A customer retention specialist – sometimes called a customer retention agent or a customer loyalty specialist – is a customer service representative whose purpose it is to keep customers doing business with the company. This role involves addressing customer complaints and negotiating with them when they want to cancel. Becoming a customer retention specialist usually doesn’t involve a college education since employers typically offer custom on-the-job training programs. However, this career usually requires some customer service and sales experience, and employers often look for call center experience as well.
When a customer wants to get rid of a company’s service or otherwise has a complaint, a customer retention specialist will provide support online, over the phone or in person. This includes promoting the benefits of the service, getting feedback, addressing customers’ problems and offering alternatives to canceling the service. For example, a customer retention specialist may offer a discount or a month of free service to a customer who wants to cancel due to the service’s cost.
A customer retention specialist may also contact customers directly near the time when their subscription or membership is set to expire and provide information on renewal options that may better fit their needs. A customer loyalty specialist job description can also include creating and maintaining documentation about customers’ issues so that the company can make improvements that increase retention.
Starting a career as a retention specialist usually involves no formal education beyond high school. Instead, employers look for individuals with customer service, sales and negotiation skills, and they -will provide on-the-job training that may last up to a month. This training usually not only addresses techniques for serving and retaining customers, but also educates new employees about the company’s goods or services, so they can provide reliable support.
Customer retention specialists working in banking and insurance may need to obtain licenses to sell these products. Also, companies may prefer to hire bilingual individuals who can also serve Spanish-speaking customers.
Customer retention specialists often work for call centers that serve businesses such as internet service providers, phone carriers, television service providers and insurance firms. They may also work directly inside businesses as part of a larger customer service team or even work from home as remote retention agents. The job can require working around a lot of noise, especially in call centers, and retention specialists can face pressure when working with customers. Work shifts can widely vary as customers may call any time during the day or night, so flexibility is a must.
Years of Experience and Salary
As of August 2019, PayScale reports that the median customer retention specialist salary is $42,318, with half making more and half making less. The lowest paid 10 percent of customer retention specialists make under $31,000, compared to the top 10 percent who make more than $61,000.
Some possible career progressions that can lead to higher wages include becoming a senior retention specialist, customer service manager or call center manager. PayScale also shows steady average salary increases based on years of experience as a retention specialist:
- Under one year: $36,587
- One to four years: $40,564
- Five to nine years: $46,813
- 10 to 19 years: $48,699
- 20 or more years: $56,460
Job Growth Trend
The job outlook for customer retention specialists and other customer service representatives looks good due to the growth of telephone call centers, increased demand for products and services, and high turnover in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth of 5 percent in the field between 2016 and 2026, which is close to the average growth rate for all occupations. It expects call centers to offer the most customer retention specialist positions. Having phone and sales experience, along with knowledge of the products or services supported, can give you an advantage during your job hunt.