Do you like listening to others' problems? Well, ok, nobody really enjoys listening to complaints, but some are better at pretending to care than others. If that's you, maybe consider a career as a customer service representative.
From customer complaints to processing orders and just being able to answer questions, customer service representative interact with customers throughout their day. The great news is that representatives are needed in almost every industry, so it shouldn't be that difficult to find a job. And as long as you're able to communicate well with others and know your way around a computer, all you need is a high school degree and some on-the-job training.
Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.
Customer service representatives typically do the following:
- Listen to customers’ questions and concerns, and provide answers or responses
- Provide information about products and services
- Take orders, calculate charges, and process billing or payments
- Review or make changes to customer accounts
- Handle returns or complaints
- Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
- Refer customers to supervisors or more experienced employees
Customer service representatives answer questions or requests from customers or the public. They typically provide services by phone, but some also interact with customers face to face, by email, or live chat.
The specific duties of customer service representatives vary by industry. For example, representatives who work in banks may answer customers’ questions about their accounts. Representatives who work for utility and communication companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Those who work in retail stores often handle returns, process refunds, and help customers locate items. Some representatives make changes to customers’ accounts, such as updating addresses or canceling orders. Although selling is not their main job, some representatives may help generate sales while providing information about a product or service.
Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer phone calls and use computers to review and select standard responses from a list of options. Those employed in retail stores use registers to process returns or orders.
Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training to learn the specific skills needed for the job. They should be good at communicating and interacting with people and have some experience using computers.
Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma.
Customer service representatives usually receive short-term on-the-job training, lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn more complicated financial regulations.
General customer-service training may focus on procedures for answering questions, information about a company’s products and services, and computer and telephone use. Trainees often work under the guidance of an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.
In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, customer service representatives must remain current with changing regulations.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Customer service representatives who provide information about finance and insurance may need a state license. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they usually include passing a written exam. Some employers and organizations may provide training for these exams.
Communication skills. Customer service representatives must be able to provide information in writing, by phone, or in person so that customers can understand them.
Customer-service skills. Representatives help companies retain customers by answering their questions and complaints in a helpful and professional manner.
Interpersonal skills. Representatives should be able to create positive interactions with customers.
Listening skills. Representatives must listen carefully and understand a customer’s situation in order to assist them.
Patience. Representatives should be patient and polite, especially when interacting with dissatisfied customers.
Problem-solving skills. Representatives must determine solutions to a customer’s problem. By resolving issues effectively, representatives contribute to customer loyalty and retention.