What is the Next Step for a Customer Service Representative?

You have been working in customer service, but you don’t want to do this job forever.  You’ve heard that customer service work has little opportunity for growth, and you are afraid of getting stuck in a dead end job.  Don’t fret!  The skills that you develop while working in a customer service role can be applicable to a multitude of jobs.  If you are strategic, and you work to develop your skills, you can leverage your customer service experience to launch yourself into a whole new career.  Here are some positions that would be a great ‘next step’ for someone who is working in the customer service sector:

Account Manager:  Account managers are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with particular customers.  The account manager is usually assigned to several key accounts, and works to ensure that the customer’s needs are met and that they are kept happy.  Account manager positions vary in scope and salary.  Depending on the organization and the manager’s level of experience, they can be put in charge of major key accounts, potentially at the global level.  The required skills for this position include strong customer service skills, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and problem solving skills.  Other knowledge and skills required will depend on the nature of the business.

Administrative Role:  There are many different administrative tasks involved in customer service.  For example, you may be required to update a database, maintain files, respond to customer e-mails and phone calls, and complete applications and forms.  These tasks can make you well qualified for an administrative position working in an office.  Keep track of all of the administrative tasks that you perform, and take the initiative to broaden your experience in this area.

Management:  Most companies prefer promoting managers from within the organization over hiring externally.  There is a good chance that some of the managers in your organization started out in customer service roles.  If you perform well and behave professionally, you could be a strong candidate when a manager position becomes available.  Talk to your manager and let them know that you are interested in moving up in the organization.  Ask them what skills you need to develop, so that you can get yourself ready for when opportunity knocks.        

Social Services:  Customer service skills are essential in the social service sector.  You need to be able to show that you can relate to people, and that you are committed to making sure that your client is happy.  Even if you don’t have an education or experience in social services, you may be able to get an entry level position through volunteer work, and by demonstrating that you have strong customer service skills.  Once you have your foot in the door, it is easier for you to move around in the organization, and to find a position that is suited to your interests.

Job seekers are often resistant to customer service positions because they don’t view them as beneficial to their career.  Depending on how you approach it, customer service can be either a dead end job, or a valuable stepping stone.  The key is to be clear about your goals, and to be strategic in making sure that you get the necessary skills and experience to achieve them.

(Written by Karen Bivand)

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