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A Great Time to Work in Customer Service

14 Dec 2018

Karen Bellew

A job in customer service can be a fantastic first step on any career path regardless of the sector and it’s certainly one area where there are a lot of opportunities in the region.

Northern Ireland is a hotbed of economic activity right now. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the region is currently enjoying a strengthening economic recovery particularly in production, manufacturing & materials, centres of excellence, services and IT. All very different sectors but the one thing they all have in common is the need for excellent standards of customer service. And that can only come from within!

There are so many customer service roles in the market at the moment in Northern Ireland (some short term, some long-term contract and some permanent). Providing good service is one of the most important things that can set one business apart from its competitors so having the right staff on board is essential. They provide information about the products and services, take the initial orders, respond to complaints (if any) and can be the only person-to-person contact that a consumer can have with that organisation so it’s vital that they have the correct mix of skills and attitude for dealing with the public. A job in customer service may not be at the top of anyone’s list for careers but it can be a fantastic first step on any career path regardless of the sector and it’s certainly one area where there are a lot of opportunities across the region, including Belfast, Derry/L'Derry, Tyrone and Portadown.

Skills needed in customer service

You don’t necessarily need a qualification for working in customer service other than a great phone manner, common sense and (usually) a knowledge of MS Office but the following skills are also helpful:

  • Patience
  • Clear communication
  • Knowledge of the product / service
  • Attentiveness
  • Diplomacy
  • Time management
  • Organisational skills

Flexible career

Many customer service roles are initially offered on a short-term basis but we at Brightwater NI are finding that these roles are quickly being made permanent. However it does give both the employer and the job seeker an “out” if needed. On the employer’s side, some of these roles are seasonal particularly for those in retail / warehousing / exports and they would need to ramp up or down on staff depending on their requirements. Smaller companies would also need temporary staff to fill in for maternity leave or for emergency cover.

From the job seeker’s perspective, it’s a flexible way of working and it’s an ideal way to “test the water” to see if they like the role. It also may suit those who are looking for ad-hoc work that suits their schedule, eg.school holidays or a temporary stop-gap before they go travelling. The rate of pay ranges from minimum wage of £7.83 right up to £12.13 per hour for Customer Service on a temporary basis and a permanent Customer Service professional can earn anything from £15,000 up to £36,000+ depending on their level of experience and seniority. Those with languages can earn more depending on their level of fluency and the requirement for that particular language.

If you’re interested in either starting your career in customer service or moving roles, Karen Bellew, Consultant with Brightwater’s Business Support division in our Belfast office