How to kickstart your career as a customer service manager
Learn what it takes to become a successful customer service manager, and get tips from business leaders on how to land the role.
Published May 19, 2021
Last updated May 27, 2021
Many customer service agents reach a point in their career when they decide they want to transition into a new role. Those next steps could take you in many directions: sales, customer success, or people ops, to name a few. But one of the most likely moves is to become a customer service manager.
After years of helping customers find answers to their queries and honing your service skills, you’re ready to take on more responsibility. But managing a team of agents and consistently delivering excellent customer experiences is no easy task.
To become a great customer service manager, you need to know how to deliver top-notch customer support and possess the communication and leadership skills it takes to supervise a team. It’s not for everyone, but customer service management is a fulfilling, challenging role for the right person.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
What does a customer service manager do?
A customer service manager leads a team of customer service agents and works with them to resolve customer issues and ensure customer satisfaction. The role of a customer service manager is not to be confused with that of a customer success manager, who helps customers derive maximum value from your product or service and achieve their goals.
On any given day as a customer service manager, you will:
- Supervise a team: As the head of your team, you’ll be in charge of setting and maintaining the customer service standard. Like a coach, you’ll pay close attention to your agents’ performance on the field and give them constructive feedback on how to improve.
- Handle customer complaints: Customer service managers are often called in to manage difficult customers. Although no one enjoys dealing with angry customers, it’s your job to calm them down, investigate the problem, and recommend solutions.
- Prepare reports: With the help of a customer service tool, you’ll create reports that provide insights into service requests and your team’s performance across channels. Your reports will help your team (and the company) identify areas of improvement, bringing them closer to meeting your customers’ expectations and achieving goals.
- Hire and train service agents: You’ll be in charge of selecting new customer service staff. After picking the right people to join the team, you’re expected to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to help customers.
- Relay feedback from customers to management: Customer service managers serve as a bridge between the customer and the company. You’ll need to communicate customer feedback about your products or services to management and other departments so they can align their work with customer needs and expectations.
- Improve policies and processes: When obsolete policies and complex processes stand in the way of your customers getting the help they need, it’s your job to suggest a better way of doing things. This could include recommending an outdated return policy be removed or adding new documentation to the knowledge base so your customers can find the information they need.
What are the qualifications for a customer service manager job?
Although having a degree might enhance your resume, what matters most is your ability to serve customers and manage a team. Having a vast range of soft skills will also help you transition into a customer service manager role.
But this isn’t an entry-level job, so most employers are looking for applicants with several years of experience in customer service or a related field (like retail or hospitality). According to Maya Rotenberg, VP of marketing at Stoke Talent, recruiters look for candidates who’ve held jobs that teach a basic understanding of customer expectations and behavior.
We spoke with other business leaders for their perspective on what it takes to become a successful customer service manager. They recommend highlighting the following characteristics, skills, and certifications on your resume to stand out from the rest.
Recruiters look for candidates who’ve held jobs that teach a basic understanding of customer expectations and behavior.
Customer service manager traits and soft skills
The skills listed on your resume can make or break your chances of landing a job as a customer service manager. Remember: A balance of people, management, and service skills is needed for this role.
Customer service managers should possess:
- Great communication skills: To succeed in customer service management, you need to be a clear and persuasive speaker. You also should be able to practice active listening while interacting with customers and team members.
- Motivational skills: When team morale is low, you’ll have to step up and find ways to make everyone feel better. (You’ll also have to encourage yourself to keep going after a bad day.)
- A customer-centric attitude: The customer is at the heart of customer service. So, you always need to put the customer first. Karla Juric, a customer support manager at Better Proposals, says the customer support team is the customer’s “safe space.” As the manager, you’re the person they turn to when they’ve run out of options. It’s essential to keep that responsibility in mind.
- Patience: Handling customer complaints and supervising service agents can be difficult. Your ability to remain calm and objective in all situations is a must-have skill.
- Problem-solving skills: This soft skill is essential to identify issues quickly, figure out what’s wrong, and find helpful solutions. Gabriel Dungan, CEO at ViscoSoft, looks for customer service manager resumes with keywords like “assisted customers,” “overcame (a challenge or issue),” and “resolved.”
- Product knowledge: As a customer service manager, you’ll be asked many questions about your company’s product and how it works. You can only help your customers and team members understand the product if you know it inside and out.
- Empathy: You must be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and acknowledge their feelings. According to Dungan, empathy is important for successfully leading a team. “The advice that I’d give to an aspiring customer service manager is to learn empathy,” he says. “As a manager, you’ll be dealing with both customers and employees whose emotions are running high.” Being empathic helps you appropriately respond to every situation, whether with customers or team members.
- Organizational skills: In this role, you’ll be pulled in a hundred different directions on any given day. So, you have to focus on the right things and direct your attention to the problems that most affect your customers and direct reports.
"The advice that I’d give to an aspiring customer service manager is to learn empathy."
Gabriel Dungan, CEO at ViscoSoft
You’ll use various customer service tools to make your workflow faster and more efficient, so you’ll need to understand how they work and how to leverage them to help your customers. You’ll also have to know how to use management and communication tools to better serve your buyers and work seamlessly with your team.
Make sure to mention if you have experience working with:
- Help desk tools like Zendesk
- Social listening tools like Sprout Social
- Email tools like Mailchimp
- Customer survey tools like SurveyMonkey
- Internal communication tools like Slack
- Video conferencing tools like Zoom
Certifications help you improve your skills and make your resume stand out. They can also increase your chances of negotiating a higher salary in a new position and gaining greater responsibilities.
Consider obtaining the following certifications to set yourself apart from other candidates:
- Customer service leadership certification: This is perfect for support agents who want to transition into a customer service management role. It teaches the technical skills and strategy needed to run a successful service team.
- Customer experience certification: Discover practical ways to improve the overall customer experience. After completing the course, you’ll understand customer expectations and deliver better support.
- Help desk certification: Learn IT support best practices and how to use help desk tools. The course also gives you a chance to refresh your knowledge of customer support basics.
Customer service manager resume example
You have all the qualities needed to be a great customer service manager. But the only thing standing between you and your dream job is writing a stellar resume. Here’s a helpful template you can use to showcase your skills and work experience.
From service agent to manager
Now that you know all the qualifications you need to transition into this challenging but rewarding role, what’s next?
One way to advance into a customer service manager role is to enlist the help of your current manager. “Make it known to your current manager that you are interested in a management position, and ask for opportunities to learn the management side of things,” advises Rolf Bax, chief human resources officer at Resume.io.
Learning from an experienced professional will fast-track your progress and help you land the job of your dreams.