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

Sarah Chambers


Third time's the charm—that's what the customer experience study done by Emplifi says about the number of chances companies have to mess up before 80% of those customers walk away for good.

customer retention specialist working on his laptop

Small business owners and corporate CEOs alike know this all too well, which is one reason why the customer retention specialist is a stable, well-paying role that candidates on the job market have been seeking for years.

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A customer retention specialist has the specific responsibility to reduce customer churn and mitigate lost revenue by retaining existing customers. This article will explain more about what a retention specialist is, what they do, the average retention specialist salary, and how to find a job as a retention specialist. Jump to each section using the links below for easier navigation.

Retention Specialist: animated character with the qualities of a customer retention specialist around his head

Customer retention is a priority for B2B and B2C businesses because it's becoming more expensive to acquire new customers. 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 Description

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

Regardless of the industry, customer retention specialists leverage different tactics 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 tactics businesses use to delight and engage their customers.

How to Become a Retention Specialist

A customer retention specialist is an entry-level role with the opportunity to be promoted to a senior level specialist. To qualify for this role, you'll want to meet the following requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Understand the 12 negotiation techniques
  • Willingness to work with a team and independently
  • Experience in customer service or sales

So, how much is this skill set worth in the market? Let's look at the customer retention specialist's salary.

Retention Specialist Salary

The annual salary for a retention specialist in the United States is $37,175, on average, according to Zippia. This equates to about $17.87 per hour. The higher end of the salary range for a retention specialist is about $48,000 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.

Retention Specialist Jobs

There are currently 38,472 customer retention specialists working in the US, and about 28,188 openings for these roles.

Get Prepared to Become a Retention Specialist

As a customer retention specialist applicant, keep a few things in mind as you transition into the role:

  • maintain open and effective communications channels
  • respond to complaints quickly and appropriately
  • be receptive to feedback
  • demonstrate that you care about the customer experience.

This position holds significant importance to the business you choose to work for because you'll represent the company at its most critical and vulnerable state—when customers want to leave. It will be your duty to show customers that you and the business care about them enough to keep them around.

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