Why choose a Customer Service Apprenticeship?
Customer service skills are transferable across sectors and can be applied to many job roles. The apprenticeships are primarily aimed at individuals whose job role is dedicated to customer service as an occupation, for example intermediate apprentices may be Customer Service Trainees, Assistants and Representatives/Agents, whilst advanced apprentices may be Customer Relationship Managers, Co-ordinators and Team Leaders.
Employers recognise the key role customer-facing staff play in determining the quality of the customer experience and in increasing customer loyalty. In an increasingly service-led economy, customer demand for better and more individualised service is set to continue to increase. Therefore there is a need to raise customer service standards and increase the supply of people with customer service skills. Employers across all sectors, regardless of whether their main business is customer service or if they wish to train staff to undertake customer service as part of their job role, need to up skill their current workforce and recruit new staff. Customer Service Apprenticeships have a major role to play in this by helping employers address the skills gaps and shortages that they are experiencing, and by providing a vehicle for introducing and raising customer service skills in the workplace.
Employers have estimated that there will be 113,000 new jobs in customer service in England between 2004 and 2014 and have been using Apprenticeships in Customer Service as a recruitment tool since the mid-1990s. Every year around 50,000 apprentices start their Customer Service Apprenticeship training in England, making it one of the most popular apprenticeship programmes. The need for high levels of customer service skills is evident across all sectors. In particular the Retail, Financial Services, Contact Centre, Hospitality, Sport and Recreation, Health and Social Care, Telecommunications and Travel and Tourism sectors have the particularly high levels of customer service apprentices, with many other sectors,
Due to the varied nature of the customer service industry there are many job roles that apply to customer service intermediate apprentices. These will include job roles which are dedicated to customer service such as Customer Service Trainee, Customer Service Assistant, Customer Service Advisor, Customer Service Representative and Customer Service Agent.
At the advanced apprenticeship level, dedicated customer service job roles will include Customer Relationship Manager, Customer Support Officer, Customer Service Team Leader, Customer Service Supervisory and Customer Service Co-ordinator.
The Customer Service Apprenticeships have been built on the success of their predecessors by including employer led, up to date, flexible qualifications which meet their demand for higher levels of customer service skills, including softer-skills such as communication, team working, interpersonal skills and the ability to improve own learning and performance.
English and mathematics are included in the Customer Service Apprenticeship options offered for Functional Skills. However, there are no IT or ICT Functional Skills in these apprenticeships as, historically, many learners have not been able to attain these skills due to the constraints of their job roles and access to IT equipment. Due to the pan sector nature of customer service and the diversity found in the apprentice job roles outlined above, an introduction of IT and ICT to these frameworks would prohibit a considerable number of learners from attaining this apprenticeship.
Whatever job role or sector a customer service apprentice might work in, they will be learning and understanding the key concepts of customer service and how to apply customer service knowledge and skills in the workplace.
For an intermediate apprentice (level 2) these skills could involve communicating with customers, building relationships with customers, resolving problems, promoting products and/or services, using appropriate communication channels, keeping records, gathering customer feedback and working in a team.