Shifting Talent Strategies to Drive Low-Effort Resolution

Traditionally, customer service has been viewed as a reactive function, responsible for issue resolution and customer satisfaction via inbound requests. However, there is a shift happening where the customer service function is now under pressure to deliver business outcomes like growth and loyalty. Service leaders are keenly aware that their function can no longer just react. They must actively contribute to their organizations' growth strategy, and doing so will require new talent strategies.

In a recent Gartner survey of service leaders, 58 percent said growing the business is among their top three business goals in 2023. Leaders are turning to customer data analytics and self-service adoption to help them accomplish these objectives. In fact, 75 percent of them said self-service adoption and containment is either important or extremely important. Providing low-effort issue resolution remains the bedrock of customer service and key to driving customer loyalty.

As self-service channels become more effective at resolving simple customer issues, reps will increasingly deal with complexity. Service leaders must focus their talent strategy on identifying and hiring reps who demonstrate traits that improve their ability to deliver low-effort resolution in this increasingly complex environment.

There are four traits service leaders should actively seek in new hires to drive low-effort resolution:

  1. Proactive and Solution-Oriented: Reps with this tendency see outcomes rather than obstacles and are anticipatory with the end goal in mind. This ensures customers don't need to ask twice. The rep is ahead of the game and prepared to guide the customer to resolution.
  2. Confident and Outspoken: The desire to make their presence known and give customers direction characterizes reps with these traits. Many customers, after failing in self-service, need someone who's not afraid to ask questions and be curious to help them resolve their issue.
  3. Comfortable Taking Charge: Reps with this tendency are comfortable taking command in the absence of direction. This is important since customers need explicit guidance on what's happening in the interaction and what they should expect.
  4. Problem-Solver: Reps who are inherent problem-solvers have a growth mindset and think outside the box. This enables low-effort resolution and recognition of potential forward issues.

Hiring Reps With Traits Needed To Deliver Low-Effort Resolution

Beyond understanding the traits necessary for their service and support organizations, service leaders can optimize their recruiting processes to hire people who can deliver low-effort customer service interactions. Here are a few tips to achieve that:

  • Communicate the desired rep traits with recruiters and embed recruiters in critical contact center moments to provide additional insights on trait identification.
  • Create compelling job descriptions to attract reps with traits that enable low-effort service interactions.
  • Expand your sourcing network beyond those with customer service experience to attract nontraditional candidates with these tendencies.
  • Adapt the interview structure with behavior-based questions to efficiently assess for desired traits.
  • Improve recruiting of reps with low-effort traits by highlighting areas that they enjoy in the job posting, such as task ownership, taking charge, planning, or making decisions.

Service leaders must also ensure that they are upskilling the existing workforce. Coaching and training can help develop the traits that might appear less dominant during the hiring process.

To effectively upskill reps to deliver low-effort service, service leaders should equip managers to provide targeted coaching to reinforce training on competencies and rep behaviors. They can also integrate behaviors into their QA program to enable reps to be coached for development.

Other areas for them to explore upskilling include partnering with learning and development functions within the organization to create a training plan for upskilling reps, as well as connect reps to experienced peers to sustain and reinforce the lessons from the training sessions.

Candidates who demonstrate traits that best support low-effort resolution of complex customer inquiries can effectively own the customer relationship and advocate for customers when they feel the situation is appropriate. The ability to quickly navigate new tools and technology is not an issue for reps who are comfortable dealing with ambiguity. Reps who are confident demonstrate their ability to clearly communicate throughout the service interaction, instilling confidence in the customer that their issue will be resolved as quickly as possible.

Jonathan Schmidt is a senior principal analyst within Gartner's Customer Service and Support Practice.