Customer service is the support given to customers before, during and after purchasing and using goods or services.
Good customer service will facilitate an experience that meets customers’ expectations, leaving them satisfied that their money has been spent on something worthwhile. It’s an important element to all businesses, as bad customer service can result in complaints, lost sales, and a poor reputation.
Good customer service involves developing bonds with customers, hopefully leading to long-term relationships. It is advantageous to both customers and the business alike: customers benefit because the business is providing a service that meets their needs; the business benefits because satisfied customers are likely to be repeat customers.
As customer service is such an essential part of any organisation, there’s plenty of scope for those moving into the specialism. A customer services professional could work in a variety of organisations such as retail, finance, travel, manufacturing, or even for a local authority.
School leavers wanting to pursue a career in customer service should have excellent communication and people skills, strong motivational skills, planning and organisational skills, the ability to multi-task and effective problem-solving skills.
Jobs in customer service
A school leaver interested in this profession could become a customer services assistant. Their day-to-day activities could include:
• Answering customers' questions by phone, email, webchat or face-to-face
• Selling products or services
• Handling complaints or passing them to a manager
• Entering customer information onto a computer database
• Taking payment for goods or services
• Giving refunds
Later on, and higher up the pay-grade, they could become a customer services manager. The day-to-day duties of someone in this job might include:
• Developing customer service policies and procedures
• Leading a team of customer services staff
• Handling enquiries and complaints
• Authorising refunds
• Making sure accurate records are kept
• Helping to recruit, train and assess new staff
• Keeping up to date with customer service developments
Customer services managers also attend training sessions, and report regularly to senior managers on how teams are performing and whether targets are being met.
Customer service apprenticeships
This apprenticeship trains you to provide excellent customer service, and can be applied to hundreds of job roles across many different sectors. Most customer service apprentices work in retail, financial services, call centres, hospitality, or sport and recreation.
There are two types of customer service apprenticeship: Intermediate Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships.
Those on a customer services Intermediate Apprenticeship could train in roles like customer service trainee, customer service assistant, customer service representative or customer service agent.
School leavers on a customer services Advanced Apprenticeship could train in roles like customer relationship co-ordinator or customer services manager/team leader.