If you’re looking for an upward career movement in customer service, you need to be prepared to deal with difficult situations from day one. Be it face-to-face, over phone, email or even chat, whenever something goes wrong, a customer service manager will be the first point of contact for customer support agents trying to solve uncommon or complicated customer problems.
Whether you are a customer service representative on the lookout for a promotion or a keen applicant for a customer service manager role, this guide will help you understand the role better and plan your next steps.
What does a Customer Service Manager job description entail?
A customer service manager is responsible for customer retention by ensuring consistent customer experience along the customer lifecycle. A good customer service manager understands the customer needs and bridges the gap between the teams that deliver a memorable customer experience and the one that attends to customers face-to-face. A skilled customer service manager leverages management skills to streamline the ticket queue, improve resolution cadence, helps teams in achieving performance goals, and improving customer satisfaction scores.
The customer service manager has a pivotal role in customer success. Here’s a list of key responsibilities for a customer service manager:
- Hire and establish a high-performing customer support team with a diverse skill set to respond to and resolve customer queries in a quick and efficient manner, encourage the team to maintain an accurate record of all customer interactions, and help solve complex issues with the right knowledge and tools.
- Gain knowledge about the company’s products/ services to assist the customer service team to resolve any escalations
- Derive actionable insights from customer feedback and share with other teams to nurture customer relationships
- Conduct periodic evaluations to gauge the competency of your customer service department and provide appraisals accordingly
In addition to the above responsibilities, a customer service manager should possess the right mix of skill sets to be able to appreciate, align and contribute to larger business and revenue goals.
7 Must Have Customer Service Manager Skills
While you may have relevant work experience to apply for a customer service manager role, you should know about the critical skills and abilities that differentiate a manager from the rest of the customer service team. Trying to figure out if you’re a good fit for the role? Here’s a list of skills that should be reflected on a customer service manager resume.
1. Leadership skills
This is the most important skill that every manager is supposed to have irrespective of their field. Good customer service managers are team leaders who know how to stay agile and keep their team motivated.
As a manager, you should play to your team’s strengths. Here’s where your people management skills will come in handy. Your attitude towards your team is a major factor that influences their work environment. You have to be there for your team, guide them and give them a helping hand whenever needed. Your trust and respect will create a sense of belonging in your customer service agents, encouraging them to perform better.
2. Effective Team Training
The best way to make sure that your team is all prepped to answer customer questions, no matter how complex, is to give them the training they deserve. Customer service training is an ongoing process of growth that helps customer service teams improve customer satisfaction by delivering stellar customer experience.
Customer service managers need to monitor the performance of their department and provide customer service agents with timely feedback on how to upskill themselves. You need to equip them with the right training materials and certifications to help them get better at work and resolve any internal conflicts if reported.
You may even organize training sessions for the new hires on your team that can get them started with work right away. If you are not sure where to begin, ask your agents on what they’d like to learn. Here are some questions that may help uncover their interests or areas that require training:
a) What’s the most challenging part of your work?
b) If you would like to improve something about our team, what would that be?
c) Do you feel the team needs to interact with teams outside of support more often?
d) What steps do you suggest for increasing the team rapport?
e) We are looking to conduct training sessions. Let me know what you would like to enrol for (any number of choices):
- Product demo
- Personal development
3. Communication Skills
As a customer service manager, you are expected to be an excellent communicator. You are responsible for holding meetings that drive internal alignment, finding quick resolutions for repetitive complex issues, coming up with solutions to improve customer service, and guiding or coaching everyone on your team.
You need to have clarity on company policies since you will be required to clearly communicate with your team and customers for complicated requests. Communication skills come in handy when you have to collaborate and coordinate with multiple teams to streamline workflows, prioritize and fix the issues at hand.
4. Problem Solving Skills
Despite your team’s best efforts, there will be escalations and instances when a customer says, “I need to speak to your manager”. This is a clear indication of an unhappy customer which eventually results in low customer satisfaction and possibilities of higher churn. Under these circumstances, you need to stay calm, understand what your customer needs and present a solution that works best for your customer and is in line with your company policies. Your problem solving skills will help you negotiate with your team and your customers and ensure that you resolve every conflict effectively.
5. Performance Management
Tracking your team’s performance is crucial to determine the quality of customer service being delivered. While agent-based metrics like response time and resolution time provide insights on how each rep is performing, team-based metrics like happiness score and contact ratio give an overview.
Customer service metrics are a standard way to track performance but do not depend on them completely even if your team is working remotely. We recommend you to have regular interactions with every team member, identify the roadblocks they might be facing so you can help them overcome these challenges.
6. Operations Management
Customer expectations are constantly evolving and you need to ensure that your team is equipped to engage with the modern customer. As a manager, you are responsible for hiring the right talent with a diverse set of skills so your team is equipped with handling complex sets of queries efficiently. Here are a few resources that may help you get started with the hiring process.
- Your Guide to Customer Service Resumes
- Roles and Responsibilities of a Customer Service Representative
- 40+ Customer Service Interview Questions
In addition to fulfilling staffing responsibilities, monitor the processes for your department and audit your departmental operations with a critical eye to see if anything needs to be improved. People will be resistant to change, even if it is for the better. Make sure you clearly communicate to the teams about the changes proposed and how it can work in their favour. You may set up a framework, create new templates or introduce a new customer service software. Don’t forget to have the relevant data to back up your story.
For example, your customer service representatives might find it difficult to support your customers and run daily operations from a shared inbox due to increasing customer issues. As a result, the queries may either get missed or there might be a delay in responses. Both your team and customers end up frustrated and hiring additional agents would only increase the confusion. In a situation like this, you need to look for a helpdesk that would alleviate your team’s problem by helping them collaborate better and improve their conflict resolution abilities.
7. Strategic Thinking
With many companies using the quality of their customer service as their brand differentiator, merely replying to emails is not enough anymore. A customer service strategy needs to encompass a customer retention strategy along with a robust plan to deliver excellent customer experience. As a customer service manager, you need to find newer ways to personalize customer service and plan for the long haul. Experiment with upselling and cross-selling opportunities and focus on nurturing customer relationships. After all, your customers are your greatest advocates.
Being a customer service manager is no easy task. It is quite different from being a customer service agent and requires a different mindset. From having to deal with the toughest issues to keeping the customer satisfaction from dwindling down, it’s a challenging role to take on where every day is going to be a mix of both good and bad instances. However, a customer service manager role puts you in a unique position of representing both your customers and team members. With the right attitude and prowess, you are all set to rock!
Originally published on Dec 21, 2018. Updated on April 19, 2022.