4 Skills That Service Professionals Need to Thrive in the Digital Economy

In recent years, innovation and disruptions have become commonplace across industries. One of the main drivers is technology, particularly in the digitalization of business operations. It changes the dynamics of how businesses operate, making a shift in demand for human expertise imminent.

The digital revolution has become the biggest game changer for many industries, including service sectors such as retail, hospitality, and food and beverage. Increasingly, organizations are developing the capabilities needed to support digital skills that could bring significant productivity increases and innovations that will help them leapfrog the competition.

Digital platforms have altered workforce deployment and the way companies deliver services. Today, the line between online transactions and offline transactions is becoming blurred as customers are more empowered in their purchasing. They are now able to dictate place, time and even price while sharing their thoughts and emotions. As a result, there is an increasing demand for service staff to be more connected with customers and for technology to serve their needs (e.g., through predictive analytics).

In addressing those challenges, what can organizations do to help service professionals stay relevant? Service professionals need to develop a positive mindset toward continuous learning and become more receptive to feedback.  They can adopt what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for self- or team development. With a growth mindset, service professionals can develop these four key skills to achieve higher performance for the organization.

1. Collaboration

Service professionals can enhance their performance by leveraging collaborative applications to communicate and learn from co-workers, mentors and practitioners across disciplines. For example, companies can create service design challenges for teams to compete in and learn from. Collaboration complements service skills development and creates momentum toward achieving organizational goals.

2. Design Thinking

Design thinking offers tremendous potential for service-oriented businesses. Service professionals can start using design thinking principles by developing empathy for their customers and a thorough understanding of the customer journey, starting from the first contact and leading to after the sale. Once they identify their shortcomings and limitations, they can collaborate with their peers and supervisors to explore new ideas and develop solutions to improve the service they provide their customers.

3. Digital Literacy

Service professionals need to develop not only competencies that deal with day-to-day digital transactions (i.e., online requests, purchasing, fulfillment issues, product feedback, etc.) but also skills in the following areas:

Social media, which provides information about consumer and industry trendsThe digital tools that enable them to be more productive when serving customersBasic cybersecurity, so they can safeguard customer and corporate information

4. Learning Agility

Learning agility is the ability and willingness to learn from experience and then apply that learning in a new situation. These collective practices allow service professionals and team to continually develop and use new approaches to solving increasingly complex problems at the front line of the business.

E-commerce, new mobile technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are gaining a massive foothold in organizations across industries, and they are here to stay. As a result, service professionals not only need to develop new skills continuously, but they also need to adopt a growth mindset in their quest to be successful in this digital age.

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