Customer service managers ensure that the organisation they work for satisfies its customers' needs. They may work at various levels, from head office to the front end of the business. The main aim of a customer service manager is to provide excellent customer service. Possible roles vary widely and job titles in customer services management include customer care manager, corporate services manager, customer relationship manager and customer operations manager. In each of these roles, customer service managers are expected to understand and satisfy their customers' requirements and exceed their expectations if possible.
Who can I work for?
Retail firms, such as supermarkets, department stores and online retailers; leisure and tourism organisations, such as tour operators and airlines; educational institutions; health services providers; local government; banks and building societies; insurance companies;
utilities organisations, such as gas, electricity and water companies; telecommunications organisations; transport and logistics firms.
Where and when can I work?
There are opportunities to work all over the UK. Visits are usually local, so you can return to work or home the same day, but you may occasionally have to travel long distances throughout the UK and this might involve overnight stays.
Some organisations have relocated their call centre provision overseas. So there may be opportunities for UK customer service managers to work overseas in either permanent or temporary positions. Work is usually carried out from an office, or from a customer services desk in a public area, such as a shop or a train station.
Working hours vary according to the type of organisation. Head office managers may work 9 to 5, while those in call centres or retail stores may need to work shifts, including evenings and weekends.
Self-employment is not common in this area of work. Some organisations employ customer service managers on a part-time basis, where the nature of the organisation's work allows it.
What can I earn?
Experienced customer service managers' salaries typically range between £30,000-£45,000 and can even exceed £60,000. Trainee customer service managers earn £16,000-£23,000.
What are the benefits?
Most companies offer generous bonuses or commission and usually provide an excellent benefits package. Staff discounts.
Are there chances of promotion?
You may need to move to a larger organisation if you want to gain more responsibility or opportunities for promotion. It may also be necessary to relocate, for example to gain promotion in organisations that have a number of branches. As your career develops, you can upgrade your membership of professional associations, such as the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). With further experience, you may choose to train other staff in customer service skills, or you might train to become an assessor of staff working towards customer service qualifications. This may lead to assessor or developer levels of membership with the ICS. If you take opportunities to develop and expand your knowledge and experience, you could move into a wider management career. This is particularly true if you have a relevant degree or have participated in a general management training scheme that covers other areas of management. To aid further progression, you should keep your knowledge and skills up to date by adding to your qualifications, completing short courses, attending conferences and reading relevant books, reports, newsletters and magazines. Meeting fellow professionals and exchanging ideas is another useful way of developing your career – the ICS runs regional networking and training events.
What will I be responsible for?
+ Helping to develop a customer service policy for an entire organisation;
+ Managing a team of customer services staff.
+ Handling face-to-face enquiries from customers.
+ Providing help and advice to customers using your organisation's products or services.
+ Leading or supervising a team of customer service staff.
+ Learning about your organisation's products or services and keeping up to date with changes.
+ Keeping ahead of developments in customer service by reading relevant journals, going to meetings and attending courses.
+ Communicating courteously with customers by telephone, email, letter and face to face.
+ Investigating and solving customers' problems which may be complex or long-standing problems that have been passed on by customer service assistants.
+ Handling customer complaints or any major incidents, such as a security issue or a customer being taken ill.
+ Issuing refunds or compensation to customers.
+ Keeping accurate records of discussions or correspondence with customers.
+ Analysing statistics or other data to determine the level of customer service your organisation is providing.
+ Producing written information for customers, often involving use of computer packages/software.
+ Writing reports analysing the customer service that your organisation provides.
+ Visiting customers to provide a one-to-one service.
+ Developing feedback or complaints procedures for customers to use.
+ Developing customer service procedures, policies and standards for your organisation or department.
+ Meeting with other managers to discuss possible improvements to customer service.
+ Being involved in staff recruitment and appraisals.
+ Training staff to deliver a high standard of customer service.
What qualifications do I need?
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree or HND in marketing, consumer, business or management studies, may enhance your chances.
Some employers may prefer students from disciplines that are relevant to their particular sector, such as retail, hospitality or financial services. Entry into customer services management is possible without a degree or HND, however. Some managers work their way up from roles such as customer services assistant, gaining relevant qualifications and experience where possible. They may then find themselves being promoted to team leader, and on into a management position.
Do I need any experience?
Competition amongst graduates is quite high and so previous experience of working with customers, such as in a shop, call centre, office or bar, may give you an advantage when applying for work or training schemes. Any other relevant experience of working with people, perhaps through membership of student clubs and societies, is also useful. Try to arrange a period of work shadowing with customer service managers in different settings to find out which type of organisation might suit you best.
What attributes are needed?
You'll be a flexible, versatile, multi-tasker who knows how to get the best out of people. You'll ensure your firm hits its targets while maintaining strict quality and compliance standards. That means training your team thoroughly – showing them how best to handle queries and identify customer needs, and keeping their product knowledge up to date. If you have face-to-face contact with customers, you must have a smart appearance. You'll need to behave in a calm, professional and responsible manner at all times, even in times of stress when you are dealing with customers who are upset or angry. You'll be proficient in written and spoken communication skills that allow you to inform, help and advise customers clearly and liaise with other professionals. You'll also be a great listener, understanding exactly what customers require. You'll have problem-solving and motivational skills; confidence, patience, politeness, tact and diplomacy, when dealing with difficult situations. You'll think creatively and be able to come up with new ideas to improve customer service standards and an ability to work well under pressure.