The heart of business activity

In a small shop, customer service can be as simple—and important—as the person behind the counter giving a friendly greeting and helping shoppers find what they’re looking for. Larger retail businesses and other organisations might employ a dedicated team, whose job it is to answer questions, give advice and offer refunds on faulty products or services. They’re also the ones who have to sort out problems and deal with complaints.

Customer service often involves dealing with the public face-to-face, but as many companies now have clients all round the world, telephone call centres and computer help desks are becoming increasingly important.

Customer service is at the heart of most business activity, so the skills gained from apprenticeships in this sector will prove valuable across a range of industries and roles.

Each apprenticeship in this sector is able to prepare you for one or more facets of working within customer service and retail. In particular, the bakery, butcher and fishmonger apprenticeships allow you to specialise in areas of retail that are in high demand.

The buyer and merchandiser apprenticeships cover two roles integral to retail in particular, but which are important to other industries, too. They understand the brand and customer in order to source, select, maintain and deliver the right products to meet demand and business objectives. Crucially, buyers identify and source the right products and services for the organisation to sell to customers, while merchandisers ensure that the right products are available to customers in the right place at the right time and in the right quantities.

The Apprenticeship Guide sector head

Assistant buyer/merchandiser

Source, select, maintain and deliver the right products to meet demand and business objectives An assistant buyer or merchandiser understands the brand and customer in order to source, select, maintain

Baker

Make bread products in an industrial, in-store or craft bakery Every day, bakers make and sell millions of loaves of bread and baked goods, such as cakes, pies, pastries and

Bakery manager

Make and sell baked goods, such as bread, cakes, pies, pastries and biscuits As a bakery manager, you’ll develop an in-depth knowledge of bakery techniques and expertise in a range

Butcher

Produce the most cuts to make every carcass profitable A successful butcher must demonstrate dexterous knife skills, together with craft, to be able to produce the most cuts to make

Commis chef

Prepare food and carry out basic cooking tasks in every section of a kitchen A commis chef is the most common starting position in many kitchens and the most junior

Customer service practitioner

The first point of contact for a business and its customers As a customer service practitioner, your core responsibility will be to provide a high-quality service to customers, which will

Customer service specialist

Provide direct customer support within all sectors and organisation types The main purpose of a customer service specialist is to be a ‘professional’ for direct customer support. In this role,

Fishmonger

Sell fish and seafood products, and advise customers on how to prepare them Fishmongers are responsible for preparing and selling fish, and shellfish products, to members of the public. As

Funeral director

Arrange, conduct and manage funerals A funeral director has overall responsibility for the client and the deceased by arranging, conducting and managing the funeral. In this role, you’ll act as

Funeral team member

Create a good first impression, put clients at ease, take information, answer questions or find answers A funeral team member is the first point of contact for the business, so