What customer supervisor jobs are like

What customer service supervisor jobs are likeThe scenario is a common one, and you may have found yourself on one or both sides of it. A customer, we'll call her Bathilda, wants to return a particular item she has purchased. Said item is not eligible for return and she is informed of this by her friendly customer service representative, we'll call him Archibald. Bathilda immediately becomes unhappy with Archibald's response and demands to speak to his manager. This is where the dashingly handsome and witty customer service supervisor, me, comes in and saves the day. I bet you're wondering how I got to play the role of dashing supervisor - here's how I got this job and while I liked best about it.

The interview

I was promoted into this position from a mid-level management position in customer service. If you're keeping track the chain of command is customer service, operations senior, and operations supervisor. Don't let the name fool you, part of the operations supervisor role is to supervise customer service.

I've held all of those positions and although this might surprise you, there wasn't a long interview. I was transferred to a new store to help "clean-up" some of their processes. During the clean-up process, I found out the current supervisor had been breaking some of the company's rules. She had been returning her own merchandise (a big no-no). She was "let go" and the General Manager pulled me into a room (the control room, where all the electric panels are) and said "would you like the supervisor job?" I've found that interviews for promotions in the same department aren't usually complicated. You've already proved you can do the job, so it's more just a matter of formality.


I began training for this position nearly a year before I was actually promoted. The process consisted of shadowing first, and gradually progressed to delegated tasks which I would complete myself. Much of my new position consisted of tasks my manager didn't have time for (like scheduling and interviewing), so she would train me on the task and I'd take it over.

The actual job

I was the second line of defense, the appellate court if you will, for customers who didn't agree with a decision made at customer service. Often times I'd have to look at a number of different ways my decision would impact the profitability of the store like cost, whether the item was under warranty or not and many other factors too boring to name. As clich? as it might sound, I eventually learned that the customer truly is always right. Unless an item would have been ridiculously cost prohibitive to return, it is much cheaper in the long run to return an item than lose a customer.

The best part

Meaningful relationships with my direct reports. As a supervisor, I oversaw a team of nearly thirty cashiers, customer service representatives and customer service seniors. I had many hardworking, devoted and hilarious employees, and it was by far my favorite part of my job.

The worst part

Being pulled in a million directions. This job was not for the faint of heart. It's also not for someone who can't multitask. I often found myself juggling counting drawers, filling in at customer service, doing schedules for the entire store, training new employees, approving time off requests and getting yelled at by customers all at the same time. It was stressful at times, but never boring.

Pros and cons of manager jobs

The upsides and downsides of manager jobsOh snap! A manager position just opened up where you work. You're going to apply for the job first thing in the morning, and you just know you're going to get it. You'll make tons of money, have a cushy job and never have to clean the toilets again. This is gonna be great!

Or is it?

Before you start printing out business cards, take a minute to review both the pros and the cons of manager jobs.


Pros of manager jobs

More money
You'll definitely make more money in a managerial position. Retail salespeople, on average, make around $9 an hour, or $18,700 per year. Get a retail manager job and your paycheck might just double. According to PayScale, a salary comparison site, the starting salary for a retail sales manager is between $27,000 and $40,000 a year.

The perks don't stop with just money. Managers usually get bigger discounts, better benefits, more vacation time and sometimes even bonuses.

More responsibility
It's a great feeling to know that you are trusted to make important decisions. You'll be in charge of employee schedules, ordering supplies and budgeting. You'll get to interview people, hire them and promote them. Managers have a great deal of responsibility, which for the right person, is a big job perk.

More experience
Getting a management position can be a great way to turn your current job into a career. Many managers go on to become general managers or district managers, overseeing multiple stores or restaurants. Some even move on to suit-and-tie corporate jobs. As an added bonus, your management experience can be used anywhere. Even if you decide, for instance, to go from the food service industry to the retail world, you'll be valued for your ability to lead a team.


Cons of manager jobs

More tough decisions
Part of being a manager is making some very difficult decisions. Is your favorite employee stealing money out of the cash register? Like it or not, you'll be the one firing them. Forced to lay someone off? You'll be the one who has to decide who heads to the unemployment line.
Managers have to make a lot of unpopular decisions for the good of the company. So if you don't have a thick skin and can't deal with people not liking you, then you're better off staying out of management.

More pressure
Not only will you have your manager breathing down your neck about cutting store costs, you'll have your employees demanding everything from a bigger paycheck to more vacation time. You'll be the one held responsible every time something goes wrong. Did the toilet overflow? You need to figure out how to fix it. Did three people call out for the same shift? Then you've got to replace them right now. Trust us when we tell you that the more responsibility you get, the more pressure you'll face.

More work
Nights. Weekends. Holidays. Get used to working them. Gone are the days when you could call in sick and go hang out with your friends - you're a manager now and have way too much work to do any of that. Most restaurant managers work an average of 60 hours a week. Compare that to how much you work now! While managers do get paid a bigger salary, when it's all said and done, they may actually make less per hour than some of their employees.

