Customer Service Career Guide
Potential Roles in Customer Service
Given the customer-centric focus of all roles in this field, there’s often plenty of potential for career development. Some of the most popular Customer Service jobs are as follows.
Account Managers are generally more focused on business clients than consumer customers. They normally work as part of, or alongside, a sales and marketing department and are usually responsible for handling one or more client portfolios. Account Manager jobs heavily involve customer service interactions, which can range from client product queries and payment issues, to offering new services and upgrades. This role is often fundamental one in any company. As such, Account Manager oppotyunities can be found across a variety of industries.
Customer Service Managers are tasked with making sure every customer receives an exceptional experience, and that good customer service practice is promoted throughout the organisation. Working as a Customer Service Manager means being on the front line of the business, helping to resolve customer issues, queries, and complaints, while ensuring they come away with a resolution to their problem wherever possible. They will also normally manage or oversee a team to some extent.
Technical Support Advisors are more specialised forms of customer service agents. Tech Support Advisors are there to help clients or customers with specific software or hardware problems. Technical Support Advisor jobs are found in a wide range of industries, but especially common in the tech sector. They tend to handle more in-depth problems that can sometimes require extensive troubleshooting to solve, and are normally the second line of contact if customer service agents can’t resolve the problem, or need more technical assistance.
Salary and Career Progression
Account Managers normally start on anything from £18,000 to £20,000. It is important to note that commission can, and often does, play an important part of an Account Manager’s salary. With that in mind, senior and experienced Account Managers can often earn well over £30-35,000 per year once they have a well-established client network and hands-on know-how.
Customer Service Managers start on around £20,000 per year. Particularly well established or larger companies may offer higher starting salaries of £24-25,000 in some cases. Mid-level roles can earn £30,000 or more, and the most senior Customer Service Manager positions normally pay at least £40,000 per year. There is often potential for earnings to increase to £60,000 or more overall.
Technical Support Advisors will normally start off on a similar salary to a Customer Service Manager – in the region of 18-19k. Much like the other roles in this space, Technical Support Advisor salaries grow well with experience. Management and senior Tech Support roles can often take home around £40,000 to £50,000 per annum in most cases.
Qualifications, Education and Experience
Account Manager roles, like most Customer Service opportunities, tend to be more based around soft skills and experience than qualifications. That said, most employers will expect Account Managers to have a degree-level qualification. For specialised roles, having a qualification in the relevant industry can be very useful (IT, for a company that sells software, for example). The following subjects are generally good all-round choices:
- Customer Services
- Business Administration
Generally speaking, most entry-level Customer Service Manager roles aren’t too heavy on academic requirements. Most employers will tend to prefer experience, although it can certainly help your chances by having a degree, NVQ, HND or associated qualification in one of the following subject areas:
- Consumer Studies
- Business / Business Studies
- Customer Service
- Contact Centre Operations
Technical Support Advisors can come from any background, and as with the roles above, having any formal qualifications isn’t explicitly necessary to get into this field. Having said that, many employers will often look favourably on additional qualifications such as HND or degrees. The following subjects can be beneficial if you’re considering a career as a Technical Support Advisor:
- Software Engineering
- Computer Science
- Business Systems Engineering
- Computer Networking
Account Managers will benefit from the following skills and traits:
- Excellent written and verbal communication
- Rapport building
- Active listening
- Goal orientated
- Able to work under pressure
- Extensive product knowledge
Customer Service Managers should aim to develop the majority of the following qualities and skills to be successful in their role:
- Active listening
- Emotional intelligence
- Creative thinking
- Written and verbal communication
Technical Support Advisors are certain to need a combination of the skills and qualities below:
- Detailed understanding of relevant hardware or software products
- Logical thinking
- Active listening
- Written and verbal communication
- Highly organised
Account Managers generally stick to a 9-5 routine. This can vary slightly depending on the nature of the business itself, and the level of focus a particular role has on face to face interaction with clients. More face to face focused roles will often require some meeting clients socially outside of work hours.
Customer Service Managers tend to work in shift patterns based on the nature of the organisation. While 9-5 is common, this will normally vary week on week, with some later and earlier shifts making up a monthly schedule. This ensures that customer queries can be answered out of hours, and is a common practice in most Customer Service contact centres. It’s worth noting that part-time and self-employed options can be available in this line of work as well.
Technical Support Advisors arguably have the most demanding hours of all of the three roles we’re looking at here. Shift and pattern work is common, as many companies require around the clock technical support. Many technical support advisors are often required to be on call as well, which can mean work can cut into your time off, or you that you might have to work antisocial hours.
Given that almost every company has some degree of customer services, there is no one particular location that’s best for finding these roles in the UK. That said, anywhere with concentrations of business are always a good place to start. With that in mind, the following cities are a good bet if you’re considering a career in Customer Services. It is also worth noting that many newer companies are increasingly offering remote and self-employed work in this field, which makes location less of an issue.
Some companies at the top of their game when it comes to customer service include:
- First Direct
- Boots Opticians
Remember that this is just a few examples, and that there are often many opportunities for Customer Service candidates in almost any industry.
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