Why ‘Controllers’ are the future for customer service representatives
- The volume of customer service interactions handled by humans will reach 300 billion within 10 years and their complexity will increase, too
- Arvato CRM Solutions’ global Talent Enrichment Program (TEP) is equipping thousands of employees for the future
Read time: 5 minutes
We’ve written lots on Future.Customer. about how the role of the customer service representatives will change radically over the coming years as contact centers widely adopt new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
But how are those responsible for delivering customer service preparing their teams for this brave new world, which will see them handle an ever-increasing number of inquiries that are simultaneously becoming less straightforward?
Customer service interactions are growing in volume and complexity
Our latest whitepaper reported that the total number of customer service interactions handled by humans will hit 300 billion by 2027 as the total annual volume globally increases from 400 billion to three trillion. More interactions will be managed through AI, RPA and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, but those queries that are too complex for tech-driven, self-service solutions to handle will continue to be dealt with by customer service representatives.
This means the role of the customer service representative will change, with the nature of the direct interactions they have demanding more of their human skills, like empathy and problem solving.
Technology is the driver but customer service representatives make the difference
The Harvard Business Review identified seven different personality types within customer service representatives and at Arvato CRM Solutions, we think it’s the ‘Controller’ archetype whose skills will be most sought after as technology takes on a greater share of more standard inbound inquiries.
This is because Controllers want to both solve problems and guide a customer towards the best outcome that suits their specific situation. They don’t just provide long lists of options and follow process rigidly but instead think creatively.
Consider a hypothetical example in which a customer wants to return a broken phone for repair and get a replacement. A standard, if not empathetic, response might be to say, ‘You can post your phone to us, or take it into your nearest store. Whichever suits you best’. But a Controller would use tech at their disposal to determine the best outcome and say something like ‘There’s none in stock at any stores near your location, so post it to us and we’ll be able to sort it for you much more quickly.’
There are countless more instances where the human touch is required to deliver an optimal customer service outcome, such as negotiating compensation or handling multiple queries in the same interaction. Each requires a blend of soft skills to spot nuances in language or emotion in the customer’s tone of voice, alongside an ability to come up with more creative responses.
How Arvato CRM Solutions is making operations future ready
At Arvato CRM Solutions we’re always working to ensure that our representatives have the correct skills needed to deal with more sophisticated customer interactions and meet the technological challenges of the future hybrid model.
To complement this ongoing training we launched our Talent Enrichment Program (TEP), a global initiative that identifies those with Controllers-type qualities and helps them further develop the soft skills and leadership qualities they need to support representatives as they deal with more complex customer inquiries.
Working across two of our existing global client partnerships, a pilot project identified 1,500 colleagues in five different locations through a talent spotting program.
After finding our Controllers, or those we felt could easily develop controller-typical skills through the right training, we kicked off with a blend of teaching and on-the-job coaching, because there’s only so much that can be learnt in the classroom.
We focussed on areas like active listening and further developing soft skills. Much of this is already part of our management training, enabling them to complete the two side by side to support career development.
Once the customer service representatives completed their training we put them through their paces and aimed to secure them market-leading, independent qualifications before promoting them in their new careers.
Happy customer, happy customer service representatives
Involving customer service representatives in more challenging but also more rewarding interactions is all about empowerment. And empowered people make for more engaged and more motivated teams. It’s not just the customers that are receiving better outcomes.
Our TEP graduates now belong to agile working groups. This gives us access to a large pool of industry-leading talent that we can deploy at short notice, meaning we can help the brands we represent deal with seasonal peaks in demand, like the holidays in retail or vacation seasons in travel.
With 40,000 customer service representatives working across our organization globally, we have many more to train up and are excited about expanding TEP to encompass all of them.
For a sector that has historically been known for low-skilled jobs and high attrition rates, and is today undergoing a significant and rapid change brought by new technology, it is great to see the skill sets required to deliver excellent customer service are also evolving and companies like Arvato are offering exciting career paths for their employees based on personal strengths.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.