Whenever I ask people what their very first job was, I sometimes get a variety of answers, but the majority of them all focus on customer service. Working at a fast food chain/restaurant, clothing store or any form of retail is usually the go to for someone’s first journey into the world of business and working.
Sadly, this has created the notion that customer service jobs are nothing more than that, a starter job, something you never ever want to be doing as a full time career and just a way to pay the bills until you get a real job. I myself had that ideology, and I regret ever thinking that, because I met some amazing people and had great teaching moments and experiences in a variety of customer service positions. But there is more danger than we realize to this ideology of customer service.
Because these positions are seen as quickly filled, quickly replaced, there is almost little or no thought given into employee retention or business acumen training. Let’s get one thing straight, customer service, although not for everyone, is filled with great opportunities. If you want to make a career out of it, go for it. You’ll meet new people every day, or get to know the regulars like neighbors, and the interactions will always be varied. Major corporations need to start treating their customer service positions with just as much value as they treat management or higher up positions.
A revolving door of new hires and exiting hires is no way to make a profit. Just think of the millions wasted by having to hire and train new employees on a monthly or weekly basis. I had several managers who became good friends, and it was heartbreaking to see them trying to somehow cut costs and find people willing to stay on for longer than a summer. But to solve that issue, we need to look at why customer service employees leave in the first place.
I’ve touched base on this before, but in the majority (not all) of customer service roles I’ve partaken in, the training involved watching boring videos, signing a sheet of paper, and being thrown into the environment to smile and make sales. I could not tell you one thing of any of those training videos other than this: the best way to prevent shrinkage is to greet and acknowledge every person that you see. That’s it. After spending years working with different companies, I can’t tell you their mission statement, their values/strategy, their financial plans or goals for the fiscal year. Why? Because they don’t care enough to teach people in those roles.
Customer service roles are no different from the development necessities of any other role. Everyone needs business acumen training. A thorough understanding of how their business makes money, where they specifically fit in the organization, and the ability to distinguish the positive and negative impacts of all business decisions is essential for everyone: cashiers, servers, cooks, administrative assistants, every single one.
A business thrives when its people thrive. Make the effort to invest in the employees. Make them LOVE their customer service role and grow the field with individuals who will remain and grow rather than leave after a few weeks of minimum wage. It’s not about the pay, it’s about the feeling of being wanted and knowing the organization has a specific, valuable role for you.
Ring up the good service by checking out business acumen training today.
To learn about why Customer Service reps need business acumen, check out this next blog.