Most of us contact a customer services department in one form or another every month - if not every week. Whether we click on a live chat button, fire off a quick email or call a help desk number, there are now multiple ways to get through to a company.
It’s no surprise that the people who act as the first point of contact with customers play a huge role in how their employer is viewed by the public.
The good news is that there are plenty of job opportunities in customer services - this sector’s expanding every year thanks to online shopping and our increased use of digital services.
And while you might face the odd tricky customer in this kind of role, you’ll also gain a huge amount too. From communication know-how to calmness under pressure, working in customer services can add a host of skills to your toolkit that are valued in the workplace.
Communication is a vital part of great customer service, so you’ll learn how to interact in a crystal-clear way without ambiguity.
You’ll also be trained in how to ‘read’ customers, put yourself in their shoes to understand their viewpoint and of course listen properly.
At HR GO, we’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve spotted ‘great communication skills’ in the list of qualities an employer is looking for in their ideal candidate. Being able to communicate effectively is an essential competency that all potential bosses are looking for, whether that’s at interview stage or in the workplace.
When something goes wrong, customer service representatives tend to hear about it. It’s crucial to be able to work well under pressure, which means being able to stay polite, respectful and calm when you’re dealing with impatient, annoyed or angry callers.
In a customer services role, you’ll be trained how to handle stressful situations calmly and serenely, honing your self-control and patience.
Knowing you can keep your cool with an angry customer is something you can draw on throughout your career - and can even be handy in everyday life outside work.
Every customer and their situation is different, presenting new challenges and problems to solve.
And although many customer services roles involve working on a phone, on live chat or on email, this work is still very sociable with lots of chances to use ‘face-to-face’ skills - and this helps make the work stay varied and more interesting.
Some customer service roles might be seen as a short term option because of the flexible hours on offer. But there can be good training available, and it could turn into a serious career path.
If you excel as a customer service advisor, you could be promoted to team leader or supervisor with responsibility for a team. Part of this role would be monitoring and giving feedback on performance, plus training and coaching team members to develop them in their current roles.
The next step could be to customer service manager, tasked with developing team schedules, conducting performance reviews and recruiting, interviewing and hiring.
Much of what you do in a customer services role involves solving people’s problems. And you’ll get a huge sense of achievement knowing that you’ve managed to make someone’s day better, particularly if they started off aggrieved and frustrated and ended up relieved and grateful.
When it comes to job satisfaction, who could ask for more?