A work-from-home customer service manager of six years shares how speaking three languages has opened up doors for professional growth.
What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
I’ve been working as a customer service manager for six years.
Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
I think the title customer service manager is pretty self-explanatory, but my everyday tasks are answering people’s questions, usually from clients but co-workers may also have questions that need to be answered. I also help the sales team set up certain services, and I gather information and forward it to upper management so that we can improve our services.
What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
I’m Hispanic and I believe it has been an asset. In my field of work, I come across people from Latin America as well as from the USA, and I’ve been able to help them using my skills and my knowledge of the culture.
If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
No, I’ve always been blessed with great bosses and co-workers who believe diversity is an advantage.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I think people are not prepared for how hard the field of customer service can be until they have tried it. If you want to do a good job, you will need to be patient, have good communications skills, and know that your customers are varied and will come up with some very difficult questions.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
My job has taught me something that I think I would never have learned otherwise: to understand that even though people come from all kinds of backgrounds, they are all basically the same and if treated with respect, they will respond the same way. Sometimes having all the technical skills or knowing all the information is not enough… it’s about the people.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I never thought I would be in this line of work; I started out somewhere else in the company and was offered this position. I’m happy I took it; it has been a blessing.
On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
Whenever I’m able to help out a client or a co-worker, it’s a good day… Those things are true of almost every day!
When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
Some days everything goes wrong. It can be difficult to keep your cool when people are upset and want things resolved quickly, even though it’s not always possible.
What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
I speak Spanish, English, and German; these languages have opened a lot of doors for me. Having the ability to speak other languages is a good thing when working in the customer support field and many other fields as well. I believe technology is making our world smaller, and it’s always good to be able to speak a foreign language.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Being a customer service manager can be stressful if you let it, however, we are not talking about saving lives. I believe that you decide how much of it will affect you. Whenever I feel the stress is rising, I stop, take a deep breath, and focus on what I can actually do; everything else is out of my hands.
I work from home, which is a blessing. The downside (which was a beneficial lesson in itself) is that I had to learn how to organize my time and know when it was time to stop working.
Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
I believe I have a fair salary.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I don’t recall one moment in particular, but knowing that I’ve been doing a good job and that my work is important is great!
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
Dealing with people who are negative and difficult is always hard, but it comes with the territory and you need to focus on what you can do to help them out. It is unlikely you will change their attitude, but you can at least try to solve their problem.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Most people who start working in customer service will need a High School diploma, a great attitude, good people skills and good communications skills. However, to become a customer service manager or climb to a higher position, it’s always good to know more about the specific field of the company. For example, if it’s computer-related, it’s good to have a technical degree in something related to computers.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
It’s a very rewarding field; it’s great to know I am helping people. If one has good communication skills and a positive attitude, one will do great in this field.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I get ten business days off every year. I usually don’t take them all at once, although last year I did. I had a lot of fun and came back rested and ready!
Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
Even though a customer service position is always thought of as an “entry-level” position, it’s not always the case. If one has the know-how and the education, one can hold a high position in the company.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I like to think that in five years I will have made some smart investments. Change is never easy, but I’ve come to know that it’s always for the best.