Magazine subscription assistant

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Jane Ashcroft works for a company that handles magazine subscriptions on behalf of publishers. Regular readers of a magazine often find it cheaper and more convenient to buy a subscription and have issues delivered to their door. If there are any problems with their subscription, they contact someone like Jane.

Can you describe your role?

It is my job to answer queries from subscribers. These come by post, telephone or e-mail. I deal with queries as quickly as possible – the target is to make sure that all queries are answered within 48 hours. That means ensuring that I respond to the oldest query first, unless there is an urgent problem which must be dealt with immediately.

What sort of problems do customers have?

The most common queries come from customers who have not received an issue of the magazine to which they subscribe. I check their details on the database and try to discover the reason. Other problems arise from having the incorrect address in our database. I am usually able to deal with any query which comes to me, but occasionally a customer asks to talk to a more senior member of staff so I would pass their query to my supervisor.

Who else do you work with?

There are 13 other people in my team. We each deal with queries about subscriptions to a particular magazine or journal. I work in an open-plan office doing normal 9-5 business hours.

What training have you had?

When I first joined the company I was trained on how to use our phone, e-mail and database system by an experienced customer service adviser. I have had telephone customer service training which helps me to treat every customer as an individual with a unique problem. The training was good fun, as we split into groups and did lots of role playing.

What qualities do you need to do your job?

Good communication skills are essential – as well as spending a lot of time talking to customers on the phone, you also communicate with them by letter and e-mail. confidence is important and patience and tact help you to deal with difficult customers.

What do you like most about your work?

I really like the atmosphere at work and get on well with all my colleagues. There can be a certain amount of pressure because we are expected to deal with queries within 48 hours, but everyone works together to make sure we meet our targets.

Is there anything you don't like?

There are a few customers who shout or become aggressive, even before they have explained their query. It's important to stay calm and professional when dealing with them, so I try to remember the techniques I learnt in my training.

What work ambitions do you have?

I would like to be promoted and keep moving up the career ladder. This is a big company so it's possible to gain more experience by moving to a different department. The company is also very supportive about offering further training like NVQs.

Jane's route

  • A levels.
  • Marketing assistant for a small company.
  • NVQ Administration Level 2.
  • Moved to present job in a large company.

Jane's tips

  • Good grades in English will demonstrate your communication skills to potential employers.
  • You should be efficient and able to pick up new information quickly – to answer customer queries you will need to know a lot about the product.

Subscription assistant related jobs

  • Telesales operator
  • Call centre operator
  • Customer services assistant/manager

Salary of a subscription assistant

  • New entrants start on about £10-£11,000, moving to £15,000 with experience.
  • Highest rates of pay are about £20,000.

Getting in

  • Some organisations ask for up to five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) including English and maths.
  • NVQ/SVQ level 2 and 3 in Customer Service is also useful for entry.
  • Employers look for confidence, a pleasant personality and a good telephone manner.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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