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Career advancement for the customer service specialist

customer service specialist? Luckily, career advancement is within your reach!

As a customer service specialist, what's next for you?

Working as a customer service representative teaches you professional skills you can use throughout your career, wherever it takes you. But how do you decide where it should take you?

Planning a customer service career path presents you with an overwhelming number of options. You've worked in a client-facing role at the forefront of your company, establishing meaningful connections with customers, and that's probably put you in touch with a lot of different departments. Front-line service can give you the opportunity to learn about various specialties and get a sense of where you want to go.

But this is a big decision to make, and it's OK if you're still figuring things out. We have some tips on how to choose your career path. And we've put together a list of things to consider if you want to advance from your role as a customer service specialist, including specific jobs you could be qualified for. Whether you're aiming at a dream job or just exploring your next steps, these career moves could help you advance.

Customer service roles to consider

Let's start with the most obvious choice: as a customer service specialist with enough experience, one of the best ways to move up is to seek out a more senior role in, well, customer service. You've proven your abilities as a brand representative. Why not continue in that field?

Think of a promotion like a stepping stone toward your ultimate career goals. To let your employer know that you're ready for a promotion, strive to go above and beyond the requirements of your current job. This doesn't mean you should overstep your authority, but you can make wise judgment calls that will streamline the customer service process and please both your boss and the customers you assist.

(If a promotion seems a little too far away, start looking for open customer service positions in your area.)

Here are the customer service jobs you could work toward:

Customer Service Supervisor

If team members often come to you for help, you've already taken the first step toward a leadership role as a customer service supervisor.

As a supervisor, you have a good work history and understand what it takes to make a team productive and efficient. You'll help train new customer service reps, step in when a customer service rep is having trouble answering a customer's questions, and help your team reach its goals. Your new job will come with an increased salary, too: the national average for customer service supervisor positions is $60,500 year. To reach this next phase of your career, work on the following skills:

  • Proficiency with computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Technical expertise in your field

Customer Service Manager

After you've worked as a customer service supervisor for a time, you may be able to add another feather to your cap when you become a customer service manager. In this role, you take on more responsibilities as a team leader. And as a team lead, you'll increase your earning potential. The national average salary for customer service manager jobs is $69,500, significantly higher than what customer service supervisors make.

To become a qualified candidate, you need to continue honing the skills that are important for a customer service supervisor, but keep in mind that you'll need even better credentials to land a job as a manager. Most often, you can work as a customer service specialist or a customer service supervisor without having any college education, but that usually isn't the case if you want to be a manager. A college degree may be necessary in order for you to land the job. You'll also need to develop a deep understanding of management skills to step into this position.

If becoming a full-time student isn't an option for you, consider enrolling in a certificate program that will enhance your skills. Take online or night classes that fit your schedule. You might want to study business management, accounting, and topics that relate specifically to your industry. Keep an eye on customer service job openings, and study the job description in each posting to get a good feel for what different companies want from their managers.

Customer experience manager

As a customer experience manager, you'll use your leadership and communication skills to lead your department in developing good customer relationships. The average salary for customer experience managers is $71,500. This position will require all the same qualifications as a customer service manager position, which could include a college degree.

Customer service leader

If you're qualified for all the previous positions and still want to build your career in customer service, this is the role for you. These professionals are experts in all aspects of the customer experience. Customer service leaders take the helm and guide their teams toward excellence in customer support. They create positive, affirming, productive workplaces. The average salary for customer service leaders is $76,000.

More customer service positions

There are a variety of job titles for customer service specialists. Sometimes the best step for your career is to step into a similar role to your current position at another company, or in an industry that interests you. Here are some customer service jobs you should watch for, along with their average salaries:

Customer care specialist
Average salary: $60,500

Customer service coordinator
Average salary: $59,500

Call center agent
Average salary: $60,500

Customer care representative
Average salary:$60,000

Client representative
Average salary: $73,500

Jobs outside customer service to explore

Your experience as a customer service specialist may also equip you for employment outside of customer service. For example, if you work for a retail store, you may become interested in things like the visual merchandising aspects of setting up a store. If you really enjoy working with people, you might branch out into a sales job. And when you take up the mantle of a salesperson, you might have the opportunity to earn a nice commission on the products you sell. Here's more on how you can use transferable skills to switch jobs. If you'd like to look for a good job outside customer service, consider these roles:

Financial clerk

Working in the finance industry, these clerks assist customers and complete clerical work in an efficient, organized manner. You need a high school diploma or the equivalent to apply. The average salary for financial clerks is $50,000.

Insurance sales agent

Use the interpersonal and problem-solving skills you learned in customer service to dive into sales. Insurance sales agents connect customers with insurance plans to protect their financial futures. Most qualified applicants for insurance sales agent roles have a high school diploma or the equivalent and a high degree of emotional intelligence. The average salary for insurance sales agents is $129,000.

Administrative support

You learned how to work with people in customer service, and that could translate into a job as an executive assistant. In this support role, you'd work closely with an executive to complete clerical work, manage schedules, and keep operations running smoothly. The average salary for executive assistants is $69,500. You might also consider getting an administrative support job as a personal assistant.

Computer support specialist

Customer service moves online. In this role, you'll assist users via computer to address customer issues and connect people with the right goods and services. Having some technical skills, such as proficiency in a variety of computer software or programming languages, could be a huge plus. The average salary for computer support specialists is $67,500.

Information clerk

In this role, you'll serve as a resource hub for visitors to a business, providing them with information and directing them to the departments that can best assist them. The average salary for information clerks is $46,000.

Ticket agent

Customer service professionals are used to working directly with customers, so they could excel as ticket agents or travel clerks, managing reservations and handling transactions. The average salary for ticket agents is $70,000.

Related reading

Regardless of what your career goals are, you should always be looking for opportunities to advance. Seek out chances to learn, welcome feedback, and be flexible. When you focus on the keys to career development, you're setting yourself up for success. In the meantime, here is some more advice to keep in mind:

How to write a cover letter for customer service jobs

Here's what you can do with a background in retail

8 of the best entry-level jobs by industry

Best paying jobs for workers with high-school diplomas

Why being a good listener and fast learner is important