As we have shared in previous blog articles, an excellent customer service experience is crucial for long-term business success. It also helps increase customer loyalty, positive word-of-mouth and a good reputation. Customer service is as critical to a business as sales and marketing – if not more so. Therefore, more and more successful businesses invest in a dedicated customer service department, a sound service strategy supported by the entire company and a qualified team to carry it out.
Managing the service team is the role of the Customer Service Manager whose responsibility it is to ensure that the company delivers an exceptional customer service experience. They organize and motivate service representatives, manage all aspects of customer communication, determine “right” metrics, develop systems to carefully monitor customer feedback and behavioral trends and convey this data to management as well as other departments. In larger corporations customer service managers can have executive roles at the Senior Management or C-level. They are known as Chief Customer Officers, Chief Experience Officers, Chief CX Officer, etc.
Although the duties required will vary according to the size of the company and service sector, below are some of the essential duties of a Customer Service Manager:
- Maintain long-term, lasting relationships with customers by ensuring an excellent service experience throughout their journey with the company (beyond just the customer service department)
- Be the voice of and advocate for the customer by observing and identifying every aspect of the customer journey and communicating pain points to remedy internally
- Set and maintain a tone and environment that is customer-focused, both internally and externally
- Hire, train and manage the customer service team. Recognize and reward team members who provide great service, and take a proactive role in their professional and personal development
- Resolve any customer concerns or complaints, completely and efficiently
- Carefully and continuously monitor customer feedback and improve the customer experience when necessary
- Work closely with marketing to support customer referral and testimonial program and to help protect, and support, the company’s reputation
- Work closely with operations to help improve and streamline internal processes that best serve the customer and the company
- Manage the customer service budget, to include employee wages and benefits, and the compensation required to resolve complaints
There are several qualities to look for when determining the best fit for anyone seeking to work in a service role, especially a management role.
A customer service manager sets an example for their team and should have developed the following qualities through a combination of work experience, professional development and training. Customer service experts, speakers and best-selling authors speak at conferences about the importance of nurturing these key qualities
- Communication – The ability to communicate clearly, effectively and kindly is a primary requirement for a customer service manager
- Patience – An above-average level of patience, especially in dealing with customer concerns, is very important
- Listener – It may seem obvious, but the ability to really listen is a skill that is not always easy and may need to be developed. Customer service leaders are master listeners!
- Diplomacy is a very subtle art that needs to be carefully refined. For some, diplomacy comes naturally, which is why they do well in service-oriented or client-facing roles.
- Problem-Solving- The ability to ‘think out of the box’ and solve a problem for a team member or customer is the hallmark of a great customer service leader.
- Complaint Resolution – It is never easy to be on the receiving end of a customer complaint, but if handled with sensitivity and tact, a complaint can be an opportunity to turn the customer’s experience around and thereby gain their long-term loyalty.
- Motivation- Customer service requires a lot of energy and dedication, so it is very important that service teams are encouraged and motivated by their manager.
- Empathy – For a customer service leader, empathyis a very subtle but important skill. Empathy provides the foundation for a deeper trust and connection.
- Trust – Customers are loyal to companies they can trust. That means that anyone in a leadership role conducts themselves with the utmost integrity and honesty, both internally and externally.
- Vision – Great service leaders can not only intuit their customer needs but anticipate them. This is what customer service expert Chip Bell calls “customer clairvoyance”. Companies such as Apple and Amazon set themselves apart by anticipating their customers’ needs before their customers do! The first signals that lead to new idea often come from the service department, as they carefully monitor customer needs, comments and behaviors.
Given the ever-changing and complex skills, intelligence and human touch needed to be successful in a customer service management role, customer service training that encompasses the latest trends in both communication and technology is vital.
If you are in a service leadership position and would like to further develop and refine the skills and qualities needed to be successful in your role, or would like to position yourself for that promotion you’ve been dreaming of, consider taking the Certified Customer Service Manager Training course provided by the Customer Service Institute of America. For more information on this or the other training and recognition programs we offer, please contact us.