A customer service manager is responsible for overseeing the customer service operations of a company. They make sure customer delight is always a top priority.
A customer service manager's job is to empower their team to provide the best possible service. These leaders give representatives the tools and frameworks necessary to make every customer interaction a positive, productive experience.
Perhaps you're looking to hire a customer service manager for your organization, or maybe you're looking to move into the role yourself.
First, let's discuss what a customer service manager does, the skills necessary for success, and what to expect from the position.
Table of Contents
- Customer Service Manager Job Description
- What does a customer service manager do?
- Customer Service Manager Requirements and Skills
- Customer Service Manager Responsibilities
- How to Be a Good Customer Service Manager
- Expert Tips from CSMs
Customer Service Manager Job Description
A customer service manager is responsible for customer satisfaction, ensuring customer needs are met. Customer service managers achieve this objective by providing a productive work environment and equipping representatives with the tools necessary to succeed.
Customer service managers are uniquely situated between the customer and the business. They understand the customer's and the business's needs, facilitating success for both parties.
Accordingly, a customer service manager is a valuable team member. Now, let's get into more detail about what customer service managers do.
What does a customer service manager do?
The primary goal of a customer service manager is to ensure that customers receive the best service and support. This translates to happy, paying customers who grow with your company.
When it comes to delighting customers, customer service managers have many responsibilities.
Here are some examples:
- Enabling the service team to provide an excellent, customer-centric experience by holding the team accountable and removing roadblocks.
- Having a deep understanding of the company's products and services.
- Managing escalated issues.
- Monitoring the team's performance and reporting on critical metrics.
- Iterating ways to improve performance, efficiency, and efficacy based on customer feedback.
- Providing insights from customer data to marketing and sales. This information can help grow the organization and reduce churn.
Depending on who your customers are and what your company provides, the role of a customer service manager may vary.
However, regardless of industry, a customer service manager must understand customers' needs and always solve for their success.
Now that we know more about customer service managers, let's review the necessary skills and requirements for the job.
Customer Service Manager Requirements and Skills
Customer service managers typically have a degree in business or marketing, a customer service background, and experience leading a team. Strong leadership skills and a proficiency in customer service technology are must-have skills for someone in this position.
A Bachelor's Degree in Business, Marketing, or a Related Field
This is usually preferred but not required. Previous experience can be more valuable than an applicable degree, depending on the role.
Experience Working in Customer Service
A customer service manager needs to understand the work her team is responsible for. There's no better way to learn that than through experience.
That being said, it's possible to move into a customer service manager role from a different management position. You'll just need a track record of leading teams to success.
Strong Leadership Skills and Experience Managing a Team
A candidate for a customer service manager role needs to demonstrate leadership skills that inspire and motivate a team.
Even if they don't have official management experience, CSM hopefuls should have experience in managing projects.
Proficiency in Computers and Customer Service Software
Customer service managers should be comfortable using CRMs and reporting tools to keep track of team performance.
- Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to make quick decisions
- A customer-centric mindset and the ability to empathize with customers
- The ability to effectively manage and motivate a team
- Excellent organizational and time management skills
- Attention to detail and the ability to multitask
- A strong work ethic and the ability to work under pressure
Additionally, a customer service manager should be knowledgeable about their industry. Candidates must understand the products or services the company offers and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in customer service.
Customer Service Manager Responsibilities
- Maintaining Lasting Relationships with Profitable Customers
- Hiring and Training the Customer Service Team
- Setting Goals for the Team and Checking Progress
- Representing the Voice of the Customer
- Dealing with Employee Issues and Consequences
- Handling Serious, Long-Lasting Issues with Customers
- Establishing and Maintaining a Positive, Customer-Centric Team Culture
Customer Service Managers are responsible for delivering the best possible customer service experience.
They organize and motivate service reps, manage incoming case volume, and communicate customer behavioral trends to other departments.
See some common customer service manager responsibilities below.
