Twenty percent of the customers is already using Messaging, Twitter or chat to get in touch. Online is faster, easier and more accessible than calling. Besides, a customer nowadays not only needs a solution to his problem, he also wants to be heard. Different things are therefore required of service employees. Social skills, for example, are now becoming important. And therefore, a change of course is called for. Time for Customer Service 2.0.
Correct and personal
"The shift towards digital is happening very fast at Customer Service", says Sjors de Visser. "We still receive plenty of emails and phone calls from customers, but new online channels are gaining in popularity. For that reason we are rapidly digitizing our customer service. Already, employees see automatic recommendations on their screen when they are talking to a customer. This is the result of analyzing millions of chats and emails from the past, which have all been gathered in one system. That database continues to grow and learn, making the machine increasingly accurate in its answers to the customer’s question."
A machine answering your questions. Will that be the future? "Partly", Sjors explains. "Because of the available data, a machine can in some parts of a chat answer questions better and faster than an employee. But that same employee can do something the machine cannot, give personal attention. Which is as important, to say the least. Indeed, we notice that customers first of all want to be heard, to be able to explain their situation in detail. And then receive help. In that way, man and machine complement each other perfectly."
Develop within the organization
The shift towards a digital customer service requires a different service employee. Which competencies does a service employee of the future need? Besides a broad knowledge, empathy is especially important, Sjors believes. "Being patient and listening well are essential skills. What is the problem underneath the question? Giving answers right to the point is also important, customers like that. In addition, employees need to be 'digitally conscious'; able to use photo and video and to conduct conversations with several customers simultaneously. These kind of skills are not related to your status of junior, medior or senior. For that reason we have developed the Omnichannel Engagement Center. Here we describe the skills and possible career paths of the service employee 2.0."
One to one marketing
An important change compared to former days is that the career of customer contact employees is no longer limited to the Customer Service department. Their role is changing. "They are becoming a kind of marketer, as they have one to one contact with customers. Which is where the propagation of our brand starts. For that reason, they need to know everything about the new digital products and processes of our company."
Where in former times employees often looked for new challenges outside the organization after a couple of years, they can now find new positions within the organization. "Everyone can rise through the ranks in his or her way. You can stay at customer service and specialize, but you can also transfer to another department. In this way their expertise is retained and we offer them development prospects within VodafoneZiggo."
Breaking the ceiling
Junior, medior or senior? None of these anymore. The new service employee is a freshman, all-rounder, associate, pioneer or specialist. And that is more than just a change of the name, Sjors explains. "As a junior, you will gain experience and develop into a medior. But what we find important is that you develop towards other work, that you don’t stay in a role where you’ve seen it all or where your competencies not fully fit."
Retaining valuable knowledge, that is the idea. And leveraging that knowledge better by constantly offering employees career and development opportunities. According to a career path they design themselves. "In the past you reached a ceiling at some point in time", says Sjors. "Now we remove that barrier. There is always a way to break that ceiling."