A customer support job is a fantastic career choice for you if you like to solve problems, help others, and directly impact the bottom line at your company. If you’re looking for a customer support job but aren’t sure whether the career is right for you, I’ve got you covered.
When I first started at HubSpot, I worked on the customer support team, so I have first-hand experience on the field. In this post, you’ll learn the skills and expertise you can gain from a job in customer support — and how the experience will benefit you for the rest of your career.
Why work in customer service?
Working in customer service can be extremely rewarding. You help people achieve goals and play a direct role in customer success. And, the professional skills you develop in this field can be applied to any career you pursue.
Is customer service a good job?
Customer service is a fantastic job. It’s unfairly considered as a “backup career” because customer support reps can enter the industry with any experience level and background. But customer service is at the core of a company’s success, making it one of the most vital roles you can play after product and sales. It allows you to impact the bottom line at your company while forging meaningful connections with your teammates and customers.
In fact, customer service might be the most important job at a company. According to Microsoft, 90% of consumers choose to do business with a company based on the quality of its customer service. You yourself might feel that way. How many times have you stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer support experience? As a customer support rep, you’d directly impact how much revenue your company makes from returning customers.
You might have preconceived notions about customer support from your own service experiences. These interactions can sometimes make you think a customer-facing role isn't for you.
But, I'm here to tell you that a customer support job can be a fantastic first step on the path toward a successful career — in almost any business function you might be interested in.
Curious about what those benefits might be? Read on for a list of reasons why you should work in customer service.
Best Reasons to Work in Customer Support
1. You’ll develop your emotional intelligence.
It's a given that you'll develop people skills while working in a customer-facing role. And, although there can be challenges to working on the phones with customers all day, the skills and strategies you'll develop far outweigh those challenges.
You'll be helping customers solve a variety of different problems, which could have a huge impact on their personal or professional life. Your ability to empathize and wield social skills will be critical to build rapport with customers and get the information you need to help them.
In the face of difficult customers or combative language, you'll need to tap into your sense of self-regulation to calmly and effectively de-escalate customers so you can better assist them. During those tough days when you don't feel like you can make another phone call (we all have them), you’ll go into your senses of motivation and self-awareness to keep yourself on-track and positive so you can buckle down and get everything done.
Studies have shown that these people skills are linked more closely with success in the
workplace than cognitive intelligence — especially when it comes to management. Starting your career in customer support sets you on the right track for building and growing these skills. (Plus, they're helpful for effective interpersonal relationship communication and collaboration, too.)
2. You’ll learn your product or service, inside and out.
To be successful in customer support, you need to understand every aspect of your product or service so you can quickly answer questions and resolve issues for your customers. But this isn't just a benefit for the people who will get the information they need ASAP — it's a big win for you, too.
Learning about your product or service helps you become a subject matter expert — which can open a ton of different doors for you as you grow in your career.
For example, by practicing teaching your customers how to use your product or service, you'll be able to specialize in training and onboarding new members of your customer support team and take on a leadership role. If you prefer writing, you might be able to start writing knowledge base articles or blog posts for your organization to supplement one-off customer support interactions. Or, you could use your creative side to create step-by-step product walkthrough videos to help your customers and build your online presence.
Regardless of the avenue you decide to take, an in-depth product or service knowledge will help you become an expert — on your team, within your organization, and in your industry.
3. You’ll build transferable Skills.
Building your subject matter expertise will help you grow within your customer support team — but you'll also learn valuable skills that you can use to snag a new role if you want to branch out even further.
Working with customers will teach you exactly how customers can use your company's product or service to achieve their goals. You can use this knowledge and experience if you decided to move into sales. Social proof is an effective selling tool, and if you can tell prospects on the phone exactly how your product or service has helped other customers, they might be more interested in closing a deal with you.
Product knowledge is incredibly valuable for your marketing team, too. Whether you want to write for the blog, conduct product and market research, or manage social media support channels, in-depth product expertise and killer communication skills could help you land a role on your marketing team.
Product Development Skills
If you know the product inside and out, you might be able to build it, too. If you develop some chops for product development — whether that consists of software engineering, outreach, or vendor management — you might be able to use your wealth of knowledge to facilitate a transition away from the phones. You can then work behind-the-scenes to build the product you're servicing.