1. Maintaining Lasting Relationships with Profitable Customers
Customer service managers strive for customer delight across the board.
However, they are particularly responsible for satisfying the company's highest-value customers. Therefore, customer service managers must identify the highest-value customers and develop strategies for satisfying and retaining them.
Strategies could include personalized service and high-touch relationship management to maximize customer lifetime value.
"Half the battle of being a CSM is thinking about 'right customer, right time' to help get them and keep them on track, driving adoption in your tool," says Michael Renahan, senior manager of customer success at HubSpot.
"Plan your day with a clear focus. Know who in their lifecycle needs to hear from you now and why they need to hear from you."
2. Hiring and Training the Customer Service Team
Customer service managers need to recruit and train new team members. This includes developing job descriptions, conducting interviews, and onboarding new hires.
Customer service managers are responsible for training new hires to handle customer inquiries and provide a delightful customer experience.
Training is an ongoing process. Customer service managers must be available to guide service reps throughout their careers. A great customer service manager is a resource to their team, facilitating learning and growth.
3. Setting Goals for the Team and Checking Progress
Customer service managers must ensure representatives understand their responsibilities and meet company goals. Often, managers set individual goals for each employee, especially those at the beginning of their career.
When setting goals, managers should, of course, guarantee that they're attainable. Employees should always feel challenged, but not to the point of feeling overwhelmed.
According to Zendesk, managers should always set clear goals for customer service reps because it helps them succeed.
Customer service managers may set weekly or bi-weekly goals for their team. They also meet with reps to check their progress and ensure their workload is manageable.
4. Representing the Voice of the Customer
A company can't exist without its customers. However, many employees are disconnected from the customer and their needs.
Not the customer service manager. A customer service manager must understand the customers' needs and advocate for them within the organization.
By working so closely with customers, customer service managers get the unique opportunity to hear feedback. They can uncover problems that need to be solved, customer likes and dislikes, and feedback regarding customer engagement.
It's their responsibility to understand these customers inside and out. As a result, they help close the gap between the company and the customer. This leads to a better experience for customers in the long term.
5. Dealing with Employee Issues and Consequences
Customer service managers are responsible for their teams, which sometimes means dealing with missed expectations around performance and behavior.
If issues arise, managers must remain calm and create an action plan. It can be tough laying down the law, but that's a big part of being a manager.
If an employee has an issue, the manager will meet with them, hear their side of the story, and relay any necessary consequences. By creating a supportive work environment, the customer service manager can build a motivated team.
Employees become more adept at handling performance issues empathetically and respectfully.
6. Handling Serious, Long-Lasting Issues with Customers
Sometimes, there are customer issues that go beyond the scope of what reps can solve. In these cases, customers may get so upset that a manager must step in.
In either circumstance, a customer service manager must be equipped to handle these types of escalations.
Diffusing an angry customer can be very difficult. A customer service manager should be the company's expert in this field.
That means being empathetic, actively listening, and apologizing, even when it's unclear why a customer is so upset.
A great customer service manager can see things from the customer's perspective, even when empathizing is painful.
Companies that invest in customer happiness typically show revenue growth — and a customer service manager is vital to supporting customer happiness.
7. Establishing and Maintaining a Positive, Customer-Centric Team Culture
Culture is king, and a customer service manager is responsible for establishing and maintaining a healthy team culture that facilitates performance, happiness, productivity, and prioritizes the customer's success.
Curation of culture is a holistic process that starts with hiring, where the customer service manager makes sure to build a team of individuals who fit within the company's mission.
Maintaining healthy company culture is an everyday responsibility that involves communicating a shared mission, fostering a sense of community, and ensuring that all actions and communications are working toward the same goal.
Of course, it's easier said than done, but a great customer service manager must captain the ship and inspire their team with trust and purpose.
How to Be a Good Customer Service Manager
- Lead by example.
- Solve for the customer.
- Remove roadblocks for your team.
- Measure the things that matter.
- Turn mistakes into learning moments.
- Always consider the role service has in the organization as a whole.