Did the pros outweigh the cons? Then start your management job search now.

Management job interviews

How to nail a management job interviewInterviewing for a position in management is much different from entry-level job interviews. Instead of asking you about your skills, the hiring manager will address a number of different competencies. This helps the hiring manager understand how you'll think and act in tough management situations.

We've identified five management competencies you have to demonstrate in the interview. Find out what questions you can expect to hear and what your answers should include.

Management skill #1

Show them you can make decisions.

Common interview questions:

  • "What would you do if one of your employees was rude to a customer?"
  • "What if someone who worked for you was always coming in late?

What they want to hear:

  • You think about all of the consequences of the decision you're making.
  • You take into account the needs of the business.
  • You're not afraid to act decisively.
  • You will use all of your available resources (company policies, documentation of incidents, your manager) to your advantage.

Management skill #2

Show them you can assign duties to team members.

Common interview questions:

  • "How will you delegate tasks to your employees?"
  • "How will you be sure that each task is completed successfully?”

What they want to hear:

  • You pick the right people for each task.
  • You deliver clear instructions.
  • You encourage each employee.
  • You follow up with them (sometimes more than once) to be sure the task has been done well.

Management skill #3

Show them you can motivate your team.

Common interview questions:

  • "How would you coach different people on your team?”
  • "How would you motivate your team?"

What they want to hear:

  • You customize your approach to each individual.
  • You motivate your team with appropriate rewards and reasonable incentives.
  • You're creative with your incentives (leaving early, bonuses, prizes, or just a good ol' fashioned pat on the back).

Management skill #4

Show them you'll develop your employees.

Common interview questions:

  • “How will you train your team?”
  • "How will you retain great employees?"

What they want to hear:

  • You get to know your staff, so you can find out how they learn and what they need.
  • You prepare your employees for promotion opportunities.

Management skill #5

Show them you're a great communicator.

Common interview questions:

  • "How do you let an employee know he or she is not meeting your expectations?"
  • “What's the best way to communicate your expectations to someone who reports to you?”

What they want to hear:

  • You are direct and honest with feedback.
  • You know how to offer feedback in a non-threatening manner.
  • You're able to pick the proper time and place for communicating with employees.

Seven employers that promote from within

Companies that promote from withinBest Buy's CEO started on the sales floor. The former CEO of Harley Davidson started as a freight elevator operator for the company.

Your next hourly job could be the springboard to big things, like a store management job or even a position at your company's corporate headquarters. These seven companies offer opportunities to start at the bottom and move up - fast.

1. Chipotle Mexican Grill

Everybody starts with tortillas. Chipotle requires all new hourly hires to start out in crew positions. The good news is that this fast-growing restaurant chain has a goal of developing all its restaurant managers from team members. Once you've mastered burrito-rolling and great customer service, you could become a kitchen manager, service manager and eventually general manager.

2. WIS International

Do you get restless when you're looking at the same four walls? You might thrive as an inventory associate with WIS International. The job involves traveling to different retail locations each day to inventory the merchandise in stock using a handheld scanner. WIS International team members have the opportunity to be trained for retail manager jobs, which means that very soon you could find yourself managing a team of 30-50 people. Even the CEO of the company started out as an inventory manager.

3. Boston Market

Comfort-food king Boston Market is a great place to start a restaurant career and get management training. If you start at Boston Market as a team member, you're encouraged to become an hourly shift leader. If you’re good in that role, then you might be ready for a management job. First you’ll work as a manager-in-training, then you can become an assistant manager or even a general manager.

4. Valvoline Instant Oil Change

You don't have to be an engine expert to start working at Valvoline Instant Oil Change - you just have to be willing to get your hands dirty. This company teaches new employees everything they need to know, from how to service a car to how to manage a team. Ninety percent of Valvoline's service center managers started as hourly technicians. On average, the company says, an oil change technician can be promoted to certified technician 90 days after hire. After that, you can become a senior technician, then assistant manager, and eventually, service center manager.

5. Harris Teeter

This popular grocery store chain in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic offers opportunities for its team members to advance rapidly into management jobs. Ted Harrington, the company's manager of diversity, started as a 21-year-old Harris Teeter cashier. He was promoted to assistant manager, then customer service manager - all within just six months!

6. Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart

Sears and Kmart - which are owned by the same company - take management training seriously. They offer four different programs to develop managers for their stores. The entry-level program is the management trainee track, which Sears says "offers intense, engaging, hands-on experience, the most comprehensive you can get in the industry." Completing this program will land you a position as a support manager or assistant store manager.

7. AT&T

AT&T runs several manager development programs that are primarily aimed at recent college grads. Instead of starting as a retail salesperson or a retail sales representative, motivated grads can enter an intensive Retail Sales Leadership Program that combines classroom training and in-store rotations. When the program's done, you can jump right into an AT&T manager job. When you’re managing the store, will you give us a discount on an iPhone?

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Start your management job search today on Snagajob.