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In a very short time, customer support has come a long way – from a single phone number or email address, to contact centers with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees. In the early days, a support role was considered a “starter job” because most people could enter the industry with any educational background or experience.

But things are different today. Customer support is now a business-critical function across industries. Support Advisors are in a great position to forge meaningful customer connections, enhance experiences, garner loyalty, and ultimately impact the organization’s bottom line. For all these reasons, customer-facing service reps are among the most valuable employees in a company.

The Importance of Customer Service and Support

In a 2015 blog post, Martin Gustafsson explains why every department in an organization should focus on “customer centricity” – the idea that customers should be at the center of all operational aspects. But while this “customer service is everyone’s job approach” is crucial, a well-functioning customer support department is also vital because it takes a certain type of person whose only job is to deal with customers in a front-facing role. Moreover:

  • 90% of customers value the quality of customer service when choosing or remaining loyal to a brand.
  • If expectations fall short, 58% show little hesitation in severing the relationship.
  • 88% consider customer service important in their purchasing decisions.

(Source: Microsoft)

Customers also have higher expectations for service than they did in the past. They also view brands more favorably if they are proactive and responsive to both queries and complaints. Advisors are at the center of these customer expectations and needs, and customer support is at the core of an organization’s success and longevity.

Automation Does not Negate the Need for People-to-People Contact

In 2017, experts predicted that by 2020, 85% of customer service interactions will be handled automatically, i.e. without the need for a human advisor. Other predictions are also positive about the future of customer support automation led by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and chatbots. In fact, 34% and 32% of leaders believe that AI and chatbots (respectively) will most improve customer experience in the future. One report also suggests that AI will power 95% of customer interactions by 2025, while another predicts that in 2021, 47% of organizations will implement customer support chatbots.

But despite such a favorable climate for automation, the human factor in customer support remains more important than ever:

  • 68% of customers say that a pleasant customer service rep is key to a positive service experience
  • For 62%, it was a rep’s knowledge or resourcefulness
  • Also, 73% say that they fall in love with a brand if they encounter friendly customer service reps

In short, increasing automation in customer support does not eliminate the need for people-oriented, business-savvy customer support advisors, in fact, it underscores the need for an empathetic and customer-centric support executive. So, those who have these skills already – or are willing to develop these skills – can expect to have successful careers in the customer support industry.

Companies Are Investing More in Customer Support

As far back as 2013, Deloitte found that 62% of organizations considered customer experience delivered by contact centers as a “competitive differentiator”. A few years later, a Gartner survey discovered that 75% of organizations had increased customer experience technology investments in 2018.

Most recently, in June 2021, a survey found that for almost 46% of business professionals, customer experience is the top business priority in the next 5 years and that 88% of companies prioritize customer experience in their contact centers. Considering that the customer experience management market is predicted to be worth $14.9 billion by 2025, it’s obvious that companies see the value of focusing on customer experience and improving their customer service/support to improve these experiences.

These jobs require specialized talent and skills. A great customer support executive is patient, empathetic, a good listener, and confident. They make fast decisions to solve customers’ problems and take accountability for their actions. People with these competencies can have successful careers as support advisors and even contact center team leaders, supervisors, and managers. Further, they can build a rewarding career path in customer support that offers many new opportunities for learning, development, and growth.

Conclusion

As they help customers solve a variety of problems, customer support advisors develop emotional intelligence and business savvy and build transferable skills like problem-solving, decision-making, communication, and collaboration. All these qualities are in high demand in the business world, so those who have these skills can stand apart from their peers, and enjoy long and rewarding careers.

In the future, customer support will become even more business-critical. To maintain their competitive position, companies will need proficient advisors with the perfect mix of technical and people skills. Demand for these individuals will keep growing. That’s why it’s time to stop looking at customer service as an entry-level role but as a rewarding career pathway.

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer support is at the core of an organization’s success and longevity.
  • To maintain a competitive position, companies in the future will need proficient advisors with the perfect mix of technical and people skills.
  • 90% of customers value the quality of customer service when choosing or remaining loyal to a brand.
  • 73% of customers say that they fall in love with a brand if they encounter friendly customer service reps.
  • 68% of customers say that a pleasant customer service rep is key to a positive service experience.
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