Caring for your customers is the most important thing your business does, no matter what industry you’re in. Your customer service team takes care of this vital function, but they can’t work to the fullest of their abilities unless they have great leadership.
That’s why it’s critical to nurture your customer service managers: to bring the best people into your organization in this role, train them fully, and work hard to retain them.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about customer service managers — let’s get started!
What is a Customer Service Manager?
The customer service manager (CSM) role is responsible for overseeing and guiding the customer service and customer support functions of a business. They manage the customer service agents who deal with customer issues, give team members the framework to create excellent customer experiences, and guide the way the company handles customer service operations.
Your individual customer support and success agents play an important role in building customer loyalty and resolving complaints. But it’s your customer service managers who bring it all together with a focus on strategy, long-term planning, and customer retention.
And since McKinsey research has found that improving the customer experience increases sales revenue by 2-7%, and profitability by 1-2%, investing in your CSMs has a strong ROI too.
Hiring the Top Customer Service Managers
Your customer service managers are vital to your success, but finding the right ones to hire can be challenging. How can you get started?
Begin by writing a great customer service manager job description to attract the best candidates, and weed out ones who aren’t right for the role. Customer service manager responsibilities should be clear in your job description, like managing workflow for customer service reps, making customer interactions run smoothly, and keeping the team on top of new tools like chatbots and new product features so they can support customers.
But also, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when searching for the right fit. Traditional qualifications like certifications and work experience can be useful, but you might be overlooking candidates who could grow into exceptional leaders. By considering soft skills alongside hard skills and years of experience, you can gain a fuller picture of how a candidate might perform with the training and support they need to grow.
Examples of soft skills you should certainly consider include:
Thinking beyond traditional markers like years of experience and a bachelor’s degree can open up opportunities for candidates who have the most critical soft skills — and you can train them on the hard skills, customer service software, and processes they need to know on the job.
Training Your Customer Service Managers
Training is a must for every customer service manager, even ones with plenty of work experience, because things change in the role all the time. You should be nurturing your managers by providing them with comprehensive onboarding as new hires to ensure they know your company’s values, priorities, products, and customers well before they begin.
A successful customer service manager also needs access to ongoing trainings on your products because they probably have changes or updates quite regularly. Since your managers are expected to lead the effort to keep their teams updated on anything new they will need to assist customers with, they should have early access to upcoming changes and updates on your product roadmap.
And finally, your customer service managers must know what’s expected of them, and have access to the metrics they need to measure their success as well as the team’s performance. Ensure they can track KPIs like response times and escalations easily, as well as anything else they need to measure customer satisfaction. This enables them to be set up for success in their role from the very beginning.
Retaining Customer Service Managers
Once your customer service managers are hired and trained, you still need to work to keep them around! The demand for the best managers is high, so focusing on retention will allow you to hold onto these critical leaders so your customer support team can thrive.
It’s easy to let customer service managers stay in the CS silo, where they focus only on managing their teams and dealing with customers. But that can be frustrating for managers long term, and also deprives your organization of a valuable leadership perspective.
Break down those siloes and ensure your CSMs have access to their peers across the organization and other leaders as well. They can provide a customer-focused perspective on what’s happening in the business right now, which is invaluable for the rest of the company to hear. Plus, that kind of networking and access expands the CSM’s role and gives them incentive to stay and develop with your company.
You can even ask them to tackle related projects that help not only your customer service department but other teams as well, like writing FAQs based on the most common questions your service reps get and putting them on your website to answer customer inquiries without needing to contact support.
That’s a win for your customer service representatives — fewer customer calls about basic issues means they can spend more time solving complex problems. But it’s also a win for customers, who don’t need to hang on the phone to get an answer to a simple question.
Meeting customer needs like this is the job of your customer service managers, not simply managing customer complaints, so be sure to give them the flexibility and autonomy they need to truly enable an excellent customer experience.
And of course, just like any other employee, they also should be regularly recognized and rewarded for their significant contributions to your company’s success. Giving them performance-based bonuses and awards can be quite motivating, but also don’t forget about the power of non-monetary recognition like thank you notes from leadership and shoutouts in team meetings.
Why Your Customer Service Managers Matter
Customer service managers are the link between the reps who talk to your customers every day as the face of your company and your other managers and leaders who set the strategy and vision for your organization. That’s why they’re such a vital part of your success — and why you need to commit to nurturing them and helping them grow their careers with your company.
Whether they’re leading a customer service week celebration or figuring out the best way to decrease the time it takes to resolve the most common customer issues, your company can’t function without your CSMs. So take care of them like they take care of your customers, and your company will flourish.