What will the contact center workforce look like in 10 years’ time?
Automation has the potential to transform the future workforce. Our Chief Strategy Officer Karsten Kraume discusses how this will impact contact center operatives.
Read time: 3 minutes
• Automation will not remove human operators in the foreseeable future, though roles will change
• As customers increasingly solve their own problems, reps will only see more challenging issues
• In a semi-automated contact center, employees will need to be more skilled than ever
According to our recent report into the future of contact centers in the next decade, over the next 10 years, developments in process automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will see most customer interactions handled without direct involvement from a human customer service representative.
This is a seismic shift in the way contact centers operate, and one that will have a dramatic effect on the customer service workforce of the future.
One headline finding of the report that is perhaps counterintuitive is that the overall number of human representatives isn’t likely to fall as automated self-service becomes the norm. In fact, we expect staff numbers to rise.
This is because the level of automation is likely to be offset by the increase in volume of interactions with customers.
What will change is the nature of the work they are doing.
We are likely to see typical conversations require a higher level of problem solving.
Customers will only be speaking to a human rep when they have no other choice, so a higher proportion are likely to be frustrated from the word go. This makes the rep’s job harder and places greater emphasis on clear thinking under pressure.
Currently a representative might find that only one in every hundred customer interactions they handle requires anything more than following standard procedures, as the run-of-the-mill activity becomes increasingly automated, only those issues that customers can’t solve on a self-service basis will get through. These are likely to require a much more complicated approach for which no set script can be written.
As a result, the fundamental nature of the customer service role will shift from friendly, efficient assistant to proactive troubleshooter.
The right people
This shift will have far reaching implications for talent management and training in the sector, and we are likely to see a change in operatives’ personality-type, age profile and level of qualifications.
Businesses that operate contact centers will need to adjust their working practices to attract and retain these employees, and that will mean re-working job descriptions, building in constructive coaching to help staff upskill into problem-solvers and moving away from adherence to prescriptive dialogue models.
To read the whole report, Customer service in 2027: How Automation, RPA and AI will transform the way companies deliver customer service over the next decade, click here .
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.