The Social Customer Service Talent Show

talentMany of the most progressive companies are blazing a path forward with new business models and technology to support a shift from reactive customer service (solve my problem) to proactive customer engagement (insure I don’t have any problems…or at least anticipate and minimize them).

This shift to proactive customer engagement has far-reaching implications across the enterprise. Too many to explore with any meaning in one blog post. So, since I’m sitting here in a contact center, lets dive into what that means here. For one, just when some of us old-schoolers have started to get their arms around the shift in terminology from “call center” to “contact center”, we now need to focus on this transition to the customer engagement center.  Yes.  In this case, a name is not just a name.  It is a vital element in supporting the enterprise shift to proactive engagement.

Proactive, predictive, multi-channel, cross-channel, omin-channel. In this human-capital intensive function within the enterprise, I’m wondering how’s all this impacting your customer service human capital strategy? The skill profile of the omni-channel customer engagement center representative is certainly different from that of the single-channel phone or email agent. So too are the methods by which the customer engagement center will acquire these human capital assets. The days of recruiting, staffing and deciding whether or not to outsource this function based solely on cost are long past. Customer demands of the engagement center are rising at a steady rate.

The complexity of this environment is not the only contributor to the need for broader and deeper communication skills. The ever-increasing public exposure of both service successes and epic service failures leaves no place for poor service to hide.  No longer is it even minimally acceptable for customer service agents to mechanically read from a script, capture some call notes and insure that the 53 elements of the quality form have been adhered to.  Customer service representatives have to be effective communicators.  Be able to think on their feet.  And possess sound judgement in order to do the right thing for the customer AND the company.  Oh, and the organization needs to empower the front line troops to do this.  But that’s another story.

In addition, the customer engagement center, through my lens, is fast become one of the focal points in the organization for not only collecting, but aggregating and analyzing the exponential growth in customer data.  Customer engagement professionals will need the skills to deliver actionable insights to various data consumers across the enterprise.  No longer is it sufficient to produce a static report and blast it out in email.  Not if customer service is to realize the strategic importance of sales, marketing, product development or other more traditional “knowledge capital” functions.

So, where is this new breed of customer engagement professional going  come from?  What does that hiring profile look like in your organization?  How are you going to identify those current customer service reps with the potential to take on this new role?  What are the new training requirements?  Methods? What does this do to how you model the finances of customer service?  It is certainly a different justification process.

Perhaps THIS is how marking and customer service finally get engaged…and tie the knot.

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