9 Ways That the Contact Centre Advisor Role Will Change in the Future


A photo of a futuristic-looking advisor

Martin Jukes shares his thoughts on how the contact centre advisor job may develop in the not-so-distant future.

Contact centres have been the prime interface for customers when engaging with organizations for many years. However, with developments in technology delivering automation and enabling customers to self-serve, many people believe that the role of the contact centre advisor is a job that will disappear.

While I do not believe that this will be the case, I do see that the future role will be a different and a more highly regarded role.

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Many people believe that the role of the advisor will disappear. While I do not believe that this will be the case, I do see that the future role will be a different and a more highly regarded role.

Early in my career I was responsible for the delivery of an IT support service to an organization. This was delivered through two teams: an IT Help Desk and a team of PC engineers (hardware and software).

The Help Desk team were excellent; their key role was to provide an interface between the end user and the engineer. They took details of the problem, diagnosed the issue and logged the job for the engineer. The engineer then worked through the list of jobs and visited each of the faulty desktops and worked their magic.

Fast-forward to the present day and we have specialists that deal directly with enquiries and resolve the problem. These people are highly trained, but can also utilize remote diagnostic technology to resolve the issue. This is a more efficient and effective model. Of course the salary levels are higher, but the overall salary budget has reduced because fewer people are required.

If we relate this example to a customer service model, then we can see significant opportunity and change in the type of contact being handled by contact centres.

1. Enquiries Handled by Contact Centres Will Increase in Complexity

Much greater information is available online so customers often resolve their issues themselves with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or similar.

Self-serve facilities enable customers to complete numerous transactions themselves so they don’t need to speak or chat with anyone. So it is clear that the simple transactions are not getting through to contact centres as they used to.

The first observation is that the content of future customer interaction will become more complex or at least difficult from the customer’s perspective.

With this in mind, the first observation is that the content of future customer interaction will become more complex or at least difficult from the customer’s perspective.

2. Complex Enquiries Take Longer to Resolve

The second observation is that more complex enquiries will take longer to resolve.

For example, if I wanted to book a rail ticket from London to Birmingham, it is fairly simple and I would do that online. However, if I also wanted to book a series of journeys using numerous routes and different times of travel, with some being first class and others standard, then it would take much longer and I would probably seek advice. This complexity will mean that contact durations will increase.

3. Advisors Will Need to Have Greater Technical and Product Knowledge

As the world becomes more technology dependent, with the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, mobile communications, etc. all making life ‘easier’, the level of technical knowledge required to support customers is increasing.

An advisor will need to understand more about how a product works and what it requires to function correctly.

Smart products have greater connectivity and rely on wifi and an internet connection to operate fully. Self-diagnostics in products often generate error codes or shut down functionality. As a result, an advisor will need to understand more about how a product works and what it requires to function correctly.

A lot of this information is available to advisors through knowledge bases and AI, but these have to be interpreted, and customers will want to talk with somebody when they are having difficulties.

4. Contact Levels Are Not Reducing

There is evidence that contact volumes are increasing. This is a surprise to many, but in reality, we live in a world where the rate of change is increasing, which in turn provides greater complexity and greater choice.

Yes, there is some channel shift to automated service, but there is still a need and a desire to engage with a person when unable to complete the task easily.

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For many organizations, there has been an investment in channel shift and moving customers towards using channels that require a more flexible response.

Of course, for many organizations, there has been an investment in channel shift and moving customers towards using channels that require a more flexible response.  This in itself is also causing additional volume as technology does not always work properly or customers are unable to use it effectively.

5. Different Skills for Different Channels

The development of the contact centre has led to a position where a wider range of communication skills are required. The ability to converse well with a customer using the telephone has now been overtaken by the need to communicate well across various media, including email, chat and social media.

These different channels each has its own unique variations in terms of the style and content of language used, and it is essential that the advisor in the future understands this and is able to adapt.

6. Customer-Focused Communication Skills Are Essential

A couple of factors highlight the need for improved communication skills. The increase in types of communications media is one, with another being the fact that the need to interact is increasing due to the added complexity of services and products.

The ability to communicate effectively when understanding a customer’s issue and then being able to relay information or instructions in a manner that is understood by the recipient is key to a successful outcome.

The ability to operate at the customer’s level will become more essential, as will the ability to translate complexity into simplicity.

When I look back to the IT environment that I worked in 20 years ago, the engineers were very good technically, and they were nice people, but they were not good at explaining what they were doing or why they were doing it.

The ability to operate at the customer’s level will become more essential, as will the ability to translate complexity into simplicity.

7. 24-Hour Service Expectation

There is an expectation that service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently this is delivered primarily through automated solutions, with a human touch being available during defined working hours.

The questions are: how long will this be acceptable? And will we see organizations stealing the march on competitors by offering a 24-hour personal service?

It may be essential as the working population working a standard 9:00 to 5:00 day has reduced, with the result that they want to engage when it suits them. This may even be a case of people working in the service industry placing a higher demand on that industry.

Many people revert to using social media to vent frustrations when the contact centre is closed.

An added factor may well be that social media is used at all times, not just when a contact centre is open. Indeed, many people revert to using social media to vent frustrations when the contact centre is closed.

8. Comparative Roles Will Change

When recruiting for a contact centre, alternatives sources of employment have typically been in other contact centres or similar activities including retail and administration. Typically, new advisors  are given minimal training as they can start working quickly.

What can be deduced from the discussion in this article is that the advisor in the future will be different.

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Advisors will be more skilled in 4 main areas: communication, technology, working across different channels and solution development.

For starters, they will be more skilled in 4 main areas: communication, technology, working across different channels and solution development.

Whilst these skills exist in contact centres now, they are not necessarily the recruitment criteria.

9. Salary Levels Will Increase

Taking all of the above into account, it is evident that as customer communication becomes more solution-driven than simply contact handling, there is a strong case for increasing salary levels.

Recruitment and retention will be critical in ensuring that advisors can complete the role with efficiency, effectiveness and empathy.

In Summary

There are likely to be changes to the role of the contact centre advisor. Technology is a real driver of change and it will change roles for many people. For contact centre advisors, this change will see them being highly skilled in a wider area of work than previously.

A thumbnail photo of Martin Jukes

Martin Jukes

Forward-thinking organizations will look to improve performance by investing in quality people who will contribute to the bottom line with efficiency and customer loyalty/retention.

A contact centre advisor role is often seen as a stepping stone or a first job when starting work; in the future it could be a rewarding career.

Thanks to Martin Jukes, the Managing Director at Mpathy Plus, for sharing this article with us.

For more from Martin, read our articles:

Published On: 31st Jul 2019 - Last modified: 7th Aug 2019
Read more about - Call Centre Life, , , ,


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