Whether you know exactly what you want to be when you grow up or you have no idea, job opportunities where you want to live can be competitive—and scarce. But you might find opportunities to work in customer support—where job opportunities are actually growing in the US.
You might have preconceived notions about customer support from your own interactions as a customer that make you think the role isn’t for you. But I’m here to tell you that it can be a fantastic first step on the path toward a successful career—in almost any business function you might be interested in.
1. You’ll Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
It’s a given that you’ll develop people skills while working in a customer-facing role. And although there can be challenges to working on the phone all day, the skills and strategies you’ll develop far outweigh those challenges.
You’ll be helping customers solve a variety of different problems, which could have a huge impact on their personal or professional life, and your ability to empathize and build rapport with these people will be critical. In the face of difficult customers or combative language, you’ll need to tap into your sense of self-regulation to calmly and effectively de-escalate customers so you can better assist them. And on those tough days when you don’t feel like you can make another phone call (we all have them), you’ll tap into your sense of motivation and self-awareness to keep yourself on-track and positive so you can buckle down and get everything done.
Studies have shown that these people skills are linked more closely with success in the workplace than cognitive intelligence—especially when it comes to management. Starting your career in customer support sets you on the right track for building and growing these skills over the course of the rest of your working life. (Plus, they’re helpful for effective interpersonal relationship communication and collaboration, too.)
2. You’ll Understand a Product Inside and Out
In order to be successful in customer support, you need to understand (almost) every aspect of your product or service so you can quickly answer questions and resolve issues for your customers.
Learning about your product or service helps you become a subject matter expert—which can open a ton of different doors for you as you grow in your career (in or outside of customer support).
For example, by practicing teaching your customers how to use your product or service, you’ll be able to specialize in training and onboarding new members of your team and take on a leadership role that way. If you prefer writing, you might be able to write blog posts to supplement one-off customer support interactions. Or, you could use your creative side to create product walkthrough videos to help your customers and build your online presence.
Any avenue you decide to take it, an in-depth product or service knowledge will help you become an expert—on your team, within your organization, and in your industry.
3. You’ll Build Transferable Skills
Building your subject matter expertise will help you grow within your customer support team—but you’ll also learn valuable skills that you can use to snag a new role if you want to branch out even further.
Working with customers will teach you exactly how customers can use your company’s product or service to achieve their goals—and you can use this knowledge and experience if you decided to move into sales.
If you can tell prospects on the phone exactly how your product or service has helped other customers, they might be more interested in closing a deal with you.
Product knowledge is incredibly valuable for marketing, too. Whether you want to write for the blog, conduct product and market research, or manage social media support channels, in-depth product expertise and killer communication skills could help you land a role on a marketing team.
If you know the product inside and out, you might be able to build it, too. If you develop some chops for product development—whether that consists of software engineering, outreach, or vendor management—you might be able to use your wealth of knowledge to transition away from the phones and help build the product you’re servicing.
4. You’ll Have a Network Within Your Organization
When you work in customer support, you might not always know the answer to a customer question. You might have to share feedback with important stakeholders, or you might have insights to share that change how your company’s leadership thinks about your ideal buyer persona.
To achieve any of the above, you’ll have to pull knowledge from the people around you. If you can build a network of co-workers with different skill sets and expertise from you, not only will you be able to quickly and effectively get your job done, but you’ll build a network of new opportunities for growth and professional development, too.
5. You’ll Learn How to Effectively Solve Problems
At the heart of it, customer support is about reactively helping your customers and solving their problems. And whether it’s a quick fix or a multi-step process, every customer problem on your plate will require creative thinking, people skills, and expertise to solve.
The ability to solve problems quickly, effectively, and diplomatically is critical for any job there is—whether it’s in customer support or not. It’s the building block of being able to prioritize, project manage, and resolve conflicts, and these skills are required if you want to earn promotions, manage a team, and use your influence and expertise to achieve your goals.
Whether you aspire to a long career in the customer support space, or you’re simply eager to get your foot in the door at an innovative company, a job in customer support will teach you valuable skills that you’ll need again and again over the course of your career.
This article was originally published on Hubspot. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of customer service specialist courtesy of Luis Alvarez/Getty Images.