By Stephanie Naznitsky, Executive Director, Robert Half
Next month, Robert Half and other companies across the U.S. and around the world will be celebrating the helpful heroes who help us out of jams, patiently explain complex ideas, locate useful resources, troubleshoot tough problems and calm our frustrations. Customer Service Week, October 3–7, is a time to recognize the contributions of millions of professionals in this fast-evolving field and their growing impact on us and businesses today.
I have been in the service industry my entire career, and I am gratified to see customer-facing professionals increasingly commended for the invaluable service they provide and the experiences they create. In fact, companies are redefining these roles to focus on elevating the customer experience to improve interactions between a brand and its customers.
Multiple professional pathways
The customer service field has expanded into a multitude of careers that can pave a long and rewarding career path. As customer expectations have developed and grown — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began — the entire industry is evolving to amplify the customer experience, including offering some of the most sophisticated and specialized roles in the administrative space.
Businesses are learning how closely customer service is tied to delivering revenue, meeting key performance indicators and growing the customer base. To offer support beyond traditional call centers, savvy business leaders are expanding service teams, investing in staff development and increasing compensation.
I would encourage interested college students and graduates to explore a customer service career. I also believe it’s a wonderful profession for those who would enjoy a more client- or customer-facing role. Not only does a customer service career offer long-term opportunities, the skills required — mastery of new technology, emotional intelligence, problem-solving and communication — are highly transferrable. Customer service jobs are also well-suited for remote work and flexible scheduling.
The customer service career track can lead to multiple pathways of specialization — such as people management, account management, customer advocacy, and working with clientele at the highest levels. There is even a C-suite position to aspire to: chief customer officer.
To see compensation levels for various customer service roles, check out Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide.
Grow your customer service career
To get on a customer service growth track, here are several strategies to enhance your skills and get noticed:
- Learn your business’s business. Whether you’re working in hospitality, healthcare or product support, at a contact center, or in another field, you’ll benefit from gaining a thorough understanding of your company and its industry. Research the company’s history, current market trends, competitors, growth strategies and operational details. You can then use this knowledge to identify and recommend solutions to your manager that can help address customer challenges.
- Understand how success is measured. Be fully aware of your organization’s customer service goals and how they are quantified. Benchmark and scale your own success.
- Ask your manager for real-time feedback. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but there’s no better way to chart your path to success than to turn your areas for improvement into strengths.
- Talk to industry veterans. Learn from colleagues with lots of customer service experience under their belts. You could even ask them to help you role-play different business scenarios to learn how they handle challenging conversations.
- Talk to satisfied customers. They don’t even have to be your own. Seek out stories of excellent interactions and learn how those relationships were solidified.
- Turbocharge your writing skills. Many customer interactions occur in writing, whether through email, chat services or social media, so polish your written communication to ensure your responses are delivered succinctly, professionally and correctly for a wide audience.
- Get comfortable with changing technologies. As the customer service field continues to evolve, tools will constantly transform. Get ahead of it by researching tech trends and keeping an agile, adaptable mindset.
Choose the right company for your career
With customer service jobs proliferating, you have many more options, allowing you to research your desired role and uncover the best choice of employer — one who values your unique talents and aspirations. I’m especially proud of the lengths we go to at Robert Half to identify what is most important to a candidate so we can match them with an employer that can help them build their skill set and pursue long-term goals.
We’re ahead of the game in connecting customer service pros to remote and hybrid jobs, and we aim to create a personalized experience for both the candidates we place and those we hire ourselves.
Customer service puts you in a position to deliver memorable and authentic experiences, which can exceed customer expectations and inspire customers to pay it forward in their own lives. Whether helping someone at a critical moment, changing an attitude, teaching a skill or showing empathy, customer service professionals can create lasting impressions that will build even stronger customer relationships.