Agents for Change – Leaders are you Listening?

Business news is often filled with details of an organisation’s strategy, its plans for the future, its objectives for financial growth and keeping the brand promises it holds dear. On the flip side we also regularly hear of consumer woes, gripes, complaints, delights, and how they achieve their aspirations through the brands they consume.

However, at the core of any organisation are its people so why don’t we hear more from them? Those that deal with customers day in and day out, trying to solve issues, manage concerns, reassure and guide through complicated processes. Those responsible for living the brand values, keeping promises and trying to help in the best way that they can.

More than 1m people in the UK and Ireland are responsible for delivering customer service across brands big and small, private sector and public sector, on behalf of clients, along with a growing cohort of homeworkers. CCA has been working to better understand what it’s actually like to be a customer service advisor today and what might it look like tomorrow. With Kura and Inisoft as one of our partners, we have been directly surveying those whose job it is to talk to customers and those who are responsible for managing those teams. And, we’ve had some interesting results so far.

We’ve talked to almost 600 individuals across five different sectors and at all levels in the business but with the voice of the advisor being most prevalent.

What we can quickly ascertain is that we have a predominantly young workforce with around 65% aged under 35 and the dominance of this demographic is likely to rise as younger generations enter the workforce. A valid question to ask is – are we ready for them? Are we prepared for meeting their needs? Do we understand how to maximise on their skill-set and capabilities?

We also have a very highly educated workforce. Over 60% have A level/Higher and further education qualifications. Are we using that capability to take our businesses forward?

Often our processes and businesses are set up for a 20th century environment that is just not aligned with a younger generation in mind. But we do have an amazing opportunity at our finger tips if we can understand how to unlock that capability to better serve our customers. With a relatively young workforce – millennials and the beginnings of Gen Z – collaboration and different ways of working is important to them. How can we embrace that for future success?

From the research, we can also tell that our workforce come to work and want to do a good job! They are qualified and want to do well. They don’t turn up with the intention of doing a bad job! Are our systems, structures and processes unintentionally limiting their capabilities and drive to succeed? Most cite the things they like about their job as helping customers, working as part of a team and achieving good performance.

The three top frustrations reported by customer service advisors are: too much focus on targets; using outdated technology and it not being understood or appreciated that it’s a tough job! What’s this telling us? They are working round old systems, old methodologies and please don’t forget it’s not an easy!

Some of the most effective and often simplest transformations can be uncovered by talking to the right people in your business. Perhaps it’s time we talked more to those talking to our customers to unlock what our future service offering might look like. As the old saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth so leaders – are you listening?

To get your hands on a summary of this new report click here.