What Is a Retention Specialist? (And Why They Matter)

Sarah Chambers


Businesses invest significant time developing ways to attract new customers. New products, special offers, advertising campaigns, and content creation all aim to entice visitors and generate leads.

customer retention specialist

However, given that 33% of customers will leave a brand after a single bad customer service experience, retaining existing customers is just as important - if not more important - as adding new ones.

A customer retention specialist can help you to reduce churn and maximize revenue by retaining your current customers and getting the most out of your existing customer base. This article will explain what a retention specialist is and what they do, why your business needs a retention department, the average retention specialist salary, and how to find a job as a retention specialist.

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Customer retention is an increasing priority for many businesses because it's becoming more and more expensive to acquire new customers. Given the level of competition and the effort required to convert a lead into a sale, companies need to find ways to work smarter and not harder to generate consistent revenue.


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By maximizing the value you get out of your existing customers, a customer retention specialist saves you the trouble of relying on a constant stream of new business to keep your company in the black. Case in point, a 5% increase in customer retention can net a 25% to 95% increase in profitability.

At its core, the work of a customer retention specialist revolves around creating a positive customer experience environment and resolving customer complaints as they arise. Also known as customer success management, retention efforts focus on building relationships between brands and customers by leveraging engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction.

To understand what this looks like in practice, let’s examine what a retention specialist does daily.

Retention Specialist Job Duties

Depending on the industry, retention specialist job duties can look very different. In general, the responsibilities of a customer retention specialist include:

  • Communicating with customers and support staff
  • Collecting data about customer service trends
  • Recording and responding to customer complaints
  • Developing strategies to retain customers
  • Measuring key performance metrics related to churn and retention efforts

For example, a customer retention specialist at a college or university works to keep students in college. Typical job duties include organizing events for students, advising students about engagement opportunities, and helping students to develop good habits. In addition, retention specialists will work with teachers, counselors, and other resources to encourage students to stay in school and increase graduation rates.

Regardless of the industry, customer retention specialists leverage various strategies to provide a better customer experience, increase brand loyalty, and drive sales. Tracking customer data, setting up communication calendars, automating responses to inquiries, and managing loyalty and education programs are just a few customer retention strategies businesses use to delight and engage their customers.

Customer retention specialists are essential for any service department because they manage how customers view your brand. They are the ones who ask customers for feedback, manage expectations, and cultivate relationships through the give and take of sales, products, and services.

Retention Specialist Salary

The average retention specialist salary can vary wildly based on the industry, level of education, and amount of experience.

The average pay per hour for a retention specialist in the United States is around $15.28 per hour. However, you can easily find jobs paying up to $25 per hour for an entry-level retention specialist.

In addition, many retention specialists also work in jobs that offer commissions for hitting retention goals. Commission payments vary depending on the industry and range anywhere from $0 to $5,000 per year.

By far, the most crucial factor for determining a retention specialist’s salary is the number of years they have in the industry. The more experience you have, the more leverage you have in salary negotiations.

That said, it’s also important to possess the necessary skills to excel in the position. For example, retention specialists need excellent communication, problem-solving, and people management skills to excel in the job.

In addition, outside influences also factor into the equation that determines a retention specialist’s salary. If the labor market is tight or there are a lot of open jobs and not enough workers to fill them, this places upward pressure on wages, which can lead to salary increases across industries. Furthermore, cost-of-living is also a consideration, as jobs in metro areas with a high cost of living will generally pay a higher salary than jobs in less desirable markets.

Before you apply for a retention specialist job, make sure you have the qualifications required for the position and go in with a number in mind for what you’d like to be paid for your work. If you’re a business looking to hire a retention specialist, take the time to analyze average pay across and within your industry to make sure you offer a competitive salary and benefits package to attract skilled applicants without overpaying and decreasing your ROI.

Retention Specialist Jobs

According to estimates, investment in B2C customer and loyalty marketing will increase by 30% in 2021. With more businesses set to invest in customer retention, there will be a corresponding influx in the number of open positions for customer retention specialists. However, to qualify and be successful in this role, you’ll need the required skills, education, and experience.

First and foremost, a retention specialist is a member of a company’s customer service team. That means you’ll need to have excellent customer service skills if you hope to work as a retention specialist. Communication, patience, and problem-solving are just a few of the capabilities you’ll need to have to be successful as a customer retention specialist.

As for education, many customer retention specialist positions do not require a college degree. Of the roughly 38,372 customer retention specialists currently working in the US, the education level of the specialists breaks down as follows:

  • High School Diploma: 24%
  • Bachelor’s: 40%
  • Associate: 20%
  • Masters: 6%
  • Other Degrees: 10%

While most customer retention specialists have some post-secondary education, it’s not a prerequisite for many positions. That said, if you do not have a high school diploma or GED, you may find it difficult to qualify for the role.

As for the experience required, a customer retention specialist is usually an entry-level position. However, applicants may be asked to have several years of customer service or sales experience, depending on the company.

Why Your Business Needs a Retention Department

It's not enough to make a great product or service anymore. Customers want to feel valued and choose a great experience over a great product.

The longer you can keep a customer with your company, the more likely they are to make an additional purchase, which increases their lifetime value.repeat customer stats

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Remember, a high churn rate can spell death for any business, particularly startups and small businesses. If you don’t already have a customer retention department, you need to consider adjusting your marketing and customer support budget to accommodate this expense.

81% of customers say trust is an essential factor determining whether they will buy a product or service. To build trust with your customers, you need to maintain open and effective communications channels, respond to complaints quickly and appropriately, be receptive to feedback, and demonstrate that you care about the customer experience.

Creating a customer retention department of retention specialists is a significant first step to showing your customers that you care about them enough to keep them around. But, even after that first initial sale, engaging a customer with a free newsletter, education program, or loyalty rewards could be enough to turn that one transaction into a lifelong relationship.

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