The 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.
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 cliche 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.