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Skills spotlight: Customer service and 12 related jobs

In a world where every customer interaction is caught on camera, video, microphone or social media, it takes a special group of people to work in customer service. Rarely do they hear from satisfied customers who enjoy the products and services that company offers; instead, customer service workers tend to interact with those who have a problem.

But that gives workers in customer service a very special set of skills that can be used in a variety of other occupations. Every organization wants its users, clients and customers to have a good experience and continue to buy from them. And those workers who are able to change a disgruntled customer's mind or help solve a problem hold a unique set of skills that can be used in a variety of other occupations.

Read on to learn about the customer service skills and the related jobs you can consider applying those skills in.

Important qualities in customer service
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes what skills workers need to perform their jobs exceptionally. For workers in customer service and the following related positions, here are the skills you'll need:

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills
  • Patience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Decision-making skills
  • Empathy
  • Organizational skills
  • Compassion
  • Time-management skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Instructional skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Emotional stability
  • Writing skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Self-confidence
  • Stamina

To apply those skills, consider any of these 12 jobs that demand exceptional customer service:

1. Bill and account collectors* try to recover payment on overdue bills. They negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier. Listening to the debtor and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a solution.

2. Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called 9-1-1 operators or public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and nonemergency calls. Dispatchers must stay calm while collecting vital information from callers to determine the severity of a situation and the location of those who need help. They then give the appropriate first-responder agencies information about the call. Dispatchers keep detailed records about the calls that they take. They use computers to log important facts, such as the nature of the incident and the name and location of the caller.

3. Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers. Receptionists are often the first employee of an organization to have contact with a customer or client. They are responsible for making a good first impression for the organization, which can affect the organization's success.

4. Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They help other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. They may follow up with clients to ensure that they are receiving the services and that the services are meeting their needs.

5. Training and development specialists create, administer and deliver training programs for businesses and organizations. To do this, they must first assess the needs of an organization. Once those needs are determined, specialists develop custom training programs that take place in a classroom, computer laboratory, or training facility.

6. Mental Healthcare Service advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders or other behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. Furthermore, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and, if necessary, reestablish their career. They also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problem with family and friends.

7. Probation Specialists work with offenders who are given probation instead of jail time, who are still in prison, or who have been released from prison. They work with and monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes, and create rehabilitation plans for them to follow when they are no longer in prison.

8. Computer network support specialists, also called technical support specialists, usually work in their organization's IT department. They help IT staff analyze, troubleshoot and evaluate computer network problems. They play an important role in the daily upkeep of their organization's networks by finding solutions to problems as they occur. Solving an IT problem in a timely manner is important because organizations depend on their computer systems.

9. Restaurant Manager take orders and serve food and beverages to customers in dining establishments. They are responsible for ensuring that customers have a satisfying dining experience. The specific duties of servers vary considerably with the establishment in which they work.

10. Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. They also respond to information requests from the media and help clients communicate effectively with the public.

11. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have and negotiate prices.

12. Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture and cars, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of workers help customers find the products they want and process customers' payments.

Advice articles related to CRS jobs:

Skills needed for Customer Service Superstars

Example cover letter for customer service positions

Other customer service jobs to consider:

*All job titles and descriptions are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.