Customer service manager uses multi-lingual skills to keep a business running

This 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 6 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 include answering people’s questions, (usually from clients,) but co-workers can also have questions that need to be answered, and that’s part of the job. 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 that nobody is prepared for how hard the field of customer service can be until you 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, which 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?
This can be a stressful job 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 coming on, 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 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 you’re helping people. If you have good communication skills and a positive attitude, you will do great in this field.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I get 10 business days off every year. I usually don’t take them all at once, although last year I did, and 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 you have the know-how and the education, you 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.

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  • dasauni2001

    I am a library assistant to a very difficult population. My job is to provide customer service even patrons are not always cooperative. This not always an easy job and can cause stress. The key to customer service is to provide the best possible, so one will be satisfied with themselves at the end of the day. I have experienced discrimination due to my tattoos and manner of dress. I am the youngest at my job and look different than others. I fI could write my own ticket I would be a youth counselor for schools.

    • JosieO.

      I am a Biligual Tax Examining Technician. I deal with Taxpayer calls and correspondence everyday. I deal with issues everyday. My goal is to provide 100% customer service to the Taxpayers on a daiy basis. I totally agree with Dasauni 2001, This job is not an easy one and stress levels may increase. Sometimes, I come across people that are really nasty on the phone. I work for the IRS and no one likes to hear that they owe money. I work for the collection department and I have learned not to take anything people may say to me personal.
      I really love my job and the people. I take care of each person the way I would want to be taken care of or treated. As a customer service rep., you must first listen to the customer , to determine his or her needs. Then you must let the customer/taxpayer that you understand his or her situation and the you are there as a mediator to help resolve their issues. I will have to disagree with the text above, Customer service is not an entry level position, it is very complex. You need to have common sense, the ability to listen and the intelligence to make the correct decisions in order to assist these customer properly. A person can be smart, have a degree from Harvard or Yale and still have no common sense. What brings me great satisfaction in both work and personal life, is to hear someone say that I had done an outstanding job assisting him or her with their issues.

  • LZPR

    I am an Administrative Assistant. My job demands for me to always be efficient and manage my boss’ time effectively. I have to multi-task and prioritize according to my supervisor’s needs. My priority is customer satisfaction and I often have to address many customers’ concerns and complaints. I love my job because it keeps me busy and constantly experiencing different aspects in the business world.

  • p0ptart

    Customer Service is a very important job in any business, if not the most important. Keeping the customer happy is one of the best advertising a company could ever have. Making sure that each consumer is pleased with the outcome from my assistance is never a job, it is a blessing. I hope to make my business an opportunity to make a difference in my clients day.

  • 4myfam[ily]

    Customer service is one of the most stressful fields in my opininon. I find it quite encouraging that you are able to control your stress level. I on the other hand really need to start doing that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.countryman.5 Deborah Countryman

    I think your interview was an inspiration to many of us who are entering the business world. I would hope that I can react the way you have to customers and learn that no matter what position I hold on a job, I am important. As long as I remember to take a step back and breathe as you stated I think I will have the ability to do my job. Thank you for your aspiring words.

  • Ivan Guerrero

    Customer Service is the key ingredient to making a business
    flourish not only financially but prosperously. Working in the retail industry
    where customer interaction is heavily regarded as a principle has been a vision
    altering experience. You really get to understand where clients come from and I
    engage each of them uniquely because no two people are alike! I have a new
    found respect for General Managers whether at a local gas station to a giant
    corporate enterprise like Wal-Mart. It takes skill and amazing customer service
    skills to make sure everything runs well and effectively. While I’m still an
    associate sales person at my job I feel that I’m gradually gaining imperative
    knowledge from management team, as well as my fellow associates; that will help
    me flourish when I manage my company in a few years. I view each problem or
    predicament that arises as a learning experience that I’m able to take a
    valuable lesson from.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ed.madrigal.96 Ed Madrigal

    This interview definitely shows the need for understanding that we’re all human beings.

  • Mayra

    I am part of the call center for a non-profit dental office who provides low cost dental treatments for a underserved families in Los Angeles. Subsequently, a large proportion of the community we serve is spanish speaking only. Therefore, being hispanic and being bilingual definitely has been advantageous in my work where customer service is paramount for our organization’s success in providing oral health to our community. I make it a priority to always be welcoming and positive in light of the fact that the individuals who call in need our services face many hardships. I definitely agree that customer service is in fact a rewarding field and that a positive attitude will take one far.

  • Hang Nguyen

    I’ve never involve in this type of job but I think customer service is one of the most important part of any business. I interact with customer service employees all the time and reading this articles remind me that they also multitude of daily challenges like me, if not, even more. I often forget that they encounter stressful situations and irate customers on a routine basis, so I need to be mindful of that the next time I pick up the phone. =)

  • Veronica Bevarly

    I work in customer service part-time right now, and I can understand what she means when it’s frustrating when you have negative people to deal with. Just the other day, I was working and a lady was very impatient and rude because she couldn’t get proper customer service. I was already with another customer and it did stress me out to try and figure out what to do, but I took a deep breathe and relaxed and figured out the easiest and most relaxed way to deal with the problem at hand all while trying to keep my customer happy.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelmontes1 Mtezz

    You have a great way to look at things. You see differences and you embrace them. When you see people of the same origin and feel like you can help them it is a good feeling. I believe that my skills as a customer service ambassador have been developing overtime. Although, I see myself to be very much like you in the regard that sometimes it is hard to just go out there an do what you want. Working in a field that the customer is serviced can take much effort and patience.

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