4. You can educate customers without selling.
One of my favorite parts of working in customer service was being in a position where I could teach a customer something about the product without having to sell them on the solution.
For example, HubSpot offers a platform of products at various subscriptions and tiers. In some support cases, the best solution available was using a product that the customer didn't own. This left us with two choices: review the advantages of buying the additional product or find a creative workaround.
The first option allowed me to gently flex my sales skills without having the pressure of closing a deal. The furthest I would have to take the case was handing it off to sales rep who would continue the rest of the pitch.
Option two encouraged me to be creative. Between me and the customer, I was the product expert — which meant the customer was looking to me to find a solution. Whether it was using a product in a new way or thinking of an out-of-the-box alternative, I always felt like a wizard whenever I found a workaround to a problem I couldn't directly solve.
5. You can develop a side project.
Here at HubSpot, we make sure our customer support reps spend time away from the phones — deliberately.
This time away from the queue accomplishes a few things. It gives customer support reps time to eat, take breaks, attend meetings, walk their dogs, etc. But more importantly, giving customer support reps time away from the call queue gives them time to spend working on side projects and other initiatives can bring tremendous value to our organization — and to the reps themselves.
For example, one HubSpot customer support rep who specialized in social media decided to start a dedicated social media channel for rapid customer support on Twitter. They took the insights they learned on the phones with customers to conduct research and start an initiative they thought would be impactful — and they were right.
You'll learn a ton about your company's customers while you're on the phones. So make sure you're tracking those insights and dedicating them to a side project or initiative that could bring a lot of value to your organization and to you.
Plus, anyone who has a pulse on the voice of the customer has a ton of value to offer their team and other teams — so it's yet another benefit you could bring to the table for a promotion or transfer discussion with your manager.
6. You’ll learn how to effectively solve problems.
At the heart of it, customer support is about reactively helping your customers and solving their problems. And whether it's a quick fix or a multi-step process, every customer problem will require creative thinking, people skills, and expertise to solve.
The ability to solve problems quickly, effectively, and diplomatically is critical for any job there is — whether it's in customer support or not. The ability to problem-solve is the building block of being able to prioritize, project manage, and resolve conflicts, and these skills are required if you want to earn promotions, manage a team, and use your influence and expertise to achieve your goals.
7. You’ll master different communication mediums.
Many customer service teams require reps to work on different support channels. This means you'll go from working with customers on the phone one day to emailing them the next. But, as you continue to bounce between the various communication mediums your company offers, you'll eventually master the art of digital conversation.
Here are a few support channels you'll be exposed to:
- Live Chat
- Social Media
- Community Forum
Understanding how to communicate effectively on these platforms will help you establish relationships with people you may not have met in person. This is a very handy skill to have, especially when applying for a new job.
8. You’ll collaborate with a diverse team.
Customer support teams aren't always your typical tech-oriented group. Many are full of interesting individuals who have unique personalities and perspectives.
In fact, that was my favorite part about working on the HubSpot support team. You always learned something new about somebody whenever you worked with them on a case.
This is helpful for your growing your career as well. Being exposed to an array of different perspectives can help you find solutions to problems that you might not realize exist. It can also change your opinion on an issue after looking at it from an angle that you hadn't considered before. Situations like these where our perspective is challenged not only help us grow as professionals but as people, too.
9. You’ll learn to work remotely.
One growing trend in customer service is remote work. In fact, 40% of U.S. companies offered more remote work this year than they did five years ago. As customer service technology continues to enable reps to work from home, more customer service teams are taking advantage of this opportunity.
But, remote work isn't just a nice perk. It's a skill you'll need to develop, regardless of the career you pursue. As the cost of office space continues to rise and more positions go remote, you might soon find your role has become fully-remote as well. And, while this might not change what you do for a living, it will certainly change how you do it.
Getting exposure to remote work in a customer service role is great experience for any career. It challenges you to master your daily workflow without the immediate assistance of your surrounding colleagues. You learn how to independently troubleshoot problems and how to teach yourself solutions when no one is near to help.
10. You can build a network within your organization.
When you work in customer support, you might not always know the answer to a customer question. You might have to share customer feedback with important stakeholders. Or you might have insights to share that change how your company's leadership thinks about your ideal buyer persona.
