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The Brave New World of Customer Service

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: National Salvage & Service Corporation

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Technological Advances

Finding skilled customer service representatives with the ability to quickly adapt to changing technologies and marketplace realities is growing more challenging for the industry, the report says.


Alorica, a worldwide leading provider of customer management outsourcing solutions, actively recruits veterans. The company launched AloriCares, an initiative to help veterans find work, and Marianne Strobel is the Vice President who heads that up. Strobel says consumers have become savvier, so businesses must find ways to stay a step ahead of their evolving needs. Technological interfacing in the customer service realm includes video chat, click-to-chat online and tools like kiosks at Hertz car rental sites (where customer service reps come on screen and walk a customer through the rental on the terminal).


In addition, many of Alorica’s clients sell devices, laptops and computers. “The average consumer may have questions about setup or trouble shooting,” Strobel says.


C3/CustomerContactChannels, another business in this sphere, is a global customer management company that operates customer contact centers on behalf of their Fortune 500 clients. They run several centers in the United States and are also seeking veterans, says Bob Tenzer, head of HR. The company has a whole group devoted to data analytics, uniting technologies to spot trends and areas of opportunity, he says.


“We’re not just using our technology, but we also interact with our clients” technology. We get up-to-the-minute data on our business and our clients’ businesses to make real-time decisions, and use a variety of platforms to do that. They are always changing. There are ongoing improvements and new releases, and that’s interesting from an IT person’s standpoint.”


Career Advancement Options

Companies don’t want veterans to assume that all customer service jobs fit a certain stereotype, that is, people in a large room of cubicles, chatting endlessly on the phone. Besides the opportunities in technology, there are other fulfilling career paths.


Alorica promotes heavily from within. Approximately 70 percent of all Alorica employees have moved up, Strobel says. Team managers and supervisors are needed in call centers, plus the company hires veterans in HR, Quality & Assurance, Information Technology, infrastructure work and security assessment.


Positions at C3 run the gamut: customer service agent, quality assurance, supervisor, client services (“a great place for folks with diplomacy and interpersonal skills in their military careers,” Tenzer says), supervisors and operations. Veterans have also been hired into roles in personnel management, talent acquisition, IT and finance. The company provides employees with its internal university, “C3 University,” which has “learning tracks” for each area, Tenzer says.


The job outlook in the industry is excellent. “The value of our industry is understood now better than it ever has been,” Tenzer says. “It’s a world apart from only answering phones.”


At 911 Restoration, where Miller works, the typical customer service position does involve some time at cubicles and taking phone calls, but it also involves a healthy amount of analysis and planning, says PR Director Alexander Ruggie.


“This usually comes into play when our company tries to break down the success or failure of a particular service call and how to improve upon or learn from it in some way. This information is then combined with data from call volume, point of origin and connectivity to the weather systems of the time and a number of other factors that dictate certain parameters of the job,” he says.


Opportunities for advancement within 911 Restoration are many and tend to involve a transition from customer service to lead generation to sales.
“We like to hire military veterans, because they are comfortable with crisis situations which our business centers on. At the same time, they are capable of handling the stress during these situations while making informed and accurate decisions. We believe that this stems from their military training, but wherever it comes from it is a boon to our business,” Ruggie says.


Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

 

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