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If you are starting or looking to change from an already established career, working in consumer services may be an excellent option for those with the proper skill set.
Those working in consumer service positions provide customer service and support in many industries. For example, retail salespersons, flight attendants, restaurant hosts and hostesses, and cashiers are all examples of jobs in consumer services.
Generally, motivated employees can get a job in consumer services with only a high school diploma or sometimes even without one. These jobs often tend to be entry-level, but many can offer excellent opportunities to those who work hard, have good communication skills, and are reliable.
What Skills are Needed to Thrive in Consumer Services
One of the great things about working in the consumer services sector is that, for the most part, they do not require special skills or formal education to start or even excel. As a result, many people find jobs with excellent companies simply by jumping into consumer services and getting promotions.
The skills needed to work in consumer services are mostly related to communication. Customers and potential customers may need help with various tasks or issues. Those working in the consumer service industry are often the face of the company whose job is to help and solve customer problems.
Types of specific tasks may include processing transactions, assisting customers in choosing among different products and services a company offers, or other similar assistance. Those who excel in consumer services generally have a naturally friendly and outgoing demeanor, empathy, willingness to help people, and good communication and listening skills.
Best Paying Jobs in Consumer Services
Any company that sells goods or services to the public will need an army of consumer services professionals to run and grow its business successfully. The types of jobs are pretty varied, but all generally are associated with helping customers conduct their transactions with the company.
Consumer services professionals may assign different job titles, and companies may have other titles for similar jobs. Still, in general, the following types of jobs are available.
Call Center Representative
A call center agent generally takes inbound calls from customers and assists them with purchasing decisions or helping with other issues. The primary skills required are a pleasant demeanor and problem-solving skills.
These jobs may need to pay better, especially just starting, but they do offer opportunities for promotions. Successful call center reps may be able to become managers or trainers in the department or make a lateral move to other departments.
Customer Service Representative
Customer service representatives have a similar job description to call center representatives, although generally, they work in person with customers as opposed to over the phone. Again these jobs are typically entry-level but offer the same opportunities for advancement as call center representatives.
Most retail salespersons are considered consumer services jobs. While some sales skills may be required, these jobs are generally more customer service oriented than sales oriented.
Like most consumer services jobs, these jobs pay an hourly wage instead of a commission like many other sales jobs. The role of the retail salesperson is to answer questions, provide information, and process the transaction if the customer decides to purchase.
Restaurant Host or Hostess
Host or hostessing jobs are available in consumer services as well. The role of these types of professionals is to welcome the customer into the business. A good work ethic and a pleasant personality are needed to thrive in this environment. Anyone with these traits will thrive in these types of jobs. As with most consumer services jobs, these may be a great way to get into an industry or company, prove your value, and get promoted to better positions.
How Many Jobs are Available?
While many people fear these jobs may disappear in the future due to technology such as artificial intelligence and automation, today, these jobs are highly plentiful and easy to get. Almost every successful company, big or small that works with the public will need consumer services professionals.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions upon millions of these jobs are currently available. For example, in 2021, just under three million Americans were working in consumer services roles.
These jobs generally require a short on-the-job training period, and many have a high turnover rate, so companies are almost always looking for good people to fill these positions.
Often these jobs, especially at the beginning, are low paying. For many entry-level positions, the average hourly rate is about $17.50. While that is relatively low, those who prove themselves valuable in any field will be able to find better opportunities soon enough. In addition, many people who excel in these entry-level jobs can move to higher-paying positions.
Pros and Cons of Working in Consumer Services
As with any career, a profession in the consumer services industry has many pros and cons. The pros of working in consumer services include job security, sometimes a flexible schedule, and the ability to work from almost any geographic location.
While there are fears of companies eliminating these jobs due to advancing technology, as of now, these jobs are still plentiful. Almost anywhere there are people, there will be consumer service jobs available, so if you want to move just about anywhere, you can start or continue your career in this field.
These jobs also can offer a flexible schedule. Many companies need employees available to fill these jobs around the clock. Therefore, while an employer may sometimes require long hours, those with special scheduling needs who prove themselves valuable may have the ability to have a flexible schedule while still meeting the employer’s needs.
The cons of these jobs are that, generally, they are not exceptionally high paying. In addition, these are often entry-level positions but offer advancement opportunities within the same department or in another department with the same company.
Another con may be that these types of professionals occasionally have to work with rude or upset customers. Those who thrive in this environment must have the ability not to take things personally and separate their emotions from their performance.
It may take some getting used to, but many people can make that mental shift quite easily and have a successful career in these environments.
Beginning a Career in Consumer Services
Beginning a career in this field is relatively easy for the right person with the right attitude. Almost all jobs require no special skills, training, or education. Usually, companies post these jobs on their website or ZipRecruiter and Monster. In addition to online, many companies post a Help Wanted sign on their storefront to attract job applicants.
Hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and similar businesses frequently hire consumer services professionals. In addition, technology and communications companies such as phone providers, cable companies, and many other similar companies must hire consumer services professionals to work in their call centers.
These call centers are located around the country, and many are well outside the major metropolitan areas to keep their overhead costs down. Thus quite often, these jobs can be relatively high paying compared to similar jobs in the local area.
These jobs are trendy for those who wish to live in something other than a fast-paced, high-density, urban city.
If you wish to begin a career in this industry, applying to as many jobs as possible is the best way to get started. Almost anyone with the right attitude can get hired relatively quickly and begin a fine career.
To thrive after getting hired, all that is needed is a commitment to the job and helping people. Most people will soon find that they can get promoted within the company or take their new skills and job experience to a new company where better opportunities may exist.
For those wishing to excel in this field, it may not be possible to stay in the same job or even the same company for an extended period, but this is mainly due to the number of jobs available and not a lack of opportunity.
For someone who wants to avoid getting a formal education or commit to learning technical skills, these jobs offer the opportunity to begin a career immediately and eventually work up to a high-paying position.
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