To achieve any of the above, you'll have to pull knowledge from the people around you — your colleagues. If you can build a network of coworkers with different skillsets and expertise from you, not only will you be able to quickly and effectively get your job done, but you'll build a network of new opportunities for growth and professional development, too.
Whether you aspire to a long career in the customer support space, or you're simply eager to get your foot in the door at an innovative company, a job in customer support will teach you valuable skills that you'll need, again and again, over the course of your career
11. You can come from any background and with any level of experience.
Coming from an “artsy” school — where the only math class taught you to calculate audience statistics for Seinfeld — I was honestly surprised I was hired for a HubSpot customer support role. I didn't have a background in tech, nor did I have any real experience with providing phone support.
But as I went through my first weeks of training, I was delighted to find that I wasn't alone. Oddly enough, it seemed more of my colleagues had degrees in English and writing than computer sciences. We weren't a team of extroverted tech enthusiasts, rather a diverse group of professionals who all brought different skills and perspectives to the table. (By the way, if you're interested in working on the HubSpot customer support team, we're hiring.)
I share my own story so that you can see how possible it is to get a customer support job regardless of what you studied in college. Other firms make it even easier to get a customer service job by omitting the 4-year-degree requirement, making this a highly accessible and rewarding career.
If you’re not sure whether you’re qualified for a customer support role, you can take a customer service certification course to get an edge over other candidates.
12. You’ll directly impact the bottom line at your company.
When it comes to a company’s financial performance, it’s all too easy to overemphasize the role of sales and marketing in the firm’s success. But I would argue that customer service is truly the differentiating factor between a company that fails and one that succeeds.
The service experience makes the difference between a one-time customer and a loyal customer that keeps returning to the brand. Knowing that you’ll have such a big, real-world impact is one of the greatest perks of working in customer support. You’re not crunching numbers or looking at spreadsheets all day. Something as simple as a single positive phone call with a customer can end up turning into an upsell deal later.
That’s not to say it won’t be hard. Keeping a positive attitude while working in customer service is specially difficult when customers are being harsh and even illogical. But a bad customer is a customer you won’t want to keep. A good customer, however, can turn into a brand advocate after an excellent customer service experience — bringing in more referral business than a marketing campaign would.
Now that you’re convinced why you should pursue a customer service job, let’s take a look at the customer service careers that are available to you.
Types of Customer Service Jobs
There are a wide variety of customer service roles you can apply for when starting a customer service career. Most entry-level applicants start as representatives or specialists, then move up into more managerial and strategic roles. In other words, if you’re afraid of working in a call center forever, don’t fret — there’s more to customer service than answering the phone.
Customer Support Representative or Specialist
A customer service representative works one-on-one with customers who’ve run into a one-time issue with the product or service. Customer support reps are typically the first ones to pick up the phone or answer an email.
If the issue persists, the case may be escalated to a support specialist. Customer service specialists address one problem area within the product or service and typically provide prolonged support to a customer.
Customer Support Manager
Customer service managers can work in one of two ways. They can:
- Oversee a team of customer support reps.
- Provide highly specialized and continuing support with high-value customers.
Some customer support managers do a mixture of both. They can also report on their team’s performance metrics to higher-up employees, such as the director of customer experience. There are also variations of this role: you can be a customer success manager or service operation manager.
Director of Customer Experience or Success
The director of customer experience is responsible for all things relating to the customer’s journey before and after they make a purchase. They often establish a “customer-focused vision” at all levels, so that everything from sales procedures to website copy is centered around helping the customer, not just getting their business. That way, customers have a positive and rewarding experience with the company.
Chief Customer Officer
The chief customer officer (CCO) is a high-level executive responsible for making overarching strategic decisions as they pertain to the customer experience. They also make these decisions with the company’s financial goals in mind. Some companies might not hire a CCO but a vice president of customer experience instead. Others might hire both. In that case, the CCO would oversee the vice president’s duties.
A Customer Support Job is the Start of a Highly Rewarding Career
Most people look at customer service as an entry-level role. While there are many frontline jobs available in customer support, there are also plenty of opportunities for people who have more experience. Whether you're just getting out of college or taking a new direction in your career, customer service teams offer a variety of unique positions and benefits that will help you grow in your professional and personal life.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.