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Retention Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

While retention specialists may focus on different areas of client, customer, or employee service, most share several core responsibilities:

Communicate with Customers and Employees The primary responsibility of a retention specialist is communicating directly with employees, customers, or members who have issues with the organization or company. For customer-facing retention specialists, this typically involves customers who wish to cancel contracts for a variety of reasons. Retention specialists who focus on employee retention may handle employees who are unhappy with their current position, level of responsibility, or salary.

Gather Data Related to Complaints Retention specialists gather information related to customer or employee complaints. This allows retention specialists to begin devising solutions and supports ongoing organizational improvement efforts. In this aspect of the role, the retention specialist may ask a series of questions related to the initial complaint, taking notes and asking follow-up questions to gain a complete picture of the issue at hand.

Propose Solutions Workers in this role spend a significant amount of time developing and proposing solutions. For customer retention specialists, this may include offers for lower prices or other incentives such as free shipping or account credits. This aspect of the role can be significantly more difficult for employee retention specialists, who need to consider departmental and organizational needs while working toward a resolution.

Negotiate with Customers In many cases, retention specialists negotiate directly with customers to ensure their loyalty. A customer may make a request that the retention specialist then needs to present to their supervisor. They may then present an alternative offer to the customer to attempt to find a mutually beneficial solution. This aspect of the role requires the retention specialist to balance the organization's desire to keep the customer with the potential revenue that the customer represents and the costs associated with retaining them.

Provide Reports to Supervisors Retention specialists also frequently need to provide reports to their supervisors to highlight their activities. These reports may include detailed information related to customer or employee interactions, an outline of steps taken to arrive at a solution, and the outcome of any conversations. Additionally, the retention specialist may need to compile these reports monthly or quarterly to help with organizational improvement.


Retention Specialist Skills and Qualifications

Retention specialists help companies and organizations keep customers and employees engaged. Most workers in this role have at least a high school diploma and the following skills:
  • Customer service - retention specialists need excellent client or customer service skills to successfully assist and interact with customers, members, and employees
  • Patience - this role requires a high degree of patience, as retention specialists need to gather information related to customer or employee dissatisfaction and determine how to best resolve the situation
  • Conflict resolution - retention specialists also need to be skilled at conflict resolution and should be able to navigate situations where customers or employees are unhappy with the company
  • Problem-solving skills - effective problem-solving is central to this position. Retention specialists need to think on their feet to provide solutions to customer issues or employee complaints
  • Communication skills - retention specialists should also be strong written and verbal communicators, since they tend to speak with customers on the phone or with employees in person. They often need to prepare reports, as well
  • Organization skills - organization is also key in this role, because retention specialists must maintain detailed records of interactions and update customer accounts to reflect changes

Retention Specialist Education and Training

Retention specialists typically have at least a high school diploma, although some companies prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree in a related field. This is particularly true for employee retention specialists. Customer or client service experience is usually a necessity in this role as well. There are typically many opportunities for on-the-job training in this position.

Retention Specialist Salary and Outlook

Because retention specialists may focus on several areas of an organization, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary information specifically for this role. However, customer retention specialists share many responsibilities with customer service representatives, who earn a median annual salary of $32,890. Retention specialists who focus on employee retention may be classified as human resources specialists. Workers in this role earn a median annual salary of $60,350. The BLS expects both of these roles to grow at an average pace of 5 and 7 percent, respectively, through 2026.

Helpful Resources

If you're interested in starting a career as a retention specialist, we found many helpful resources on the web: "Mend the Holes in Your Leaky Bucket: 10 Best Practices for Customer Retention" - read this blog post to learn the most effective strategies to retain customers and reward their loyalty

Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay - this book explores employee retention techniques and explains how to retain and engage high-performing team members

Certified Employee Retention Specialist (CERS) - retention specialists can obtain certification through the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) to enhance their skills and improve their employment prospects

Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue - learn even more effective customer retention practices with this in-depth guidebook

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