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It takes significant resources for a company to gain a new customer. To keep that customer is less resource-intensive -- but no less important. A customer retention specialist’s primary role is to keep customers happy, so they will continue using the company's services or products.
Answer Questions and Talk
Customer retention specialists typically work in a call center or through a phone network. A high school diploma or two-year associate’s degree usually is sufficient to start in the industry. You need to be an effective listener so that you can understand customers' needs and find solutions for them. You may be on a customer service line answering product and billing questions or on a complaint line that takes the brunt of customer comments. Your ultimate goal is to keep the customer happy.
Make Additional Sales
Most employers look for a sales-oriented personality when recruiting customer retention specialists. Clients who are pleased with the service you provide may be receptive to additional sales efforts. As an effective customer service representative for the company, you have the opportunity to make additional sales while you have the customer on the line. You also are in a good position to ask for referrals after you’ve solved a customer’s problem or provided valuable help.
While many retention specialists work on the receiving end of phone calls, many also serve in a proactive role. These professionals make followup calls to customers to see how they like a product and whether it is working properly. Businesses that routinely employ the followup technique have a higher retention rate than those companies that land clients and forget about them, according to the Database Marketing Institute.
An effective retention specialist knows where to send customers who need additional help. In addition to working on a phone system, you will be expected to work with computers to look up customer accounts and retrieve information from manuals and company documents. You’ll also be expected to document your calls and the subsequent outcome of each call. Training usually is done on the job. At the same time, you’ll be provided with a list of company officials and product experts who can answer more difficult questions or meet more intensive demands. While customers don’t like to be transferred, they will be happy when they are transferred to a person who has the answers they need.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
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