WHAT does a day in the life of a general manager in customer services entail?
Writing reports and analysing data to determine the level of customer service standards, monitoring performance and turnaround times, and the performance of back office support.
Also identifying gaps and ensuring that all channels of communication are fully functional to enable customers to make contact with a company through the medium they choose to use.
Why did you decide on this career?
I worked for a telecommunications company as a divisional manager: communications, and the company introduced an organisation-wide service excellence initiative. I participated in this project and I enjoyed the experience and developed an interest from there.
How did you get into this career?
I applied for a position of a general manager customer care, where I had to set up a department, establish walk-in centres, and establish a contact centre.
Developments got very exciting and I also introduced staff service excellence awards and I never looked back.
With a qualification in Communications, I developed an interest in customer relationship management, and after being appointed a GM for customer care, I did a lot of CRM-related research and read journals on the topic. I was later invited to deliver a conference paper on "Repositioning your Call Centre Internally", and this gave me an enthusiasm to read more publications on the topic.
What is most challenging about working in customer services?
It is more challenging when you have to coordinate a complex and urgent customer query requiring feedback from more than one roleplayer in the value chain.
Having to deal with angry customers because somebody did not do what they were supposed to do to meet customers' needs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Instilling a culture of service excellence in staff, and ending up with a delighted customer.
What type of person will make it in this industry?
You must be sensitive, sincere, have a positive attitude, empathy, good human relations and listening skills. All of these can be learned and are key characteristics in customer service.
What subjects do you need to pass in high school to study towards this career?
You would need English to enable you to communicate at all levels with both internal and external customers and you must be computer literate.
What does one study at tertiary level to be able to get into this career?
l Consumer studies
l Business studies
l Management studies
What career opportunities exist for a general manager: customer services?
Customer service career opportunities vary in nature, to mention but a few: customer communication; workforce management; quality assurance; CRM (customer relationship management) specialist; customer experience; contact centre.
What growth prospects are there for this career?
In order to become a customer service manager in some organisations, you may first need to train and gain experience in a role such as customer service representative, from this you can progress to higher levels such as team leader.
There are also various levels of management. The time it takes varies, depending on the type and size of the organisation.
As your career develops, you may upgrade your membership of professional associations such as the Institute of People Management.
To further progress, one should attend short courses, read relevant books and articles and meet fellow professionals, to improve one's knowledge.