How Customer Service Professionals Can Embrace AI As A Career Advantage

Customer Service Woman Working Side By Side Next To A Robot In The Office

By MA. • • 6 Minutes

In the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), the fear of job displacement is a common concern among customer service professionals. If you're working in customer service and worried about the future of your role due to AI adoption within your company, this article is for you. Let's explore how you can turn this challenge into a significant career opportunity by enhancing your skillset and transitioning into a role that AI can't replace.

Step 1: Recognize the Opportunity

Businesses always seek faster and more cost-effective ways to run their operations. If your company relies on client interaction as a core business function, it's logical for them to consider adopting an AI system for this purpose. So, what should you do? Approach this from the same perspective as your business would: find a place for yourself in this new business model. Remember, your company pays you to add value to their value chain. If you continue to add value, they'll have no reason to let you go. Identify areas where human skills are irreplaceable yet still valuable to your company, such as building relationships with clients, understanding complex customer needs beyond what AI is trained on, strategic thinking, marketing and sales skills, and even negotiation.

Step 2: Enhance Your Skillset

Decide which skills you should invest time and resources in gaining. Consider telling the management of your company, "Okay, great, so the AI now will save you costs on operations. We now have the ability to utilize the available resources to expand into doing other things." As a company that involves a customer service team, you're ultimately selling products or services, or possibly providing the customer service function to other companies that sell products or services. The skills you need to choose should revolve around that: how can you offer your company ways to sell more products and services by using your new skills, stepping up from regular customer service?

Sales Skills:

AI systems are trained to provide information they were trained on, with an unbiased approach, meaning without providing their own opinion, as they don’t have one. The AI assistant doesn’t have the ability to try or experience the product or service that the user is asking about. It can describe and explain how to use it, but it will never understand it, nor understand the human need behind it. This is something both you and your company should be aware of. Hence, it’s crucial for you to learn how to build strategic relationships with the clients and users, and make sure to offer that expertise to your company. You have to say, "Hey, the automated AI chatbots should have a limit. Once reached, a human such as myself should take over." Why? Because a client with AI can only ask for what they need, and AI tends to follow the route the user is asking to go for, while a human can provide advice, make the user aware there are other options that might be even better for them, thus increasing customer satisfaction and recurring customers, which is what any company would dream of.

Consider courses like the Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate on Coursera to develop these skills.

Advanced Communication Skills:

You may think, "I don’t really need this; I’ve been working as customer service and communicating with people for a living." It's true, but now we're talking about taking your communication skills up a notch. Previously, you were answering questions, mostly from a readymade list, and attending to support clients in their existing usage of the product and service. Now, you are required to initiate different directions of discussions, try to understand what the user is unable to describe, and then effectively communicate with the user that you are aware of the tangible and intangible aspects of their requests. Enhancing your ability to communicate effectively would require working on your writing and speaking skills, which would differentiate you from AI. Consider taking "Improving Communication Skills" by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera.

Technical Proficiency:

It goes without saying, you can’t sell something you don’t know. Understanding your company’s products or services inside out is beyond crucial. Start by reading all your company’s technical literature, ask for trainings, and review what customers are asking, praising, or complaining about.

Strategic Relationship Building:

So, you are ready now to sell your clients their best choices. It is important to have recurring clients and customers to add value beyond what AI chatbots would do. How would you do that? Well, the ability to learn how to develop deeper customer relationships goes beyond solving immediate problems. Seek advice from experienced people who work in similar jobs; there are good articles about that, such as this one on building client relationships.

Analytical Skills:

You may ask, "Is it possible to beat AI at this?" Yes, it is. A company that applies an AI system for customer service won't be able to do so unless it has the resources to initially collect and analyze previous interactions with clients. However, this is not a one-time process. Maintaining a high level of satisfaction with interacting with the AI model would need constant monitoring and review of feedback, running A/B experiments to keep refining and updating the AI model. Having done the job as a customer service representative before, knowing those analytical skills is the best combination. Consider taking "Introduction to Data Analytics" by IBM on Coursera.

Project Management Skills:

So, there’s a big change in your company; they are moving people and resources into a new direction: the AI era. This change is not going to end over a meeting; this would kick off a project, most likely a big one. It’s crucial for you to find your seat on this ride. "Project Management Principles and Practices" specialization by the University of California, Irvine on Coursera offers a comprehensive foundation. Explore the course here.

Step 3: Apply Your New Skills

Once you've acquired these new skills, don't hesitate to showcase them. Propose a project at your workplace that allows you to apply these skills, such as managing a small group of clients or leading a customer success initiative. This hands-on approach will not only prove your value but also give you tangible results to demonstrate your capabilities.

Step 4: Transition into Your New Role

Upon convincing your management and showcasing your enhanced skillset, you're now in a position to transition into roles that AI cannot replace. Think of a suitable proposal for your company, putting in figures and realistic numbers as the expected ROI (return on investment) they should expect by giving you a new role in the company. You may request to manage or be a member of the team that manages the development or maintenance of the new AI system. Also, consider roles that involve being the second line of customer service, that the AI model will refer to when the discussion becomes complicated, or a role that follows up with clients post-purchase, managing important clients, or initiating sales with leads. These roles, such as Customer Success Manager, Account Manager, or Technical Account Manager, are essential for fostering long-term customer relationships, strategic planning, and contributing to product development based on customer feedback.

How JobsChat can help you

Even after all that planning and hard work, things may still not go as planned at your workplace. Let’s be realistic: irrational decisions, limited budgets, or a lack of experience in managing human resources in the presence of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence may lead management to believe they are better off without you. If that happens, don’t worry. As you have invested time and effort to acquire important skills that distinguish you from others and let you stand out in the era of AI, it will be very easy for you to find another job, even in a better place.

In the unfortunate event of this happening, AI could even be your best friend in searching and landing the best job for you. JobsChat is an AI chatbot trained to understand your experience and preferences. You can talk with it, ask questions, and seek advice. JobsChat will offer you job opportunities that are suitable for you and may even suggest jobs and areas for your job search you never thought existed or were suitable for you. Give it a try.

Resources for Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is key to staying relevant. Here are some resources to get started:

  • Coursera and Udemy for courses on sales, communication, data analysis, and project management.
  • LinkedIn Learning for soft skills and technical proficiency courses.
  • Pluralsight for in-depth tech and product courses.

Remember, the goal is to complement AI, not compete with it. By focusing on strategic relationship building, advanced communication, analytical thinking, and project management, you'll not only secure your position but also open doors to new opportunities that are both fulfilling and future-proof.

Transforming your career in the face of AI isn't just about survival; it's about thriving in the new digital era. Embrace this change with open arms and an eager mind, and you'll find that the future is bright and brimming with possibilities.