On Monday I sent this text message to my daughter:“Happy first day of your last semester of college…”
As I was hitting send, I was thinking about how it feels like it was only a short time ago that she was starting her first day of college. Fast forward four years and I am even more surprised with all of the prepping going into her next stage of life as a college graduate.
For many college graduates, it’s their first time stepping into the job market. A couple of common entry level roles in organizations include customer service and accounts payable (AP) representatives. I mentioned this to a couple of my daughter’s friends and their reactions were less than enthusiastic.
I quickly realized that college may have taught them a lot of things, but there are still misconceptions out there when it comes to such jobs. So, I thought it was worth sharing some information regarding those positions and what I’m hearing from my customers that are hiring for these roles.
- Traditional roles in customer service are evolving into more strategic and satisfying positions.
A few years ago, a Customer Service Representative (CSR) may have spent the majority of their time receiving orders over a fax machine, keying in the order, and then filing the paperwork associated with it. In many situations, this is no longer the case. Instead, the customer service department is growing in importance as it is the face of the organization to customers.
- Customer experience has become one of the key differentiators in markets where products are very similar, and sometimes identical.
Companies are making large investments in automation to improve the customer experience where it can be improved by technology. At the same time, they are recognizing that technology can only get them so far. This exponentially increases the value of CSRs who have great communication, empathy, and problem-solving skills — things that cannot be solved by technology and are vitally important to the success of the company.
- Accounts payable departments are evolving in a much similar way.
It’s no longer just about getting invoices in, processing them, and sending out the payments. Accounts payable departments are increasingly being looked at as potential profit centers and some are even referring to themselves as customer service for the supplier community of the organization.
- Invoice processing are not the primary job of the AP department.
Judy Bicking shared that the true value of AP staff members to the organization is to get data off invoices and to utilize that data to the benefit of the company. This includes working strategically with procurement to see where they can make improvements across the process to add efficiency and deliver cost savings.
Landing that first job will allow you to start to build a network within your industry. There could be an open position that is your ideal role in a few years and you may not even know that it exists unless you know the right people. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people who started in the same role that you are in now. Learning from them and staying in touch can help you build your knowledge in your current role and also allow them to keep you in mind when an opportunity to take your career to the next level arises.
With all that being said, my daughter still has one semester of college left. I’m going to try and find some time to get back up to visit her a couple more times before she has to enter “the real world”. I am excited to see where her journey takes her — but if it’s across the country, our weekends together will require much more planning and plane tickets.