Case study

Customer service manager — Daniel Rushton

Daniel holds qualifications in PR and marketing and after applying for his position on LinkedIn, now works as a customer service manager at signed sports memorabilia organisation

Why did you choose a career in retail?

We're all consumers and I have had countless experiences with customer service representatives in retail. Some good, some not so good. I wanted to be part of a growing workforce and offer my own insights and ideas.

How did you get your job?

I applied for my current job at through LinkedIn. A week after my application I was offered an interview and a month after that I started working for Icons.

What kind of tasks do you complete in a typical day?

I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet and talk with people from all across the world and help them with consumer issues.

I offer my expertise on the products we sell, deal with complaints, work on the dispatch of goods and also pick stock for shipping. I also help work on our blogs and social media videos.

What do you enjoy about being a customer service manager?

People look at customer service from the outside and think it's simple. That certainly isn't the case. The nature of our business means that we sometimes have to deal with complex issues and I thrive on that. If I am not being challenged then what's the point?

You get to help the people you work with and you get to help people who buy from the business you work for and that for me is what it's all about.

What are the challenges?

Language barriers can sometimes be an issue but it's something that we can always overcome. The fact that we ship fragile goods to China, the US and The Middle-East means that damages can occur. This obviously frustrates customers and we all know how challenging some customers can be. You just have to remember that you are representing a brand, and anything said against you is not personal.

What three skills do you need for a successful career as a customer service manager?

  • The most important thing for me is patience. Some things take longer to solve than others and when a customer comes to you with a problem it's important that you take the time to consider the issue and take the course of action that benefits both you and the consumer.
  • Secondly, I think most people would agree that empathy is paramount to being a good customer service manager. You need to be able to empathise with your customers and your employees/colleagues. It's frustrating when someone spends so much money on a product and it doesn't match their expectations. You need to show that you can relate with that and rectify any issues or reservations they may have. Customer service representatives can have a tough time every now and again too- you can be verbally abused or threatened because again, you are representing a brand and you are essentially the face of that brand. Showing your colleagues that you care and can relate with them is equally as important as showing empathy to customers.
  • Lastly, adaptability. Each situation is different. As a customer service manager I strive to make every single experience for each customer as personalised as possible. In a world of AI and bots I think it's imperative to maintain the human element in customer service. This means you need to be able to adapt to every situation. This makes the entire experience for the consumer worth their while. Give them the information they ask for, expand on it based on what you believe they may be interested in and keep them intrigued.

What are your career ambitions?

I want to incorporate creativity into customer service. One day I want to be part of, or the leader of, a team that not only helps a consumer but also offers insights on how to improve a business from all aspects. From the social media and marketing side of things all the way to the shop floor (if applicable). As we delve further into a more digitised form of consumerism, I want to ensure that the customer isn't left behind.

Can you debunk a myth about working in retail?

You don't have to be smart to work in customer service. This really gets to me. I had a colleague who once said in a meeting in front of a customer service team that 'you can employ monkeys to do customer service' and that really stuck with me, as it is one of the toughest jobs in business. People who work within the sector don't get enough credit.

What are the three biggest challenges currently facing the retail sector?

  • AI
  • digitisation
  • employee retention.

AI is completely taking away the human-element of working in customer service. Most of us work and communicate via email now so that face-to-face element is disappearing and making way for the digital age. Keeping people enthused and passionate about this industry is a huge task and we need to do more for people who work in retail.

What advice can you give to others who’s like to become customer service manager?

Try to manage a team in an industry you're passionate about. I have worked for several companies and while I've enjoyed my time at these places, I wasn't passionate enough about the product. Choose wisely and do a job you love.

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