Customer service representatives (CSRs) work in a variety of industries, including retail, banking, insurance, and information technology. They provide a link between the company and the customer, and between the customer and the company’s products or services.
CSRs answer questions, respond to complaints, resolve billing issues, and help customers set up new accounts. They may also respond to questions from existing customers about products and services, and provide information about their accounts and order status. They may also process returns, refunds, and exchanges.
Customer Service Representative Job Duties
A customer service representative’s responsibilities can include:
- Communicating with customers to answer questions about products and services
- Updating contact lists and databases with new information received from customers
- Identifying customer issues or problems and resolving them using problem-solving techniques
- Documenting issues/complaints/feedback during service calls and reporting them to the appropriate department for further review
- Upselling or cross selling products or services
- Sending receipts, invoices or other required documentation as needed
- Profiling each client based on demographic characteristics such as age, gender, job title, income level, family size, etc.
- Maintaining a professional demeanor when dealing with difficult customers
Customer Service Representative Salary & Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that, as of May 2020, the median hourly wage for customer service representatives is $17.23. The lowest 10% of earners make less than $11.59 per hour, while the highest 10% make more than $27.80.
The employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2% between 2019-2029. This decline is due to an increase in automation and the increased use of social media and mobile applications. However, jobs for customer service representatives are projected to be added in business support services, which includes telephone call centers.
Customer Service Representative Job Requirements
The requirements for customer service representatives are as follows:
Education: Many employers require that their customer service representatives have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer applicants with a two-year associate’s degree.
Training: On-the-job training is the most common approach. Supervisors and mentors work with the new employee every day to show them how to do their job. This training is usually for an informal period of time.
Certification: The National Customer Service Association offers several certification programs for customer service representatives. These programs are intended to help employees gain specific knowledge of the industry and to help employers find employees who are prepared for specific positions.
Customer Service Representative Skills
Customer service representatives must possess the following skills:
Computer skills: Candidates need to be comfortable using computers, as they are often required to perform data entry tasks.
Communication skills: Customer service representatives must be able to communicate effectively with customers and coworkers.
Skill in problem-solving: Customer service representatives must be able to solve problems for customers. This is especially important when dealing with irate customers who are upset about their product or service.
Time management skills: A customer service representative’s job is very fast-paced, so time management skills are crucial.
Ability to multitask: Customer service representatives have many responsibilities that they must juggle at once, including listening to customer complaints, helping customers place orders, answering questions about products or services, and resolving billing issues.
Flexibility: The job requires flexibility because the hours can vary depending on the needs of the business and changes in staffing levels.
Customer Service Representative Work Environment
Customer service representatives can be found in nearly every industry. Most are employed by companies that provide customer service to other entities. Some examples include call centers, retail stores, and banks. It’s their job to address customer questions and issues and to resolve problems. They spend most of their time on the phone and often must work long hours to keep up with customer demand.
Customer Service Representative Career Advancement
Customer service representatives can advance their careers by improving their technical skills and taking on leadership roles. For example, they might become a team leader or a supervisor. In these positions, they’ll maintain a high level of customer service and provide guidance to junior team members.
Customer service representatives can also become a marketing or corporate-level customer service representative. In these roles, they’ll work with the marketing department to promote products and services and formulate ways to improve customer retention.
Customer Service Representative Trends
Here are three trends influencing how Customer Service Representatives work. Customer Service Representatives will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Importance of Social Media
The most effective customer service representatives will have a strong understanding of the best practices when it comes to using social media for customer service.
For example, 80% of customers expect a response from companies within 60 minutes of posting a question or complaint on Twitter, so customer service reps will need to learn how to respond quickly and effectively in order to maintain positive relationships with their customers.
Increased Customer Expectations
Today’s customers are more educated than ever before, and their increased knowledge has led to higher expectations.
Customers now expect businesses to provide detailed product information and step-by-step instructions on how to use their products or services in order to minimize confusion and increase the likelihood of positive experiences.
Customer service representatives will need to become proficient in foreign languages, especially Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, which are the two of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
Companies that market internationally or across cultural borders will want to ensure that their customer service teams are capable of speaking multiple languages in order to meet the needs of a wider range of customers.
How to Become a Customer Service Representative
1. Planning Your Career Path
Customer service is a rapidly growing field, with several roles and positions that appeal to people with a variety of interests. For example, some customer service representatives work on the phone while others answer emails. Others are more focused on sales, which could include working at a retail store or in a call center. Regardless of the job you choose, all customer service positions share a few key traits: the ability to think on your feet, strong communication skills, and the capacity to listen and understand what others are saying.
Customer service roles also allow you to build an interpersonal skill set that could be beneficial in other areas of your life. You’ll also have the opportunity to use a wide range of technology to communicate with customers and solve their problems, which will help you become comfortable with new tools and techniques.
2. Writing a Resume
Since the primary job duty of a customer service representative is to assist customers, it’s important that you highlight your interpersonal skills and communication abilities. To do this, describe how you have been able to help others with similar issues in the past.
You may also want to discuss any training or certifications you have that will be relevant for this position. This will show that you are prepared for the job and know what you’re doing.
3. Applying for Jobs
There are a number of ways to find customer service jobs. Some employers may post job listings on their website, and some job boards can help you find them. Make sure you have a good understanding of the job description, as well as the company’s mission and values. This will help you tailor your resume and cover letter to show that you are a good fit for the company.
4. Ace the Interview
If you are interviewing for a customer service representative position, you will want to make sure that you have great communication skills. During the interview, make sure to speak clearly and professionally. Also, be prepared to talk about what makes you a good fit for the company. The employer will also want to know how well you deal with difficult customers, so think about some of your experiences and come up with examples of how well you handled certain situations.