#CS: A Whole New Ballgame!


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The game and rules of customer service are rapidly changing. Are your players ready and equipped to to play the new game? 

When we refer to customer service today, it is with a hashtag followed by the abbreviation: #CS. Welcome to the digital age of Customer Service (as if you didn’t know it was here already!).
The Tower Watson Global Workforce Study of 2014 pegs 60% of employees lacking in the elements required to be highly engaged. That is a large percentage of the workforce.
This is especially important for customer service, that till now was hinged on ‘how’ the customer was managed and soft skills were the essentials to be of exemplary service to the customer.

The report is even more relevant and disturbing to the conventional service professional, when looked at with another piece of statistics. According to a Gartner study, by 2020, 85% of the customers will manage their relationship with a company without any human interaction.

Technology is evolving at a pace that is rapidly distancing the customer from the employee; at the same time bringing the customer closer to the company and its commodities. Even if the Gartner study is off by a few percentage points and a couple of years, it is no longer inconceivable for 100% service to be without human interaction in the very near future.
This changes the service environment and dynamics drastically. It effectively puts paid to the importance of soft skill as the mainstay of customer service. Yet we continue to recruit employees with the (already archaic) job description that has soft skills up front and centre. It is no longer going to be possible to work with the concept of ‘hire for attitude, train for skill.’ We need to wake up to this fact, and quickly. It is going to be skill, before anything else.

The Tower Watson Study alludes to skill as the element that 60% of the employees lack today to be highly engaged. That percentage will only rise in the next couple of years, unless the CSR (Customer Service Representative) is swiftly evolved into a CSP (Customer Service Professional).

Service personnel can no longer only ‘represent’ the company as its face for the customer. It will no longer be sufficient to take customer queries and pass them along for a resolution. If the service personnel are to survive in the new era, they will have to up-skill to competently and professionally resolve customer queries, end-to-end, themselves.
What are these skills that a CSP will need to effectively service the customer, with no human interaction at all? It is a question that looms in front of every customer service manager in every customer-centric company.

Each of them needs to identify skills relative to their business. And it needs to be done now; for the company, and more importantly, for the CSP. They must be made aware of the changing service scenario and the importance of adding specific skills to their repertoire.

There are 3 important questions you need to answer to stay ahead in the game.

  • Have you figured out what skills your CSP needs?
  • Have you begun training them for these relevant skills?
  • Have you changed the job description for recruiting the CSP?

​The game has changed. If you want to play , align with the new rules.
The Umpire is the Customer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


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