer service efficiency, while keeping an eye out for opportunities to market support interactions. In order to respond effectively, companies have to use social listening technology. This person would work to refine keyword identifiers that tell these systems what signals a customer service message.

If the contact center suddenly gets a huge flux in calls about a particular product, for example, the coordinator would want to start listening for combinations of that word and “help,” “broken,” “angry,” and so on. If a Twitter user responded with a glowing “thank you, I will tell my friends!” that person might then want to retweet that message, or share it with marketing for other collateral.

Mobile Customer Experience Optimizer

Customers crave personalization from companies, and hate call centers for this exact reason. When they call, they inevitably end up answering the same questions for several different people who look up their account information each time.

Last year, I wrote an article about how Siri-like mobile applications sidestep this annoyance and personalize the service like never before. The customer can still speak their question instead of tapping around on a tiny smartphone keyboard, and the device already knows their account information because they’re logged in.

The Mobile Customer Experience Optimizer would work to cater these applications to match their specific customer. If one feature is used more than another, for example, they might ask developers to add a bold header for that tool on the application home screen. Or maybe they’d work with the NLP Developer to refine speech recognition for that function. Optimizing content in this way can increase customer satisfaction as much as 60 percent, one report showed.

Virtual Customer Service Representative (CSR) Manager

The benefits to employing virtual CSRs are clear (Data from Momentum Telecom’s “Benefits of Telecommuting” report):

  • It helps with helps with recruiting because agents can work from anywhere, and 89 percent of employees consider telecommuting a perk.
  • It helps with retention as employees have reported 25 percent less stress working from home.
  • And it saves as much as $11,000 per employee in operational costs.

This employment model is not completely without risk, however. As Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer warned recently when she banned work from home, virtual staffing can result in lost productivity. The Virtual CSR Manager would provide tools and services for enabling mobile work, as well as consistently comb Key Performance Metrics to identify weak spots.

If a CSR appeared to be lagging behind their cohorts, for example, this manager might start monitoring their calls and deliver additional training if needed. Or during peak communication cycles, thethis Virtual CSR Managerperson might increase the number of agents on duty by pulling from a pool of contracted virtual agents they’ve assembled.

These are just a few of the potential job titles our experts see emerging in the future. What changes do you see? What’s missing from this list? Join the conversation by commenting here.

Ashley Furness
Ashley Furness is a technology analyst for research firm Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.

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