Grainne O’Kane, Director People Services at HGS explores the challenges and rewards of working in the evolving world of customer experience.
Delivering excellent customer experience (CX) is at the top of the agenda for many businesses. From driving sales to promoting loyalty, creating a positive experience is extremely valuable. To truly harness its potential, businesses need the best CX talent. While there are many age-old myths about working in CX, it’s a rewarding role that has evolved in recent years. Now, a career in CX is a great option for ambitious professionals wanting to make a difference to customers and their workplace.
Busting the myths of CX roles
There are plenty of myths surrounding a career in customer experience, including old-fashioned office environments, poor working conditions and a lack of progression.
One of the biggest myths surrounding CX is that customer service is an entry-level role that can be done without qualifications. While it is a role that suits people from all educational backgrounds, there are also many opportunities to develop professionally and gain qualifications to further enhance skills. Service employees are key to company growth in today’s competitive landscape, so having teams that are as qualified as possible is a huge benefit for businesses, their customers and CX employees.
Even with the growing number of opportunities open to career-minded professionals, people may have negative perceptions of the contact centre environment. For many businesses, this might have once been the norm. However, this is all changing. Workplaces across the country have undergone significant transformations to become more people-friendly and enable productivity to flourish. Many organisations have updated and improved their office space while also offering remote and hybrid work options to ensure staff have flexibility.
The challenges and rewards of CX
Despite many positive changes taking place within the CX environment, working in customer experience and service is still a challenge – particularly during a cost of living crisis where teams interact with vulnerable customers. It’s also possible that CX teams are facing an increased workload because of budget cuts.
However, just as the nature of the work brings unique challenges, it brings unique rewards for people who want to spend their days helping others and providing solutions. People who are empathetic, great listeners and strong communicators are well-suited to a role in CX and are likely to progress rapidly.
As the CX environment experiences an evolution, now is the ideal time to reap the benefits of home working, more sophisticated technologies and the rewarding nature of the job. Sourcing and retaining talent must be a priority for businesses, from junior to senior levels, meaning that there are a great deal of opportunities out there for people who are service-oriented.
Finding and keeping the right candidates will ensure that customers continue to experience a consistently high standard of care, while having the right tools and strong leadership will ensure that CX teams are driven, motivated and able to thrive within their roles.
Culture is key
Delivering the best customer service requires the best possible customer service team. Many businesses have faced – and will continue to face – challenges when it comes to hiring new talent and retaining existing employees. From ‘quiet quitting’ to ‘rage applying’, a new trend seems to appear every month that highlights employee behaviour in response to unsatisfactory work environments. This has been particularly prominent following the pandemic, which for many people was a time of reflection that included evaluating what they want from work.
An employee-centric culture is key, and this goes beyond the HR team. Office perks and compensation enhance the employee experience, but investing in personal and professional development is what really proves a business cares about its people. This means offering flexible and remote working to promote work-life balance for employees. Staff who have more flexibility at work are likely to be happier, and knowing they have that freedom enhances their commitment to their work and organisation.
The employee experience also influences the quality of the CX. Happy, engaged employees can form better relationships with customers, feel more creative and represent the business in a positive light. Put simply, the better the employee experience, the better the customer experience.
As the CX environment evolves, now is the ideal time to reap the benefits of home working, improved technologies and the rewarding nature of the job. There are a huge number of opportunities to start, grow and progress in a CX career, so it is crucial that organisations provide a supportive, welcoming environment in which their employees can succeed. Do this, and more and more people will opt to enter the world of CX, and remain there in the long term.