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Building the Service Nation: Changing Perceptions about the Profession of Customer Service


This research examines the extent to which customer service is seen as a profession, with defined skills, standards and career pathways, and how professional development is evaluated and supported.

We identify what actions are necessary and by whom to build recognition of service as a valued career and profession, with a significant voice and position in the boardroom.

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The research is based on interviews with senior executives (including Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers and Customer Service or Customer Experience Directors) and online surveys with 751 employees in a variety of roles, across organisations and sectors, 929 consumers and 500 young people aged between 16 and 21. The research was conducted between December 2022 and February 2023.

Around 67% of UK employees spanning a wide range of roles, departments or functions, spend significant amounts of time in their job dealing with customers. Therefore, for many organisations, the profession of customer service is about embedding a service culture to deliver the organisation’s commercial and customer experience objectives, as well as developing appropriate skills in specific roles.  The research identifies that there is a growing requirement for broader and more advanced skills and lays out in detail what these skills and capabilities will be.

Customer service provides a challenging and rewarding career with genuine pathways to develop skills and experience but potential employees are not always aware of the breadth of career opportunities and many are more likely to see customer service as a foundation for other careers than a respected profession offering good career opportunities.  The research presents 5 main pathways for careers in customer service.

To conclude, our research highlights 9 areas to improve the perception and recognition of roles and careers in customer service as well as practical recommendations to aid organisations in addressing them.

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