When I started in the customer care industry many years ago, the quality of the person hired and how they were trained was paramount. Today, that is truer than ever. When a customer reaches out and needs help, the quality of interaction on the other side has the power to make or break the relationship that customer has with the brand forever. While new technologies and industry and government regulations are impacting the how of those relationships are forged, managed and measured, we maintain that people are still at the heart of delivering exceptional customer experiences.
That said, it’s a tough time to be finding, hiring and managing the best talent. Across almost every industry, due to low unemployment rates, employers are competing for quality employees. National unemployment has seen a steady reduction since a high of 9.61 percent in 2010 and today stands at 4.93 percent, its lowest rate since 2007.
In addition, the costs of acquiring and retaining exceptional talent continue to grow. Currently, 29 states and D.C. have minimum wages that are above the federal minimum wage. Twelve of these states increased their rates through legislation that was passed in 2014 or 2015, while two states automatically increased their rates based on cost of living. And healthcare costs have skyrocketed over the past five years, increasing 50 percent with the average total medical cost per covered employer per year estimated at $12,440. Coming up in 2017, Affordable Care Act penalties will be set at $695 per individual plus inflation for those without health insurance.
And when you add in the “new kind of customer” that we have all become, the one who wants efficiency, personalized service and a frictionless customer experience through our channel of choice, how does a brand differentiate and deliver their bottom line?
We recommend taking a deep breath and embracing the change. The opportunities will outweigh the challenges.
Solution: The Evolution to the SuperAgent
In this environment, to get ahead and stay ahead, a company needs a new type of employee to interact with the most valuable asset - their customers. We call them SuperAgents. These employees are hired and trained as customer experience experts who are empowered to deliver best-in-class service through any channel whether a customer is connecting through voice, chat, video or mobile.
The customer experience center of the future will have fewer, but more empowered SuperAgents. They will be armed with new tools that will reduce friction and costs. Analytics-driven interaction strategies will enable these personalized customer journeys. Intuitive customer self-service, 24/7 omnichannel support and mobile service options will delight customers - like us.
In addition to leveraging technology, businesses will tap into the expertise of outsourcers to optimize people and process for hiring talent to work within this new breed of customer experience center. SuperAgents will be brought on board as a result of analytics-based hiring in order to identify those with a better profile, most likely to have a longer tenure and be the best fit for the role.
Customer experience experts will help design personalized and simulated learning programs to develop more specialized associates who will ramp quickly. Artificial intelligence will fuel smarter knowledge bases. Employment-focused workforce management systems will enable a friendlier scheduling process and increase employees’ access to management.
The benefits of a technology-enabled customer experience will continue to grow. Companies will continue to spend billions of dollars to get the right mix of people and technologies to deliver an exceptional experience every time. It will continue to be a competitive differentiator and the distance between the leaders and the laggards will expand.
To leapfrog the competition, companies will need to find partners that can help them make big moves fast—saving time and costs required to put these strategies into action. By leveraging the expertise of an outsourcer that lives-and-breathes the customer experience every day, companies will be rewarded with not only happy and loyal customers, but a bottom line that will be the envy of even their greatest competitors.
Like this? Subscribe to our customer experience blog here.
Also, check out the most recent issue of our monthly customer experience eNewsletter, Dialogue.