Customer Service Representatives
Customer service representatives provide information in response to peoples' questions regarding products and services. They also resolve complaints. Customer service specialists often deal with customers that are returning products. Some customer service representatives provide information about products or services to customers.
Customer service specialists are employed in almost every industry and their duties vary depending on the company. They often work at a company's front desk or in a call center. They communicate with customers via the telephone, fax, e-mail and by standard mail.
Customer service agents working in call centers spend most of their day on the telephone. Employers at call centers usually keep statistics to make sure that each customer service representative is being efficient and handling a certain amount of calls each day. Supervisors may listen to telephone calls or taped telephone calls to make sure the customers are being taken care of properly and efficiently.
Customer service representatives are provided with the information and resources required to answer customers' questions. Sometimes a customer service agent will route the customer's call to a staff member who can provide them assistance and resolve their problems. Customer service representatives need to adhere to company policies.
Sample job titles are account representative, client services representative, customer service specialist, member services representative, customer service agent, call center representative and account services representative.
- Provide information to customers via telephone, e-mail, fax, standard mail or in person
- Resolve customers' complaints
- Determine charges for services that were requested
- Keep records of customer transactions and interactions
- Make sure the appropriate actions were taken to resolve customers' problems
- Refer unresolved customer complaints to appropriate personnel
- Contact customers in order to respond to their inquiries
- Prepare invoices for returned goods
Customer service representatives should be polite and friendly. Strong communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills are important for the occupation. Customer service specialists should also be proficient with computers. They need to maintain their poise if a customer becomes rude or confrontational. However, resolving a customer's problems can be rewarding.
Customer service reps that work for retail stores may help customers by telephone or in person. They may work in the evenings and during the weekends.
Customer service specialists that are employed at call centers generally are provided with their own workstation or cubicle space. They work with telephones, headsets and computers. Call centers often are open for extended hours or around the clock, thus customer service representatives may have to work early morning, evening or late night shifts. They may have to work during the weekends and holidays. Many customer service agents work part-time or a split-shift. Some customer service agents work from their home.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted an 18 percent growth in the employment of customer service representatives between 2008 and 2018 which is faster than average for all occupations. A large number of customer service specialists are employed in the finance and insurance industries. In addition, being bilingual may be helpful in acquiring a job.
Many companies that have Internet operations provide customer service by telephone which has increased the demand for customer service representatives. Although some customer service call centers have been relocated in foreign countries, this strategy is less prevalent than in the past.
The median hourly wage for customer service representatives in 2008 was $14.36. Regarding the major employment industries for customer service agents, the highest wages were paid by the following sectors: Insurance carriers; agencies, brokerages and other insurance related activities; and depository credit intermediation.
Customer service positions often serve as a good introductory jobs into a company or industry. Some customer service agents may become supervisors or managers or move into other departments at a company.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most employers require applicants to have a high school diploma. Some customer service specialist positions require an associate or a bachelor's degree. Courses in English, computers and business are beneficial for the occupation. Training is provided by employers.
The primary employment sectors are finance, insurance, retail, administrative support and call centers.
Schools for Customer Service Representatives are listed in the Browse Schools Section.