In today’s business world, when the competition is steep and so many companies have been forced to deal with the fallout of a global crisis, it’s never been more important for organizations to ensure they are not only meeting the needs of the customers they serve, but that they are exceeding their expectations. As a result, so many companies are now looking to hire customer service agents, making it the perfect time to either break into the customer service industry, or if you are already working in the industry, to advance your career. Either way, read on to find out some helpful information related to finding a job in this hugely popular industry.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Customer Service Jobs
Customer service agents are responsible for helping companies ensure customer satisfaction. Agents help to resolve issues, answer questions, process orders and returns, and so much more. In other words, customer service agents are invaluable to the organizations they work for; hence why these professionals are always in high-demand. For some help getting started with your resume, check out this helpful starter guide.
With that said, if you’re thinking about breaking into the customer service industry or you’re already an agent and you want to advance your career, before you proceed – as with any other job – it’s a good idea to make sure that working (or continuing to work) in this field is the right choice for you. Like any other industry, there are pros and cons to working as a customer service representative, and below, we’ve highlighted some of the top advantages and disadvantages.
- Minimal to no experience required. One of the biggest reasons why customer service jobs are so popular is because little to no previous experience is required. Most companies offer comprehensive training programs that will provide you with the skills that are necessary to successfully fulfill your responsibilities.
- Advancement opportunities. Typically, customer service jobs are entry-level positions; however, they are usually quite flexile, are secure, and the skills that are acquired are easily transferable. In fact, even the most basic entry-level positions can lead to advancement, which is definitely a good thing for those who are just starting out but want to work in an industry where they won’t stagnate and can continue to acquire new skills and grow their career.
- Income opportunities. If the idea of earning an extra income on top of your base wages sounds appealing to you, than working as a customer service rep may be a good fit. Many companies that employ customer care agents offer commission and bonus payments for things like successfully upselling products and services, or for successfully remedying a certain amount of customer issues.
- Acquire new skills. Believe it or not, working as a customer service representative provides the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills. Examples of the skills that you can acquire and hone in this position include interpersonal skills, problem solving, communication, compassion, listening, and more; all skills that you can use to further advance your career, whether within this field or another one – and that you can apply to your daily life.
- Lots of responsibility. Ensuring the happiness of others is a big responsibility, which means that customer service agents have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. For some people, this can be very demanding, stressful, and exhausting.
- Burn out. Though customer service can be rewarding, it can also be very challenging. Trying to manage high call volumes, dealing with angered, frustrated, or otherwise unhappy customers, and juggling so many different tasks at one time can be extremely daunting. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for customer service agents to eventually feel burnt out.
- Wacky schedule. As opposed to the traditional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 work schedule, customer service agents often have to work irregular schedules. While this flexibility may be one of the appeals of working in this industry initially, eventually, working at irregular times can be daunting and difficult to handle.
How to Advance Your Customer Service Career
Working as a customer service agent is beneficial for a variety of reasons. One of the most notable benefits is the advancement opportunities. You don’t have to stay in the same place you started and become stagnant, but rather, you can seek bigger and better opportunities. If you’re just breaking into the field or you’re already working in the customer service industry, you may be wondering how you can advance your career. Here’s a look at some of the different advancement roles that you could possibly consider.
- Supervisor. Customer service supervisors are the professionals that other agents go to when they need guidance and assistance. It’s a leadership role, and though it comes with more responsibilities, it also usually comes with a sizeable pay increase. As a supervisor, you’ll train new representatives, assist agents with assisting customers, and you’ll help to improve the productivity and efficiency of your team. In order to fulfill the role of a customer service supervisor, you’ll need the following skills:
- Proficiency with computer programs, such as Excel and Word
- Effective written and verbal communication skills
- Technical expertise
- Customer service manager. Once you have worked as a customer service representative for a while, you might want to advance your career even further. The next position after a supervisor is a manager. In this role, you’ll take on more responsibilities as a team leader, and as you guide your team, your earnings potential even further. You’ll need to hone your skills in order to fill a position as a customer service manager, and the workload and responsibilities will be even more demanding; however, with the increased demands comes a bigger income and feelings of satisfaction. Do note, depending on the company you’re working for, a college degree may be required.
- Customer experience manager. Customer experience managers use their leadership and communication skills to lead their departments into developing better relationships with customers. In this role, you will need to have the same qualifications as a customer service manager, which may include a college degree.
