A customer service specialist plays an important role within a business organisation. Employers recognise the key role customer-facing staff play in determining the quality of the customer experience and increasing customer loyalty. The economy is increasingly service-led, with more and more customer demands for better and individualised service. Employers estimated there to be 113,000 new jobs in customer service in England during 2004-2014, which is continuing to increase. As a Customer Service Apprentice, your exact duties will depend on your employer. It's likely that you'll be working with a team or member of staff to handle various tasks. You may be communicating effectively with customers face to face, in writing, or by telephone, resolving problems and improving customer relations, promoting products and services, keeping records, gathering customer feedback. This type of work requires strong communication, negotiation and flexibility skills. One of the great things about Customer Service is that you can work almost anywhere, with your transferable skills; you could be working in a hotel, large global organisation or maybe a charity. Customer Service roles are also an excellent starting point to progress into different market sectors, start your own business or move into management once you have more experience.
Am I ready to start?
Entry criteria varies depending on the framework you are studying and the needs of the employer, but a good level of secondary education is expected and many employers expect you to have maths and English GCSE at a C grade or above, if you don't have these we will work with you to achieve them on your apprenticeship. Employers also look for skills like motivation, good interpersonal skills, good communication skills, teamwork and a willingness to learn and will set their own specifications depending on the role.
It may be you don't feel you are ready for an apprenticeship and might benefit from a Traineeship first.
How does an Apprenticeship Work?
The Apprenticeship framework is made up of various elements. Each qualification requires a minimum GLH (guided learning hours) which covers both on and off the job activity. Amount of GLH will depend on qualification, level and pathway.
An assessment plan will be agreed with you and your progress will be monitored and reported on regularly. Information will be shared with your employer. Your course will be achieved through evidence and assessment both within your workplace and Harlow College. College attendance will depend on the level and elements you need to complete for your framework. Workplace visits will be carried out by your dedicated assessor to assess your competence whilst carrying out your job role.
To cover the requirements for each element, assessment will be evidenced through a variety of methods: observation, product, learner statement, case studies, witness testimony, professional discussion, assignment and exam.
The duration of the course is dependent on prior attainment and can range from 12 months to 18 months. You will attend College for 1 day a week and you be in the workplace for the remaining 4 days.
What does the course involve?
Customer Service combined qualification
You must demonstrate competence within your job role to meet the aims and objectives of the business and criteria set out in the qualification standards, as well as the knowledge required to meet customer service principles. Delivery will be located at Harlow College, through distant learning and within your workplace. Unlike vocational qualifications the competence elements are designed to be assessed in the workplace. Some units will be achieved through written assignments and/or on-line multiple choice tests.
Functional Skills, English, Maths
These skills include English and Maths, which are essential for people in order to function effectively within a business environment. You will work towards level 2, where GCSE A-C or equivalents have not previously been achieved.
ERR (Employer Rights and Responsibilities)
This part of the framework is achieved through a dedicated unit or an on-line workbook and covers the nine national outcomes in relation to ERR. It covers the knowledge and understanding of employee statutory rights and responsibilities, which are covered by employment law, to include the Equality Act, Employment Rights Act and Health and Safety at Work Act. You must show your understanding of your employer's procedures and how to get further advice and information.
PLTS (Personal learning and thinking skills)
This is achieved as part of the main qualification through class sessions and evidence provided. PLTS covers six areas of independent enquiry, creative thinking, reflective learning, team working, self-management and effective participation.
How and when will I study?
The apprenticeship will take a minimum of 12 months to complete.
Down to business, what can I do and what can I earn?
With support, guidance and opportunities in the workplace you can progress onto:
- The next level apprenticeship in Customer Service or other apprenticeships – particularly where customer service is an important part of the job such as Business Administration, Retail, Hospitality and Travel & Tourism
- Further education to undertake customer service, business related or other qualifications
- The Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Business & Professional Administration, Contact Centre Management or Leadership and Management
- A range of customer service and other professional qualifications, including Level 4 Diploma in Customer Service Management, a Level 4 diploma in contact centres or a foundation degree in contact centre management
- A range of customer service, contact centres, sales, business related and undergraduate programmes
After training, a career path could include customer relationship manager, customer service executive officer, customer service delivery co-ordinator, receptionist, customer service team leader, customer service supervisors/manager, senior customer service supervisor, marketing services manager.
You'll be paid at least the current minimum wage rate for intermediate apprenticeships, but it could be more than that as you progress. Examples of Careers/Job Roles on successful completion of your Apprenticeship include:
- Customer Relationship Officer £20,000 - £30,000
- Customer Service Executive £18,000 - £23,000
- Receptionist £15,000 - £21,000
- Customer Service Team leader £22,000 - £32,000
- Customer Service Manager £30,000 - £35,000
- Marketing Services Manager £45,000 - £50,000
Got a job?
You must have a job to do an apprenticeship. If you already have a job you may be able to do an apprenticeship with your current employer.
If you don’t have a job for your apprenticeship – apply for your place at College by clicking the 'Apply Now' button at the top and bottom of the page.
Once you have applied please check out our apprenticeship job vacancies.
An apprenticeship comprises two parts:
- Typically 20% study element (at Harlow College or Stansted Airport College).
- 80% work based element with an employer. It is your responsibility to find an employer.