Customer service, in general, characterises how products or services are delivered to the customer through accessibility, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and satisfaction. It is truly a process of creating a trusting relationship that instils a sense of loyalty by the customer in the product or service as well as the company or brand.

Customer service therefore goes beyond the immediate interaction. Customers want to be helped by people in customer service jobs who are going to be of some use to them; they do not want to be bombarded by a scripted approach or deal with someone with poor listening skills. This means that any potential employer will give serious attention to applicants who can demonstrate a fundamental understanding of what jobs in customer service entail.

Why are retail customer service jobs so popular?

The customer service industry is one of the biggest sectors in the UK for a number of reasons.

People person.

One of the main benefits of having a customer service job is the ability to interact with members of the public day in and day out, regardless whether the job is in a store or office-based. Outgoing and very sociable people find this type of job very rewarding and are drawn to it.

Opportunity to help others.

Interacting with customers in this type of role has everything to do with helping others.  Customers often need assistance or have issues that need resolved, tending to which is the main goal of people in customer service jobs.  The benefits of helping others are hugely positive, not to mention are simply fulfilling.

Working with a team.

There is often a very healthy camaraderie among staff in these jobs.  Part of this may be due to the fact that part of assisting customers and resolving their issues often involves collaboration with colleagues to reach a result that is satisfactory to the customer.

Skills are transferable.

Some people only enter roles of customer service for a set period of time, while other people enter the roles to create a career.  Regardless of the motivation, anyone working in such a role will hone their interpersonal and other skills that will surely be advantageous and applicable in future roles in any other career path. Transferable skills include managing a workload, using initiative, dealing with the public, collaborating with a team, among others.  Any subsequent career move will be that much easier to obtain with these skills already under the belt.

Career progression.

While some people enter a job at a certain level and are content to remain, there are others who look for an opportunity to progress before choosing to follow any particular career path.  For the people who truly fit into the role of customer service, the jobs available are definitely structured to allow for promotion.  The levels can be from customer service assistant, to retail assistant manager, and to store manager and beyond.

Customer service assistant.

Lots of retail businesses, like airports, banks, supermarkets, and retail stores, hire customer service assistants with the work involving arranging shop displays to participating in customer events and promotions. Usually there are no set hours for this type of job since these companies may be open on weekends, evenings, and even holidays.

However, the advantage one has in this type of job is flexible working options that may be part-time or full-time. It may be easier to adapt requirements of this job to certain types of lifestyles. The positives are the job includes getting to work with and help other people resolve their problems, gaining skills that can benefit a longer-term career. This role is also a great way to learn about the company, to gain experience, and even receive training. These all lead to the next level in sales or any other career.

Retail assistant manager.

Whether working in a tiny local shop or a big store, this position provides support to the manager, looking after staff and covering the manager's responsibly when he or she is away. People in retail assistant manager jobs have to make sure the shop floor runs smoothly, helps meet the store's monthly targets, handles budgets, recruits and trains staff, monitors customer service, assists with complaints and deals with inquiries, serves customers as needed, develops rotas and shifts, manages deliveries, and monitors product placement and displays.

The benefits of this position include plenty of variety and responsibility, great career progression opportunity, on-going training offered by the company, improved management skills, and the opportunity to lead and motivate people.

Store manager.

The store manager is the crucial element in a busy and dynamic environment that changes daily. The range of duties includes high levels of customer service to reviewing issues of security. Store managers will ensure sales targets are reached, find ways to increase profits, interview and recruit new staff, deal with customer service issues, organize training, supervise assistant or department managers, organise holidays and rotas, and oversee control of stock and receiving orders.

This is a challenging and fulfilling position that really does change all of the time, offering new experiences that never get boring. There are always different challenges to meet and different projects to complete.