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Is consumer services a good career path for you?

Last updated

8 May 2023

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

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If you’re looking for a new career, you might consider consumer services. 

This field encompasses any business role that provides services to customers. You’ll assist customers, helping them solve problems. 

Support staff are the primary interface between companies and customers across numerous industries.

But is it the right career path for you? Let’s learn more about it. 

Types of consumer services careers

Consumer services span many industries throughout the service sector, such as:

  • Retail 

  • Healthcare 

  • Technology support 

  • Food and beverage businesses

  • Transportation companies

Consumer service fills many needs and desires, from critical functions to convenience.

Whether they relate to essential well-being or amusement and fashion, consumer services careers are in high demand. They tend to grow in proportion to the size of the population and economy.

What do consumer service jobs pay?

Due to its breadth of scope, consumer services jobs vary widely in pay

There’s a wide variation of pay within a specific consumer services field, depending on experience and company hierarchies. 

Pay scales range from US$30,000 a year for a customer services representative to upwards of US$200,000 for executives improving customer success at scale.

Skills needed to succeed in consumer services

Rapport-building, listening skills, empathy, and other hard-to-quantify "soft skills" are the hallmarks of consumer services jobs. 

At the same time, employees must have solid:

  • Time-management

  • Working memory

  • Patience

  • Communication

  • Personal responsibility and self-motivation

  • Appreciation for human psychology

  • Research skills

It may sound like a lot, but customer-employee interactions are surprisingly complex. 

Consumer services is a critical, skill-intensive field for any company to generate meaningful long-term success. If customer-focused staff are disengaged, customers will likely follow.

You could use a consumer service position to become a subject matter expert in various products and services. This could be an indispensable skill for advancement within an industry or for complementary career paths.

Pros and cons of consumer services careers

Is a career in consumer services a good choice? 

For those with the necessary skills, it's an extremely in-demand role and can offer high levels of job security. 

On the other hand, job conditions can be highly variable depending on company culture.

To decide for yourself, compare these shorthand pros and cons and see if they apply to any role you’re considering.

Pros

  • Low entry requirements and high availability

  • Opportunity to develop problem-solving skills

  • Gain expertise about a product or service

  • Potential to earn bonuses and commissions

  • Develop interpersonal skills

  • Access a variety of more senior roles once experienced

Cons

  • Burnout and stress

  • Irregular scheduling

  • Contending with frequent changes

  • Customer-facing roles can be tiring

  • Company culture may not be a fit

Because of the widely varying nature of customer service jobs, you can ensure better working conditions by carefully researching a role’s work culture. 

Once in that role, you're more or less locked into those work conditions unless you make an early exit.

Depending on the position, you could have a relatively high or low amount of responsibility, which could be a pro or a con for your goals.

Is a career in consumer services right for you?

The most fundamental questions to ask when considering a career in consumer services include:

Do you enjoy working with people? If so, in what capacity? 

The social aspects of consumer service jobs range from dropping off deliveries to communicating with customers throughout the day. Consider how much and in what ways you prefer to communicate. 

You can find customer-facing support jobs involving:

  • Face-to-face communication

  • Phone support services

  • Web chat

  • Social media

  • Email support ticket systems

What are your skills and qualifications? 

Some may wish to find jobs aligned with their current skillset for a smoother, easier experience. They’ll be immediately more effective in their role. 

Others might consider a service role to build desired skills and qualifications. Either way, clarify what you're looking for in your job.

What are your goals? 

Big or small, everyone has goals. Clarity on your goals will save you time, narrowing your search to more meaningful options.

Even if you're considering a position out of necessity, it's still important to envision how it fits into an overall plan. 

Whatever motivates your interest in consumer services, it may help to write out your short, medium, and long-term plans. This can provide a greater sense of control over your career trajectory.

Finding the right consumer services position

There's an extensive range of options within the consumer services sector. 

Beyond asking, "Is consumer services a good career path?" you'll want to research which role is right for you.

It could be the difference between being a store clerk in a career you don’t care about versus taking time and initiative to identify something that fits into a long-range career strategy. 

Always ask how a job prospect fits the career path of your dreams.

Many forget the consumer services industry is vast. Given the large proportion of service-based jobs in the economy at any given moment, there's plenty of choice. 

Even if you desire something more active, a career in public transportation could provide the inspiration you desire.

What are the best consumer services jobs?

As subjective as it is, many consumer services jobs could be considered best-suited for someone’s needs. For instance:

Customer service representative

Although this role provides far from the best pay, nothing compares in terms of widespread availability and ease of entry.

Customer services manager

This is one of the best, most reliable career tracks to earning increased pay after several years of relevant experience.

Salesperson

A salesperson role is likely the best way to find a higher-paying consumer services position out of the gate. It’s great for those willing to take on a steeper learning curve.

Account executive

This could be the "best" in terms of remuneration and specialization in the field. 

Companies priding themselves on offering the best products often pay top dollar for those skilled at providing consistent white-glove service. These businesses may include luxury real estate agencies or financial services for high-net-worth individuals.

Personal trainer or coach

This role offers incredible freedom, including the chance to expand into higher levels of success for the exceptionally skilled and those serving specialist niches. 

It’s perhaps also the best in making a difference in people's lives in ways not possible with tangible products.

FAQs

What is the future career path for customer service?

Providing services to each other is almost as indispensable to an economy as trading raw materials or finished products. In terms of sheer volume, it's a very secure career path, and it will remain that way.

Those interested in a long-term career path in consumer services can look forward to a high likelihood of internal promotions, especially within retail, hospitality, and other centrally located businesses. 

Salespeople often have more flexible compensation structures, such as bonuses or commissions. 

Those who work throughout a locale (like a taxi or delivery driver) must usually set their sights on running their own operations to advance in their career path.

Is there career growth in customer service?

There is, but because competition for top-paying customer service jobs is high, it often comes down to experience, even within a narrow niche. 

At the same time, it's possible to grow into a higher position in your chosen career path within a different industry than the one you're most experienced in. Service roles often require a wealth of broad experience.

New businesses appear every day, so new opportunities await those with an impressive track record helping customers find greater success.

What is the highest-paid customer service job?

Service designers are one of the higher-paid customer service positions. A service designer must think from the customer's perspective to design new, optimized service processes that enhance the user experience. 

However, landing a personal concierge job for a wealthy or famous person could pay the equivalent of an annual salary each month. Only a top-ranking account executive providing extremely specialized goods and services might pay more.

What can I do with 10 years of customer service experience?

Ten years of quality service can set you up for managerial positions within that same industry. It can also prove that you have firsthand experience with customers in a particular market. 

This could be a springboard into other, more specialized careers, such as market researchers, who seek intimate knowledge of their target market and what motivates the ideal customer.

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