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What does a customer service manager do?

Customer service managers are an integral part of contact centers. They are the team leader, trainer and policy maker.

A customer service manager oversees a team of people who respond to inquiries from prospective, current and past customers.

A successful customer service manager uses both technical expertise and interpersonal skills to run a contact center. The person is a manager and a leader.

Customer service manager job description

The job description is usually broken into two categories: duties and responsibilities, and qualifications and requirements.

Duties and responsibilities of a customer service manager

Here are some of the key duties and responsibilities of a customer service manager:

  • Supervise customer service team. Supervisory duties include coaching, training and motivating staff to perform effectively. Customer service managers must also create an environment where employees feel valuable to the organization.
  • Respond to customer inquiries. Customers reach out to customer service teams when they have questions about products or services. Staff may interact with customers across several channels, including phone, email and chat. Customer service managers must ensure that responses are accurate and provided in a timely manner, regardless of the channel.
  • Develop policies and procedures. Policies and procedures make up the playbook that customer service agents follow to resolve customer inquiries. Policies and procedures must balance satisfying customer needs and supporting the goals of the organization. They require constant review and revision as customer needs change and the business evolves.
  • Focus on customer satisfaction. This means addressing customer "pain points," adjusting policies and procedures, ensuring agents are well trained, measuring customer satisfaction and responding to customer feedback. Higher satisfaction can lead to larger spend, higher customer retention and favorable referrals. While customers may not always get the response they want, managers must ensure the message is delivered in an effective manner. And if possible, alternative options should be provided to the customer.
  • Hire staff. Customer service agents need the right personality and tools to interact with customers -- and it's up to the customer service manager to find qualified candidates. During the hiring process, managers must assess required skills for this role, including technical competency, problem solving and communication.
  • Train staff. Training is essential for new hires -- and current employees -- to be successful in jobs. Training activities for new and veteran agents may include classroom lectures, role playing and interactive videos. Ongoing training is just as important as training at the time of hire, as it provides employees with the opportunity to learn new skills and climb the career ladder.
  • Develop goals and report progress. There are many contact center metrics that could be monitored and reported on. But the key is to determine which metrics are the most important to the organization and create goals and objectives around those. Progress toward those goals must also be reported at the individual, team and department levels on a regular basis. 
    Learn more about key customer service metrics to measure contact center success.
  • Continue to learn. The practices and tools that support a customer service organization are constantly evolving. Managers should constantly read articles, participate in webinars and attend conferences to stay up to date on technology changes and practices.

Qualifications and requirements of a customer service manager

Here are some of the key qualifications and requirements for a customer service manager:

  • Previous related work experience. The customer service manager position is not an entry-level role, so previous experience interacting with customers and leading a team of employees is essential. But this does not mean the individual must have worked in a customer service organization in the past. People with retail backgrounds who regularly interacted with customers likely have these -- or related -- foundational experiences.
  • Strong communication skills. Successful leaders can communicate with team members across a variety of media. Leaders must be able to share and receive information, requiring strong verbal and written communication skills. Communications can be both formal and informal, and the customer service manager must be able to adjust communications for their target audience.
  • Strong leadership skills. The customer service manager must be able to work with people with different needs. They must also create an environment and reward system that will motivate employees to perform at their peak.
  • Proficiency using software. Much of the software used in customer service organizations helps provide structure, organization and communication with staff. The customer service manager must have a minimal competency level and be comfortable using tools such as contact center software, workforce management software, email and messaging apps.

What are the salary expectations for customer service managers?

There is a range of salaries for customer service managers. Many factors can contribute to the salary of this manager, including organization size, location, prior experience and industry.

The following are examples of the salary ranges reported for customer service managers:

  • Salary.com shows a salary range of $70,727 to $123,708, with a median salary of $93,368.
  • Payscale shows a salary range of $41,000 to $85,000, with an average salary of $58,987.
  • ZipRecruiter shows a salary range of $21,500 to $87,500 with an average salary of $52,449.

In addition to these base salary numbers, many positions may offer bonuses along with other benefits and incentives.

What makes a good customer service manager?

Customer service managers must use technical expertise and interpersonal skills to successfully run a contact center.

They need to know how to attain key metrics such as service levels and use tools such as workforce management to manage productivity. They also need to be able to make real-time adjustments to respond to unplanned circumstances.

There is no optimal career path for becoming a successful customer service manager. In some cases, a successful manager may rise through the ranks from representative to manager. In other cases, a manager may be brought in from another organization to provide an external perspective.

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