SuperAgent – How the Face of Customer Service has Changed Forever according to Natalie Calvert, Founder of CX High Performance.
The aftermath of the pandemic coupled with the rapid emergence of the 4th Industrial revolution, has meant that the job market has faced countless challenges. Customer Service, CX Leaders and Boards everywhere are being posed with entirely new dilemmas as the world of work is rapidly changing, while traditional roles are being completely redefined almost every day.
One role that seems to be caught right in the middle of this new wave of occupational evolution is the role of the Customer Service Agent, or Customer Service Advisor. As the nature of transactional based queries has changed, so too have the demands that we place on our customer service specialists. Thanks to the pressures of the modern work environment, we are beginning to see the birth of a new type of employee, the hybrid working Customer Service ‘SuperAgent’.
The SuperAgent is the Customer Service Advisor of the post pandemic, 4th Industrial Revolution.
What Happened to the Traditional Customer Service Advisor?
As the world has become almost entirely digital, consumers increasingly look to other forms of support. Rather than spending excessive amounts of time listening to some catchy jingle on hold to a helpline, customers have come to expect their services to be instant.
Naturally, the customer support structure has transitioned to heavier use of online methods of contact such as email, messaging and online chat bots. Customer Service has also employed the use of many automated knowledge management systems for their customers to interact with. All of this has compounded to create a job role that is almost entirely different to what it once was.
To provide some perspective on just how much we believe this role has evolved, we must first consider what is expected from a traditional Customer Service Advisor. According to leading job site Reed.co.uk, a Customer Service Agent is defined as being someone who is “generally the first point of contact for customers looking for help or information”, who “work via email or on the phone”.
Interestingly, Reed now places working via email before working over the phone, which is a testament to just how much the world of customer service has changed. But how has it changed, and how can you ensure your staff are empowered to tackle these changes head on?
What Exactly is a Customer Service SuperAgent?
The COVID-19 pandemic saw the dynamics of work change dramatically. The rise of working from home and conducting business via Zoom accelerated the transition to the use of email and online chat as an essential part of the way we work.
Being in a situation where they had to be even more resourceful and self-motivated than ever, in a world where everyone was forced into the frequent use of technology, the demands on our customer service advisors changed.
Queries became increasingly technical, complex and emotive, while the use of poorly designed and very frustrating chat bots that sent you round in circles drove customers to crave a decent relationship with a human advisor again – someone who could listen, help and resolve. Thus, the SuperAgent was born.
According to the World Economic Forum, the rise of machines and automation would eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025. Simultaneously though, the WEF expects 97 million new jobs to be created, resulting in a net increase of 12 million jobs. It is no surprise then, that as technological advances fill basic job roles, the need for ‘reskilling’ and ‘upskilling’ staff to fill these new, more technical positions is more important than ever.
SuperAgents in customer service are well versed in multiple aspects of the role. They can build a relationship over chat, email and the phone, while also being technically proficient enough to deal with complicated issues with ease. SuperAgents are a new breed of Customer Service Advisors that are resilient, critical thinkers with emotional intelligence and problem solvers.
One excellent example of a SuperAgent aptly highlighted by Business Reporter is the Apple Store Genius – “Rebranded and repurposed ‘support workers’ who can solve problems and offer solutions, as well as delight customers and sell effectively.” SuperAgent’s can do this brilliantly across all channels.
Why is it So Difficult to Retain Customer Service SuperAgents?
The shift to hybrid working has also brought with it a different set of priorities for staff and placed issues like mental health and well-being firmly at the forefront of what employees are now looking for from their careers.
Changes in the economic and political climate have driven workers everywhere to place their own needs first, which has led to what is being referred to as the great resignation. Now more than ever, staff are leaving job roles such as that of the Customer Service Advisor in droves to look for greener pastures.
Several factors are playing into this mass exodus, with employees leaving in search of:
– Better pay
– Hybrid working arrangements
– Trust and respect
– More capable managers
For Customer Service Advisors specifically though, the great resignation has in large part come about as the result of the role simply maturing over time. While advisors have grown from frenetic teenagers into motivated, self-sufficient adults, the structure of the role has remained stagnant.
Recent research from Contact Babel states that now 72% of contact centre agents are remote working.
Contact centres in particular may once have been compared to a tight-knit family unit, but since mitigating circumstances forced the family to go their separate ways, the dependants have not only discovered they can manage on their own, but that they do not want to return to dated working conditions.
SuperAgents know their value, have higher expectations and want (and deserve) more.
What Can You Do to Retain Staff and Nurture Your Customer Service SuperAgents?
For the Customer Service SuperAgent, the desire to leave often comes not from a place of anger, but rather a place of dissatisfaction with their status. Recognise that Customer Service SuperAgents have matured, grown, and evolved into something entirely new.
– Understand the value of the SuperAgent
– Redefine their role within the company and customer service delivery
– Give them the trust and respect that their extra responsibilities command
– Place a level of trust in them that their skillset demands
– Ensure they are skilled to fully meet customer expectations
As the industry continues to evolve, it is of the utmost importance that your customer service / CX organisation evolves with it. Reimagine the conversation, build upon the soft skills that allow your SuperAgents to develop into experts in everything you do so that they can continue to support your customers from a freshly empowered position.
Empowering Your Team Managers with the Skills to Adapt to the Rapidly Changing Job Market
A vital part of empowering your customer service advisors to become SuperAgents 4.0 is first empowering your Team Managers to adapt to these rapid changes. Above all else, SuperAgents are seeking out job roles in which they feel valued, and no member of your team is quite as capable of satisfying the needs of your SuperAgents as their Team Managers.
If you find your customer led organisation is experiencing rising complaints and a decline in employee satisfaction while key staff members are slipping through the cracks, it’s time to level up your Team Managers and embrace the SuperAgent..
Natalie Calvert is Founder of CX High Performance.
Natalie’s expertise and proven track record extends across 100+ customer service and sales organisations reaching over 200,000 employees across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the USA.
Natalie is a leading independent CX+EX authority and is the trusted ‘go-to person’ with UK and international clients.
For additional information on CX High Performance view their Company Profile