1. Lead by example.
A good manager shows their team that they always have their back. By demonstrating hard work and dedication, customer service managers inspire their team to go above.
A great manager isn't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. It's sometimes necessary for complex cases or an overwhelming volume of incoming customer inquiries.
2. Solve for the customer.
It's easy to get swept up in internal processes and policies. However, a great manager is flexible and always considers the customers' best interests.
If it doesn't make the experience better for the customer, then question why you're doing it at all.
"The ability to tie specific product and technical knowledge back to a customer's high-level goals is imperative," says Aaron Schneider, a Customer Success Manager at HubSpot.
"Flexing that muscle whenever possible will give you credibility with your customers, serve as examples for future CSM interviews, and help you grow as a professional."
3. Remove roadblocks for your team.
Always be in communication with your reps. Ask questions and understand what's keeping them from meeting or exceeding goals. It's the manager's job to identify and remove roadblocks so that the team is always performing at its best.
4. Measure the things that matter.
Creating measurable goals and providing critical stakeholders with data-driven insights are essential. This will give you context as you make decisions and demonstrate progress.
For example, NPS scores, number of touch points per channel, and percentage of first-call resolutions can all be great for giving necessary context.
5. Turn mistakes into learning moments.
When a team member makes a mistake, your first gut instinct may be to reprimand. However, mistakes tend to be a significant driver of learning.
A great customer service manager turns a rep's mistake into a teaching moment so they can improve.
6. Always consider the role service has in the organization as a whole.
Keeping the greater business perspective in mind will help you make informed decisions that solve for the customer and move the needle for the company.
Remember, a great experience can turn a satisfied customer into a brand advocate and promoter.
Expert Tips from CSMs
1. Ask the right questions.
Solving a challenge for the customer involves asking questions and discovering user pain points.
"Your main priority is to understand your customers, their business model, how they value success, who the decision-makers and stakeholders are, and what they care about," says Jessica Aguilar, a customer success manager at HubSpot.
"Ask the questions that are going to help you get these answers."
According to Aguilar, you need to ask customers about their roadblocks to find the best solution.
"Lean into questions like, 'When did this problem begin?' 'What steps have you taken so far to solve this problem?' 'How has it impacted your business?'" Aguilar says.
"Once you have all the details, set expectations on what you'll be doing to investigate the issue."
2. Tap fellow CSMs for guidance.
"Engage with your peers across different segments. Set up 1-on-1 coffee chats with other Customer Success Managers," suggests Laura Prange, a customer success manager at HubSpot.
"Here at HubSpot, we have a handful of CSMs who have been in their roles for 5+ years. These people have invaluable insights into how your role has grown, where to focus, and how to quickly get answers to your questions."
Once you've had helpful conversations with your peers, extend the program to your team. You can help coordinate coffee chats between customer service representatives in different departments.
3. Work closely with sales to meet organization-wide goals.
Customer service managers need to partner with members of the sales organization to meet business goals. Conversations with the sales team can help you understand your tool's use cases and spot potential roadblocks early.
"Set internal meetings with your sales counterparts to align on your shared customers. I personally have a recurring monthly meeting with the sales reps who share the most accounts with me," says HubSpot's Jessica Aguilar.
"We use that time to discuss updates from our shared customers, if they're assessing any additional products, how we can partner together so they can grow with us and see value, review their roadblocks, and also review whether we can partner to engage previously unengaged contacts," she notes.
4. Admit when you need backup.
"Be at peace with saying, 'I do not know,'” says HubSpot's Aaron Schneider.
"[Gather] those challenging customer questions and situations…for the next time you are asked. And, be transparent in your knowledge of a certain topic. CSMs are not product experts. We are generalists and strategists."
Managing the Transition
Being a customer service manager can be both challenging and rewarding. To be successful in this role, you must be a great communicator, empathetic, and have strong problem-solving skills.
Remember, in this role, your goal is to create a culture where great customer service is the norm, not the exception.