Careers Guide for jobs

Customer Services Management Career Advice

If you are wondering how to become a customer service manager, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers within sales and retail, as well as management job prospects in the UK.

The Job Description
Customer services managers make sure that their organisation satisfies its customers’ needs. They could be responsible for developing customer service standards for a large company, or they may manage a customer service team and deal with enquiries in person.

As a customer services manager your duties could include:

managing a team of customer service assistants
handling difficult enquiries or complaints
training staff to give a high standard of service
making sure that staff understand company procedures and consumer and data protection laws
developing customer service policies
setting up customer feedback or complaints procedures
reporting on levels of customer service and looking for ways to improve standards
recruiting and appraising staff
helping and advising customers by telephone, e-mail or face-to-face
issuing refunds or compensation if necessary.
You may also have other duties such as marketing, depending on your employer.

Person Specification
The key personal attributes of good customer services managers include:

a genuine interest in helping customers
excellent communication skills
good organisational and planning skills
the ability to lead and motivate a team
problem-solving and decision-making ability
a polite, tactful and assertive attitude
patience and calmness under pressure
the ability to handle complaints and difficult situations
computer and administrative skills.

How to become a customer services manager
There are two main routes into customer services management. You could start as a customer service assistant and work your way up to supervisor or team leader then to manager, or you could join a company’s management training scheme directly.

You do not need particular qualifications to start as a customer service assistant, but you will find it useful to have experience of dealing with people in person or over the phone.

Some employers may ask for qualifications in English and maths, others may consider your 'people skills' and work experience to be more important than academic qualifications. You may help your chances of promotion by gaining NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Customer Service whilst you are working as a customer service assistant.

Many larger employers recruit managers directly through management training schemes. Entry requirements can vary – you may need a degree for some, while others may accept you with A levels or similar qualifications. You may have an advantage with a degree in business, management or marketing, or in a subject related to the employer’s industry, such as hospitality or retail.

You will find it useful to have previous customer service experience when applying for training schemes.

Training and Development
You will usually be trained on the job by your employer. Larger organisations often have their own structured in-house management training programmes.

Your training may include in-house assessment for NVQ levels 3 and 4 in Customer Service, or Institute of Customer Service (ICS) Professional Awards in Communication, Solutions and Innovations (if your employer is a member of ICS).

You could also choose to work towards general management qualifications from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The Pay (a rough guide)
Trainee managers usually earn between £16,000 and £20,000 a year.
Experienced managers usually earn from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.
Senior managers in large organisations may earn up to £60,000 a year.
Bonuses or commission may also be available in some sectors like retail, sales or banking.

Job Prospects
You could work in a wide range of industries, including retail, banking and insurance, leisure and tourism, IT, telecommunications, manufacturing, transport, local government and other public sector organisations.

Jobs may be advertised in local newspapers, Jobcentre Plus, recruitment agencies and by employers on their own websites or in-store.

With experience, you could progress into senior management, or change employers to gain more responsibility and a higher salary. In some industries, you could move into sales or account handling. Good customer service skills are in demand in all industries, so you could also use your skills to move into other careers.

Useful retail and sales resources:
Institute of Customer Service (ICS)
2 Castle Court
St Peters' St
Tel. 01206 571716