Workforce trend report: Customer service trumps cost as king

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A trend report from the workforce strategy team at nonprofit College for America uncovers the growing labor market demand for customer service experts, driven by increasingly savvy customers.

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Even as companies rely more heavily on technology solutions, customer representative jobs are projected to grow 13 percent by 2022.

Customer service representatives with problem-solving and communication skills are needed to support today’s informed and connected customers. Yet qualified candidates are often in short supply, even as business needs grow rapidly, according to a newly released workforce trend report by the nonprofit College for America at Southern New Hampshire University.

The seven-page report, “Customer Service Trumps Cost as King: How customer expectations are reshaping business needs and skills requirements,” is available for download here: http://www.collegeforamerica.org/customer-service-report

“Even as companies rely more heavily on technology solutions, customer representative jobs are projected to grow 13 percent by 2022,” said Melissa Goldberg, primary report author and Senior Workforce Strategist at College for America.

This report explores why good customer service is increasingly important in today’s growing and competitive marketplaces and how that is affecting the requirements of customer service roles across many industries, including retail, insurance, and banking. It also identifies steps businesses can take to attract and retain high-potential service representatives, such as educating employees, giving staff more autonomy to solve problems, and compensating customer service employees competitively.

This report is the product of the workforce strategies team at College for America, which is dedicated to better connecting higher education, workforce research, and labor market trends. For more workforce strategy reports, visit http://www.collegeforamerica.org/workforce.

About College for America at Southern New Hampshire University

College for America offers affordable, workforce-applicable higher education to working adults by partnering with employers nationwide. Since its launch, CfA has enrolled more than 1,000 students from more than 70 employers, including the University of Pennsylvania Health System, McDonald’s, the Gap Inc., Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Goodwill International.

In 2013, CfA became the nation’s first competency-based, fully accredited higher education provider to be approved for federal financial aid, independent of the traditional credit hour model, for its associate’s degree program. In May 2014, the school announced the approval of the first nationally available, accredited $10,000 bachelor’s degree in the field of communications.

Southern New Hampshire University is an accredited, nonprofit, private university with a focus on student success and a reputation for innovation in higher education. SNHU was named one of the “50 Most Innovative Organizations in the World” by Fast Company magazine in 2012 and is one of the fastest-growing nonprofit providers of online higher education in the country. The university’s home is a 300-acre main campus in Manchester, NH, and it offers more than 200 undergraduate and graduate online degree programs, five continuing education centers across Northern New England, and the College for America degree program for working adults and employers.

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Linnae Selinga