How to Get Out of Customer Service

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how to get out of customer serviceCustomer service can be a challenging job. You’re dealing with people all day who can be demanding and, often times, down right nasty when they don’t get what they want.

And, at a certain point, many people decide that they’ve had enough and want to pivot to another career. But, it can be challenging to know what to do next.

To that end, this article is going to share best practices for how to get out of customer service and into a career path that you find more fulfilling and meaningful.

Why People Get Out of Customer Service

To start, let’s review the most common reasons why people typically want to get out of customer service.

1. Perception That It’s a Dead End Job

Rightly or wrongly, there is often a perception that customer service is a dead-end job. In my view, whether or not customer service is a dead end job is highly dependent upon the context.

If you work in customer service in the tech world, for example, there can be lots of opportunities to grow within the organization and build a team that has a big impact on the company’s success. However, if you work retail, in a large call center, or some other context, with limited growth opportunities, it can certainly feel like there’s not a future there.

And if you’re in the wrong context, and have big aspirations for career growth, it likely makes sense to get out of customer service.

2. Tired of Dealing With Customers

Ultimately, dealing with customers can be hard. You have rude folks that are frustrated with policies that your company created and they take it out on you. For many people, they simply get burned out of dealing with rude customers.

3. Feel That Customer Service is the Worst

The last reason is sort of an all encompassing one but you’ll commonly see the sentiment expressed that “customer service is the worst.” To me, I think that summarizes the general feeling of frustration that comes with working in the space.

Dealing with customers is challenging, having your hands tied by frustrating company policies can be agonizing, and you generally don’t have much control over your time or schedule. All of that can lead to the feeling that customer service is the worst and that you need to get out.

Customer Service Transferrable Skills

Now that we’ve covered the common reasons that people want to get out of customer service, let’s talk about some of the positives of customers service and that’s the transferrable skills that it provides for you.

There are a variety of skills that, consciously or not, you’ll develop while working in customer service that could carry over to other types of jobs.

Here is a short list of transferrable skills commonly developed in customer service roles:

Deep Customer Understanding

I don’t see the value of understanding the customer discussed enough when it comes to customer service jobs. Particularly if you’re planning to stay in the same type of industry as your current customer service job, the customer understanding that you develop from working in customer service is absolutely invaluable and can set you apart for many different types of jobs.

Emotional Intelligence 

Customer service jobs force you to develop emotional intelligence by dealing with difficult people and difficult situations. The best customer service representatives are able to patiently communicate with customers, make them feel understood, and work with them to solve the problem.

Communication

Similar to emotional intelligence, customer service jobs help you to develop great communication skills. Depending upon the type of customer service job that you have, you could be communicating with people all day via phone, email, or in person, which will certainly build your skills in that area.

Sales

Many customer service representatives are partially paid based upon the sales that they make. With that being the case, many customer service employees develop strong sales capabilities from their frequent customer communication and dialogue.

Problem-solving

From working in customer service, you’ll often be faced with challenging situations without a good solution. You’ll have a frustrated customer that in many cases has a reasonable request, but you’ll be dealing with an antiquated company policy or system that won’t let you solve it in the way that you would like.

Ultimately, that forces you to develop creative ways of solving problems to serve the customer, which are valuable in other contexts.

The Ability to Operate in a Fast-paced Environment

Lastly, working in customer service helps you to develop multitasking skills and the ability to work in a high stress, fast-paced type of environment. Most fields will value someone that can handle a challenging work environment.

How to Get Out of Customer Service

Now that you have some background for some of the skills that you’ve likely developed from working in customer service, we’ll turn to a practical look at the steps that you can take to get out of customer service and get a job offer that you’re excited about in a different career path.

Figure Out What You Want

The first step to getting out of customer service is figuring out what you want to do next. From there, you can take intentional steps in pursuit of that path.

At a high level, I’ve found the following steps to be helpful in figuring out what you want to do with your life:

If you find that you’re stuck with figuring out how to make your work path more tangible, it may be helpful to pursue some intentional career experimentation, along with a dedicated journaling process for reflection on how different career paths feel to you.

Map Your Qualifications

Once you have a sense of the life that you want to build for yourself, and some possible work paths that will enable you to get there, the next step would be to list out your qualifications for that type of work. A good starting point would be to look at the customer service transferrable skills list that we reviewed earlier, as well as take an inventory of all of the things that you’re good at.

Tailor Your Resume

Once you have a sense of the skills that you have that make you a good candidate for the type of work that you want to pursue, the next step from there would be to tailor your resume specifically for the work that you would like to obtain.

Tailoring a resume for a career change is beyond the scope of this article, but the website Zetsy has a great resource for helping you to do so.

Close The Gaps in Your Skill Set

Once you’ve tailored your resume, you’re ready to go out and start applying for positions. However, there are likely to be gaps in your skill set that could make it challenging for you to obtain the job that you want. 

As you’re out applying and interviewing for the positions that you want, you should be proactively working to close those gaps in your skillset. Great ways to do that include starting a side hustle in the field that you want to enter, volunteering, or doing some temporary freelancing.

Start With Your Current Company

The last recommendation that I would offer for how to get out of customer service is to start with you current company. If you’ve performed well in your role, they will likely want to retain you, even if it’s not in a customer service role. So what you can do is have a conversation with your boss about your intentions, ask for intros, and start networking and applying for roles within the organization to try and move to a role that is more aligned with your interests.

You’ll likely find that it’s easier to pivot to a different role within the company (assuming that you’ve been performing well) than to pivot to a new career at an entirely different company.

Common Jobs to For Customer Service Professionals To Transition Into

To help make this post as practical as possible, I thought it would be helpful to cover common jobs for customer service professionals to transition into, based upon their transferrable skills.

Now, none of the jobs below may be in line with where you’d like to go and, if so, it’s perfectly fine to disregard this section. However, in case it’s helpful, here are a few common jobs for customer service professionals to transition into:

Sales

Customer service representatives transitioning into sales is a pretty logically move. Generally, as a customer service representative, you develop a lot of experience working with and communicating with people. Additionally, depending upon the area of customer service in which you work, you may have a commission as a part of your compensation or be incentivized to do sales as a part of your role anyway.

A move from customer service to sales is probably the easiest transition simply from a transferability of skills perspective.

Marketing

Moving from customer service to marketing isn’t talked about quite enough in my opinion. The reason that I think a customer service to marketing transition could be a logical one is, if you’re transitioning within the same company or industry, you will have a wealth of knowledge about your customer from communicating with them so often. 

I personally work in marketing and I think that the single most important skill that you can have is a deep understanding of the customer. It makes absolutely everything about the job easier. 

So, if you have some creativity and the ability to write well, a move from customer service to marketing could be for you.

Product

The last job for customer service professionals to transition into is product. This is particularly true in the tech field, but could be true in other fields as well. The reason this makes sense is that customer service representatives are generally communicating with customers about the product(s) that you company sells itself. With that being the case, you develop a great perspective on what customers want out of your product and could bring a lot to the table in helping your company to evolve its product offerings.

Conclusion

Customer service can be a difficult job. And it can also feel like a challenge to get out of customer service. But you develop a lot of valuable and transferable skills in the role. And with some focus and intentionally, can apply those to a career path that you will find more meaningful and fulfilling.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan serves as a career counselor on the side. He writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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