Many companies have invested in automation tools to handle mundane CX chores — answering questions about account balances, for example — displacing many in the CX profession. However, the outlook ahead for CX jobs is positive, according to those in the industry.
Data from ICMI’s State of the Contact Center Report revealed that 8 out of 10 contact centers are now ready to hire, with half planning to create new roles in addition to filling vacancies. Meanwhile, only 1% plan to downsize, with just 17% continuing a hiring freeze this year.
We have a somewhat unique vantage point because we are CX practitioners as well as service providers, said Trista Walker, Baldwin & Obenauf president and CEO.
“On the client side, we’re seeing expansion of CX capability (and therefore career opportunities) in several areas,” Walker explained. “In addition to encountering more CX professionals among our client teams and, in particular, our Fortune 100 clients, we’re seeing CX practice extend beyond the external customer lens with an increased focus on employee/associate experience. This creates a whole new area of focus for CX professionals — at increasingly senior levels.”
One of the company’s clients — a Fortune 100 company — recently created a new CX senior leadership role within their dedicated employee experience team, signaling increasing importance of CX principles across all stakeholder audiences, said Walker, adding that one of the company’s research partners had seen research objectives related to employee and candidate experience over the past two quarters.
“The second area we’re seeing growth is in CX practice being extended beyond the CX team and a select few marketers,” Walker added. “We’re currently supporting a large healthcare client as they implement a customized, enterprise CX training program that will initially focus on their commercial organization. Several hundred associates will participate in the training.”
Baldwin & Obenauf is also expanding its own team to respond to the increased interest in CX-driven ROI analyses, according to Walker. “We added two net new analyst positions in the first quarter to support this growth.”
“In the early stages of the pandemic, we pivoted our research capability and our collaboration methodologies to support remote customer (and employee) research as well as remote/online persona building, journey mapping and more,” Walker said. “The demand for these services among clients has been a notable driver of our agency growth over the past two years.”
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Shift to Specialists
The nature of CX is changing with the shift to digitalization during the pandemic, said Colin Crowley, CX advisor for Freshworks.
“Some businesses may opt to hire less frontline CX support people, such as customer support representatives, while others use more AI-based innovations and self-service technologies such as chatbots to handle more of the routine and mundane inquiries,” he said. “There will always be a need for a human touch though, leading to a rise in hiring for more specialized positions in CX.”
Crowley explained that this shift will mean CX positions get filled by specialists who can problem solve complex situations, resulting in higher regard for these positions and more career opportunities.
“CX organizations are now more likely to embrace areas outside of reactive customer support — for instance, managing social media and online reputation management, pioneering proactive engagement with customers and handling specialized support needs in a multitude of business areas,” he said.
Crowley expects to see a natural extension of this trend in the next five years as customer experience becomes its own vertical and CX organizations encompass a wide variety of operational teams outside of just customer support — including areas like marketing and sales.
“We are seeing a growing number of requests relating to customer experience, employee experience, etc., which suggests that overall it is still an expanding field,” added Philip Bates, operations director for FieldworkHub.
“Typically, there is growth in research areas relating to external shocks, e.g., the clients that we work with want to know how the behavior of their customers changes as a result of the pandemic, the cost of living crunch, concerns about global warming, etc. With a tight labor market, companies also need to focus on attracting and retaining, so we see employee and candidate research as another growth area.”
The key risk that FieldworkHub sees for the CX profession, said Bates, is if rising prices lead to a squeeze on company profits and more unemployment in the medium term. Then, CX looks like a relatively soft target for layoffs.
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Early-Stage Growth for Some
Healthcare and life sciences, both of which are in the early stages of CX, are experiencing accelerations, permutations and good and bad growing pains, according to Richard Schwartz, Medallia life sciences industry CX practice lead.
It can be hard for organizations to receive feedback that challenges what they thought was going well. When companies largely map the impact on financials to operational metrics, and voice of the customer is absent, it’s likely to miss sentiments that are hard to hear yet still very important.
“I think it is a good sign that these industries are looking beyond their own walls and those of direct competitors, willing to bring in customer experience experts from other verticals like retail, hospitality and high tech,” Schwartz said. “These are the places where expectations for experiences are set when people are not busy being providers and patients. We saw a similar trend in the introduction [of] chief digital officers to pharma several years back.”
As organizations bring in experts from the outside and surround them with industry-specific leaders, the job postings get better — more interesting and plentiful, said Schwartz. The organizations with mature CX mindsets understand that CX is a competitive advantage, and in healthcare, everyone surrounding patients and providers needs to get better at it.