1. Do your research into the day-to-day of a client relations role
Before setting off on a career or even applying to your first client relations or client service job opening, take a step back and consider your motivations. Do you see yourself as a ‘people person’? Do you enjoy a competitive environment at work? On the flip side, do you prefer more quiet heads-down time over a dynamic pace of phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings?
It’s easiest to glean this information from job postings but it pays to get the ‘behind the scenes’ look by reaching out for an informational interview with someone currently working in client relations. Look through your own network or even cold email (or rather private message) to someone holding your ideal job title (or a position you would covet in five years). Inform them in the initial outreach that you’re not looking to apply through them but rather to inform yourself about a career in client relations. Simple questions to get the conversation flowing include: How did you get started in this field, how did you get to your current role, what is the most rewarding part of the job, and what kind of person should not consider a career in client relations.
2. Get started with a degree or take courses in sales, lead generation, etc.
This step doesn’t necessarily need to come in second place but certainly helps make your CV shine when applying for a first job in client service. Every candidate is unique in their past job experience and studies but having professional (including internship and part-time work) proof of work in customer service, sales, support, and other public-facing positions is crucial. The prospective employer will be interested to learn how you cope in matching customer satisfaction to business objectives and your ability to deliver in real-time and under pressure.
Even if your current role or studies don’t overlap with client relations, there are always alternative ways to build up your résumé. In terms of studies, you can consider asynchronous courses through online learning platforms like edX or Coursera that offer lectures and take-home assignments in sales, marketing, and business development.
Don’t dismiss volunteer opportunities in customer service, fundraising, and sponsorship development that can provide you with brilliant learning opportunities while you contribute to net-positive causes around you.
3. Look out for client-facing job opportunities
The thing with the client relations field is that it goes by a number of different names depending on the organization. Over time, the name has taken a number of iterations according to differing business objectives, while the individuals and the skill sets remain congruent. With that in mind, you’ll need to expand your search to include terms like account coordinator, client service, customer specialist, client success, and occasionally customer support.
While the goals and specific targets may differ across these job titles, the core skills remain the same. These include written and verbal communication, quick problem-solving, time management, cross-departmental collaboration, and customer relations management (CRM).
4. Join an accelerated new graduate program for client relations
Particularly interesting when setting off in a career in client relations are accelerated programs for new graduates. A number of companies offer graduated or rotational multi-year programs that select candidates early into their careers and intensively train them with the aim to position them for managerial positions. These programs are excellent for those looking for broad exposure to business operations and assurance of a career pathway early on. Best yet, when you’re starting out in an associate program, you’ll be joined by similar-minded colleagues on the same journey with brilliant opportunities for mutual support. Dialectica’s Client Service Team, for example, is an ideal opportunity to jumpstart your client-relations career in a similar way. As a Client Service Associate, you will gain crucial business skills in a rapidly expanding, international work environment, that will set you up in a managerial role in as little as 12 months, and a VP role in as few as 5 years.
5. Use the experience as a stepping stone to other adjacent departments
Some folks are made to live and breathe client relations while others may look to utilize their basket of earned skills and pivot to their next career move. Sometimes this is done out of interest, sometimes out of circumstances specific to their organization after a few years of climbing the ranks. Just because you’ve developed a career close to clients, doesn’t mean that you are tied to a career forever with ‘client’ or ‘customer’ in the title. From a service delivery mindset, experience in quick problem-solving, clear communications and expectations management, and rigor in attaining targets, you’ll be well cut out for a role transfer within your organization, or a career pivot externally. It goes without saying that managerial business skills like negotiations, people management, and interpersonal skills are transferable across departments, fields, and organizations.
Those with experience in client service are well equipped to move onto a role in Sales with that familiarity in finding solutions to customer needs and working as a team towards incremental improvements. Others go onto careers in marketing from having learned the product or service’s best-selling features and pain points in an after-purchase period. Other possible avenues not to be looked over include project manager roles (from an innate understanding of operations and dependencies) and even recruiting (also from excellence around delivering to the public).
Through the five tips mentioned here, we hope that you now have some first steps defined on your client relations journey. A career in client service offers instant and tangible recognition that brings you close to the product and public, all with a dynamic rhythm. Now, who wouldn’t want to help make someone’s day better by solving their problem at hand?
Find out how to start your English-speaking career in Athens, in the fast-paced, international environment that Dialectica offers, and explore our exciting relocation opportunities and employee benefits by visiting our website.