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How we found careers in the customer service industry

While Ariel Levin, Massella Dukuly and Tricia Rosetty all serve the customer experience in one way or another, each followed a very different path.

Ariel Levin is in the business of people. Her day-to-day revolves around making sure she’s meeting customers’ needs while giving them a platform to address concerns—and she loves her job.

“It’s the chance to be a voice for these people, and I particularly love figuring out how to implement changes to make sure our customers' voices are heard,” says Levin.

Levin, 24, a customer service specialist at mattress retailer Casper in New York, is one of more than 2 million employees in the customer service industry.

Photo of Ariel Levin

Ariel Levin, 24, used her transferable skills to break into the customer service industry. Photo credit: Casper

In need of employees who can cater to customers in multichannel platforms—in-store, phone, social media, mobile—customer service jobs are expected to grow 13% by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Customer service representatives make an average salary of $35,000, according to PayScale, and employees in management roles can make $51,000 annually.

If you’re looking to build a career in customer service, you might start by answering phones and emails but there’s plenty of potential for growth. We spoke with three employees to see what a career in customer service is really like.

How they got into the field

Looking for a more hands-on role, Levin used her organization and problem-solving skills, which she acquired from working in NBCUniversal’s Page Program, a 12-month rotational development experience, and a public relations agency, to get her the job at Casper where she’s worked for almost two years.

Levin is proof that transferable skills can help you get a customer service gig, and she’s not the only one.

Massella Dukuly, 25, is a customer operations lead at Squarespace in New York. Ironically enough, she “definitely never intended to work in a customer-facing role,” she says. Dukuly, who is going on four years in the customer service industry actually wanted to be a psychologist, “but I knew what my strengths were and I've always been a people person.”

She originally planned to attend graduate school but decided to get a year of work experience under her belt with a fun job that would give her work-life balance. Dukuly’s first job was at Warby Parker in New York, where she worked as a customer experience associate and quickly earned a promotion to a customer service team lead.

Photo of Tricia Rosetty

Tricia Rosetty, 27, showcased her creativity and research on the company in her job application, which got her noticed and eventualy hired. Photo credit: Eventbrite

Dukuly says it was her people management skills and hard-working attitude that landed her the job at Squarespace.

Tricia Rosetty, 27, wanted to take a step away from her background in marketing and saw support as the perfect way to work directly with customers. Rosetty decided to showcase her creativity skills to get her application noticed. Using the code from the company’s help center, she turned it into an article about why they should hire her. They noticed and hired her as a help center specialist.

Rosetty has been working at Eventbrite in San Francisco as a content strategy lead for the past year, though she’s been with the company for two years.

What their typical days are like

As a customer service specialist, Levin’s day-to-day consists mostly of interacting with customers through social media channels, live chats, emails and phone calls.

“I’ll hop off every couple of hours to monitor site reviews, sit in on meetings, and send customers gifts and notes,” says Levin. “Regardless of the number of interactions I have in a day, I always focus on making each conversation the best it can be.”

In her management role, Dukuly often spends her time in meetings with her team or other managers. She typically works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and manages a team of nine.

“I'm specifically working on ways to make our team as efficient and productive as possible,” says Dukuly. “There's a lot of analysis and agile work, but change is the norm in fast pace environments like this.”

Rosetty has a more strategic role and leads a team of content creators who focus on improving Eventbrite’s self-service customer experience. Her team creates all kinds of support content, including help center articles, instructional videos, support emails, internal documentation, and training materials.

“My days are rarely the same, but typically include some combination of working with my direct team, the frontline representatives, and cross-functional collaboration,” says Rosetty.

What skills they say are important

Between Levin, Dukuly and Rosetty, they agree the most important skill needed to work in customer service is having a sense of empathy.

Photo of Massella Dukuly

Massella Dukuly, 25, says it's important to think strategically about how you'll get to where you want to be if you want to move up the customer service ladder. Photo credit: John Branch IV

“Empathy is table stakes in this industry, but having the finesse to have truly authentic conversations that reflect real empathy and customer advocacy is an art,” says Rosetty.

Beyond empathy, Rosetty says you need to have superb judgment to gauge how a customer feels through a phone call. In addition, she says skills in problem solving are useful when trying to determine the best resolution for an individual.

Dukuly agrees, adding that you need to be patient and adaptable. She also notes that, “making room for the unexpected and not being hard set on how things should go will allow you to perform better."

“To be able to put yourself in a customer’s shoes is crucial to understanding any inquiry or issue they might have,” says Levin, who also believes organization is a useful skill because you’ll deal with many different messages and calls to keep track of.

Their career advice

To get your first job in customer service, Levin suggests to start by researching the companies you admire, noting it’s a lot easier to talk about a product or brand that you truly believe in.

Rosetty says the key to success in customer service is getting really good at listening by focusing on helping someone else rather than yourself. “The best representatives are the best listeners,” she says.

For Dukuly, a management role is a high achievement in the world of customer service. To get there, she says you need to think strategically. “Within your current role, it's best to pursue initiatives and opportunities that will give you the skill set and experience to be a good candidate for opportunities ahead,” she says.

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