Industry Research : Attract & Retain Young Talents to Upkeep the High Level of Customer Services
With the theme "Excel Beyond Limits" and the mission to foster service excellence in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACE) collaborated with CSG to conduct a research study to understand the perception and expectation towards the Customer Service industry in Hong Kong from both customers and frontline staff.
The study was conducted in Dec 2016 and we interviewed a total of 1,300 respondents for this study:
1. Hong Kong customers (N = 500)
2. Customer Service employers (N = 200)
3. Young Customer Service employees (N = 300)
4. Young graduates job seekers (N = 300)
All interviews were conducted via an online survey.
We also conducted focus groups in January 2017 with CS employees and employers from big corporations to understand their perspective on working in the customer service industry.
Hong Kong customer service quality remains at a high level
Amongst all respondents surveyed, 80% of Hong Kong customers have experienced good customer service in the past 12 months. Compared with previous years, we found that good experience has been maintained at a high level since 2013 (ranging from 80% to 83% in 2013 to 2016). In contrast, only 24% of Hong Kong customers have experienced bad customer service in the past 12 months in 2016. Dissatisfaction towards service in Hong Kong declined significantly from 41% in 2013.
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Hong Kong customers are more willing to show appreciation
The survey also revealed that more customers have shown appreciation to customer service staff (from 92% in 2013 to 99% in 2016), reflecting an improvement over the years in the quality of Customer Service in Hong Kong and that our effort in promoting service appreciation culture is seeing its effect (see Figure 1).
Both young job seekers and CS employees perceive that the CS industry has long working hours and high pressure
The study reveals that only 32% of young job seekers considered working in customer service industry as full-time. 81% of young job seekers consider long working hours and high pressure are the key problems working in the Customer Service industry. At the same time, there are 74% of young Customer Service employees share the same perception. This reflects that working hours and pressure are a general perception about the Customer Service industry (see Figure 2).
However, there are ways to help Customer Service employees to be more engaging in the industry. A young Customer Service employee working in branch commented, "the company and my team are very supportive. When we are stressful with customers, we will share in team sharing session. They will teach us how to deal with difficult situations and we will discuss how to solve problems."
Encouraging Work-Life balance can effectively support talent acquisition and retention
Both young job seekers and Customer Service employees regarded the followings factors are the top considerations in taking a job in the customer service industry:
1. Basic salary
2. Working hours
3. Opportunities for promotion
4. Working environment
Our research showed that Customer Service employers do recognize the importance of the factors above which are ranked at the top by the job seekers and employees. However, there is a major discrepancy on one important factor.
Both young job seekers and young Customer Service employees ranked work-life balance as the fourth most important factor when choosing or staying in the Customer Service industry respectively. However, Customer Service employers ranked work-life balance very low at the 13th position in their ranking of importance in retaining their talent (see Figure 3). The alignment of work-life balance with employees must be addressed by employers in order to attract and retain talents and to continue driving strong customer service excellence in Hong Kong.
Ms. Cally Chan, Vice Chairman of HKACE says, "Given the tight supply of young joiners in the market, employers inevitably put considerable resources on recruiting and sourcing job talents. In fact, employers must also understand that spending resources for sustaining a stable workforce and retaining people are equally important. Inspired by the research, besides offering competitive salary, what employers can do is provide their employees with a better career path and a happier workplace. The employers' and employees' big gap on perceiving "work-life balance" is rather alarming. Realizing that "work-life balance" is indeed a luxury to most HK people, many corporations with foresight will set out to promote a healthy work life and uplift staff engagement by organizing staff engagement activities and wellness programs. HKACE is surely the platform for our members to share their best practices in this area."
Conclusion: Attracting job seekers to the CS industry
Overall, this year's survey reveals that the quality of customer service in Hong Kong is encouraging. However, the research also unveils that only one-third of young job seekers are willing to enter this industry. Helping them understand more of the positive sides of the customer service industry and focusing on work-life balance are two effective ways to attract young job seekers to enter the industry.
Mr. Arnold Cheng, Chairman of HKACE concludes, "We are delighted to see a consistently high level of satisfaction on the Customer Services in Hong Kong, especially reflected in the significant drop in bad experience over the years. Attracting young talents to join the Customer Service industry to upkeep its high level of service is emerging as a major challenge nowadays. Through the research, we are happy to have identified the key areas we can work on to attract and retain young talents to work in the industry. HKACE will continue to work with our member companies to advocate Customer Service Excellence in Hong Kong by providing a platform for learning, sharing and encouraging best practices in the industry."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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