- Customer service leader. If you have the qualifications for all of the aforementioned roles and you still want to advance your career in the customer service industry, a position as a customer service leader may be the right choice for you. In this capacity, you’ll need to be an expert in all facets of customer service, as you’ll need to take the helm and direct your team toward achieving excellence in customer support.
Career Transitions Outside of the Customer Service Industry
If you’re currently working as a customer service representative and you want to transfer your skills to another industry, or you’re just looking to get started in the field but you’d like to know what other options may be available to you outside of customer service in the future, there are plenty of career transition possibilities. Here’s a look at some of the different options that you may be able to explore.
- An insurance sales agent. Once you’ve been working in the customer service industry for a while, if you’d like to switch career paths, a job as an insurance sales agent would be the perfect fit. As the name suggests, in this position, you would be selling insurance products to customers, and many of the skills that you used while working in customer service could be applied; problem solving, communication, and troubleshooting, for example. Your additional experience as a customer service rep would certainly be helpful in this position, but do note that there may be other qualifications, which will depend on the company you are applying with, and may include a high school diploma or the equivalent.
- A financial clerk. If you’re good with numbers and you’re intrigued by finance, you could use the skills you acquire working in customer service to fulfill a position as a financial clerk. In this role, you would perform several duties. You’ll also need to be efficient and organized, and you’ll need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
- Administrative support agent. As a customer service representative, you’ll use your interpersonal skills in order to effectively communicate with people so that you can understand and meet their needs. You could use those skills as an executive or personal assistant, too. In an administrative support role, you will work closely with an executive, providing clerical support services, managing his or her schedule, and helping to keep his or her operations running smoothly.
- Information clerk. As an information clerk, you’ll act as a resource hub, of sorts, to those who visit the business you’ll be working for. You’ll provide those visitors with information and you’ll direct them to the departments that will be able to best assist them with their needs, whatever they may be. Since this position is so customer-centric, the skills you acquired as a customer service agent would certainly be helpful as an information clerk.
- Computer support specialist. In the digital age, customer service isn’t just conducted in-person and over-the-phone; it’s also conducted online. As a computer support specialist, you’ll provide support online in order to address the issues that customers may be having and to connect them with professionals who have the appropriate tools, information, and services that will best meet their needs. In addition to having good interpersonal, communication, time-management, and organizational skills, it’s also helpful to have some degree of technical skills, such as computer software proficiency and programming languages.
- Ticket agent. Because customer service agents work directly with customers, the skills and abilities that you’ll develop and apply in this field can easily be applicable as a ticketing agent. In this position, you would provide a variety of services and have several responsibilities; managing customer reservations and handling their transactions, for example.
Best Paying Career Paths for Customer Service Professionals
As one of the biggest and fastest-growing fields, and with positions available for all experience levels and tons of advancement opportunities, it’s easy to see why customer service is so popular. Not only is it a great place to start your career, but it’s also a great way to advance your career in other fields, as you’ll develop a variety of skills that can be transferred to virtually any industry.
Whether you’ve been working in customer service in any capacity for a while and you’re looking for a career change, or you’re just starting out and you’d like to know what types of customer service positions will allow you to earn a great income, here’s a look at some of the best paying jobs customer service jobs and as always, make sure you have the best references for the job.
- An account coordinator. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for an account coordinator is just over $40,000 per year. An account coordinator’s primary responsibilities can include working with marketing agencies and providing administrative support to senior client services staff, such as account managers and account executives. Additionally, account coordinators are responsible for preparing and filing client documents, updating and managing internal databases, and coordinating and scheduling meetings. Examples of some well-known companies that employ account coordinators include Macy’s, US Foods, and Verizon.
- Client services manager. These professionals serve as a liaison between clients and customer service teams. Client service managers are responsible for a variety of tasks, including overseeing satisfaction initiatives, fielding client questions and complaints, and ensuring that all clients are completely satisfied. Additionally, you may be responsible for managing a team of other client service representatives. The national average salary for this position is just under $53,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cisco, Siemens, and Spectrum are examples of some of the most well-known companies that employ professionals in this capacity.
Service advisor. Service advisors often work in the service centers of auto dealerships, where they act as liaisons between clients and service technicians. Responsibilities often include things like scheduling maintenance and service appointments, checking vehicles in, and communicating the vehicle problems and repair timelines to customers. Furthermore, service advisors may also be tasked with reserving rental cars, completing financial transactions, and handling administrative duties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for this position is just over $55,000 annually. Examples of well-known companies that employ these service advisors include AAA, Service King Collision Repair, and Tesla.