What’s it all about then?
In this job, you’ll be responsible for the motivating and managing of a team of customer service staff, ensuring that they’re providing the best service possible to all of your company’s clients.
Often working alongside the sales team, your department will normally be the initial point of contact for customers contacting the company and you’ll oversee the handling of various issues and enquiries.
You’ll also liaise with the sales team and provide regular feedback from customers which will help improve service levels from your business.
In addition, you will need to be an expert in all of the products made by your company so that you can support your staff in answering calls and particularly in resolving customer queries and issues in a polite and effective manner.
What might I be doing?
As a customer services manager, it would be your job to make sure that customers’ needs and expectations are met.
Although you’ll have team leadership responsibilities, you’ll probably deal with some queries in person, particularly those of a complex nature requiring experience and tact.
In a larger food company, you may well be responsible for developing effective customer service policies and then making sure these are implemented both by your own team and others in the organisation who have a direct effect on how client businesses experience service and quality levels.
You’ll recruit and develop your staff and also need to keep abreast of developments that affect your team, both internally and externally.
Part of your role will be reporting the customer service levels achieved by your staff to senior management.
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be expected to be completely up to date with all of your company’s products and be able to handle problems notified by customers quickly and effectively.
As head of the team that is the first point of contact for customers, you are very important to maintaining good client relationships and ensuring the continuing profitability of your company.
An expert customer service manager will be expected to be able to resolve issues calmly, quickly and effectively.
What can I expect?
You’ll probably work between 35 and 40 hours a week, although there may be some time outside of this if your company has a network of foreign customers and you need to provide service to different time zones. This could mean that some of your team may well work shifts.
Much of your work will be done via the telephone but you will also attend regular meetings with customers to be sure that the levels of customer service in your company meet their expectations.
What about the pay?
Salaries for customer service managers can be from £20,000 to £25,000 a year although with experience and extra responsibilities, this can rise up to around £30,000 or above.
You may also receive a target related bonus.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
Many managers start by working their way up from a general customer service role to become a supervisor or team leader, before being promoted to a management position.
Some firms, especially larger ones, offer management training schemes for staff and new recruits who have relevant experience and/or qualifications.
Working in the food manufacturing sector you will probably have a food or business related degree subject.
What about further training?
You’ll probably receive a great deal of on the job training and be expected to develop yourself though part-time or evening study and there are numerous management qualifications which include elements of customer service.
You could choose to work towards more general management qualifications from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) or the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). These organisations offer several options to cater for people with different levels of responsibility.
If your employer is a member of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), you may be able to get access to a number of ICS continuing professional development (CPD) awards that could be useful for career progression. Check the ICS website for more details and speak to your employer to find out about CPD opportunities.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, if you have good motivational skills, enjoy leading a team and always put the customer first, then this could be the right career for you in the food industry!