Careers in Retail: Customer Service Leadership
by Jim Reams
As the retail industry continues to expand, finding a customer service leadership job is an excellent way to build a successful, fulfilling career. A customer service supervisor is responsible for overseeing a team of customer service representatives.
Job duties often include:
- Organizing your customer service team and assigning specific roles
- Evaluating each team member's performance
- Investigating product and service issues
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for customer service roles is expected to decline two percent by 2028, as more of their tasks become automated. However, some companies will continue to use in-house service centers to differentiate themselves from competitors. Also, jobs for customer service representatives are projected to be added in business support services, which includes telephone call centers.
What do customer service leaders do?
In retail, the customer service manager is the person who resolves the most complex customer issues. This responsibility requires excellent written and oral communication skills, diplomacy and tact. You'll also need to be able to remain calm under pressure, especially when a team member or customer is being unreasonable. Customer service leaders have to conduct themselves professionally while following the operational guidelines of their company or store; this is a skill in itself.
A service supervisor also handles many of the administrative tasks involved with keeping their departments running smoothly and efficiently, such as:
- Filling vacant positions as they become available
- Training new reps
- Supporting team members when issues arise
- Writing reports and guidelines to distribute to the team
This written communication can include setting goals for team members based on company policies and objectives. You then need to give your team the necessary tools and training to meet or exceed those goals.
You may also have to intervene when team members don't follow company procedures. If a customer has an issue with an employee, you'll need to address and resolve the problem. Listen to the team member's side of the story, evaluate the behavior, and establish an action plan to get them on the right path. Another unpleasant but necessary part of being a manager is terminating the employee if the issue continues and cannot be corrected.
A customer service manager sets the tone for employee behavior and interaction with customers. You'll be called upon to handle the most difficult cases, which often involve demanding customers. Handling these situations requires you to listen to customer concerns with genuine empathy, apologize when necessary, and resolve the issue by following company procedures.
If you've witnessed a supervisor handle these situations in the past, mention these learning opportunities in your application materials (especially your cover letter). Observing successful leadership will help you learn to handle more complex cases on your own.
A customer service supervisor needs to build lasting relationships with repeat customers. A perfect customer service experience can turn a one-time customer into a repeat customer. Here's where your communication skills and empathy come into play to increase the company's bottom line. Establishing a history of retaining profitable customers will help your career as you move forward.
A bachelor's degree isn't necessary for a job as a customer service supervisor. However, college experience can put you at the top of the applicant list for the best jobs. A successful history of customer service experience is also critical if you want to make the move into management.
Many companies promote customer service managers from within, but your experience may impress the hiring manager enough to bring an outsider into the team.
Finding a job in customer service leadership
The first step toward your career in management is to create a compelling resume and cover letter. Incorporate your relevant accomplishments and customer service experience into your narrative:
- Highlight your skills with specific point of sale (POS) systems
- Show how you used oral and verbal communication skills effectively
- Cite examples that demonstrate your willingness to handle difficult customer interactions
When crafting your resume and cover letter, keep in mind that many employers now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review your application. These systems automatically scan for relevant keywords that align with their job description. Be sure to include the most prominent and repeatedly used keywords from the job description whenever possible in both your resume and cover letter.
Check out our Customer Service Resume Samples & Pro Writing Tips and Customer Service Resume Templates for guidance on writing a winning customer service resume. When you apply for a customer service supervisor position, be sure to include a customized cover letter tailored to the specific company and role. Many candidates don't include cover letters at all, so here's where you can set yourself apart. Our Cover Letter Templates will help you create a captivating letter that highlights your skills, experience and unique personality.