Brands have long been encouraging customers to self-serve, but now they are increasingly able to do so, a different set of challenges for the service department has arisen, requiring a different agent skill set.
A new breed-of super-agent, the CSR 2.0 is rapidly emerging, and luckily for you, because they have to be all things to all customers, they’re equipping themselves with a multitude of skills. Many of the skills have evolved in-line with changes in consumerism, but all require the same, or better, evolution of the supporting technology.
With a multitude of contact channels offering tiered levels of assistance, at the point agent intervention is needed, the interaction tends to be more complex and personal in nature, and as such, requires more skill.
Skilling-up the CSR 2.0 to do their job effectively means they must have fast access to knowledge encompassing all areas of the business – purchase histories, offers received, service history – and the processes and tools to gather and use this knowledge effectively.
But knowledge is just one element; structured and unstructured data, myriad customer touch points and the proliferation of mobile, demand the CSR incorporate expertise in many disciplines outside Customer Service. So, what key traits does the new super-CSR demonstrate?
Decisions based on fact rather than guesswork is what all businesses strive for and who better to help shape strategy than the group most often in direct contact with customers? Every day the Service team has access to customer preferences and feedback. The entrepreneurial CSR spots areas where products and services can be refined. Nurture this skill; make it easy for agents to share these insights across the business and take the guesswork out of all manner of decision making.
OK, so it may be a bit glib, but it’s also true that when nothing else has worked, it’s the service agent who is left to clear up the mess. The new CSRs are great at this, equipped with a high level of emotional intelligence; whether written or verbal, they are able gauge customer emotion and tailor their tone and responses in order to achieve the best outcome. Help them further this skill by allowing them to make discretionary gestures that will not only clean up the mess, but ensure future goodwill.
The CSR 2.0 is a brilliant communicator. While this has always been true, it’s now more important than ever as they need to tailor their tone and language depending on the channel the customer has chosen. Both verbal and written communication skills are vital to providing a professional and consistent voice across all interaction channels.
Customers expect to be able to get in touch with your brand on their terms and, increasingly, their terms means social media. Many perceive the public nature of social media as putting extra pressure on brands to respond, and the immediacy of the channel means agents need to respond quickly and competently.
The CSR 2.0 meets customers across a number of social channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+. They have both the knowledge and flexibility to work across all these channels, and the tools to monitor and respond to them effectively.
And why does the CSR 2.0 need to work across so many departments? To turn what has traditionally been a cost centre in to a revenue maker: to retain customers and foster loyalty. They are trained to spot opportunities to advise, recommend and subtly up and cross sell. Balancing these “harder” skills with the emotional intelligence mentioned is a further complexity the super-CSR has to conquer.
The CSR 2.0 is increasingly specialised, but at the same time, has more to manage than ever, both at a channel level and in specific knowledge areas.
To become the master of so many trades, the CSR 2.0 must be empowered with access to a broad knowledge base. Learning a trade requires education, training and development. Ultimately, the decisions they make when they interact with your customers affect your strategy and reputation. Your CEO didn’t get there without learning the ropes – don’t let your CSRs.
So, when did you last update your job specifications?