We have all experienced customer service in one way or another. Whether it was in a store, over the phone or on a company’s online chat, you have been helped by a customer service representative somewhere along the way. In fact, you have probably come across some sort of customer service aspect every day and just never realized it until now. That being said, there is a huge job market out there when it comes to customer service, and if you are a self-proclaimed “people-person,” then it may be a career you want to explore further.
What does a Customer Service Representative do every day?
You’re probably wondering, what does a customer service agent do all day besides answer phone calls or show shoppers where a certain product is?
While these are important day-to-day responsibilities, there are quite a few other job duties a customer service rep must accomplish during their workday. In addition to answering customer inquiries, agents are responsible for:
- Staying up to date on products and services
This means staying on top of all the latest and greatest that the company has to offer so that they can better assist the customer.
- Encouraging future sales
One facet of many customer service jobs is to encourage future sales. This means actively selling or promoting products and services to new and repeat customers.
- Keeping track of ongoing customer inquiries
Some customer issues can’t be resolved in one phone call. Things that require further investigation, time for processing, another department and so on mean that the customer is not fully taken care of. In these cases, agents have to make sure the process is on track to a resolution along with keeping the customer updated.
- Record-keeping of customer interactions
Whether by phone, email or in person, customer service reps need to make sure that interactions are properly notated. This ensures they and other agents know the whole story of what is going on.
- Some accounting or document preparation if required
Certain aspects of the job may require an agent to prepare documents or complete accounting functions such as billing. Not all jobs require this, but there are many that have this element mixed in.
- Follow up on emails and voicemails
Some requests come in after hours and need to be answered the next day. Representatives have to find time in their day to handle these tasks in addition to everything else they are responsible for.
- Advise management of any major issues
Some issues need back-up. These can be customer complaints or even serious concerns about a product or service. Either way, one of the many customer service representative duties is to promptly report these items to the next level of support.
- Investigating customer claims or issues in detail
Did you know some customer service agents are also detectives? Certain positions require that the rep take a deeper look into a customer’s issue. For example, if you report your debit card stolen, then an agent will need to investigate the timeframe it was likely stolen to determine what charges are fraudulent.
- Assisting other departments
Sometimes customer service rep responsibilities are outside of their own department. If another department in the company doesn’t know how to handle an upset customer or needs to know a history of customer interactions, they may reach out to a customer service agent for some help.
What is a Customer Service Rep’s job description?
Customer service isn’t just one thing. Depending on what products or services a company offers, customer service can be very general or very technical. For example, a big box store may have more general customer service needs like showing customers where a product is located or explaining return policies, whereas a company dealing with heavy machinery would need customer service agents with more specialized knowledge of how the machines work.
Customer Service can also be defined as “internal” or “external.” For example, a company that sells clothing will have external customer service, meaning its customer service helps those who buy their clothes. On the flip side, a large company likely has an IT support department that serves an internal customer service function. This customer service department would exist to help employees with their technology issues.
Customer service can be done from a call-center where agents never meet their customers, and it can also be done in the field where customer service agents and customers physically meet to discuss and resolve issues.
Given that customer service can include a wide range of who, what, where and when the job is done, there is truly no one job description that can be given. What you will most likely see instead is common themes between customer service representative job descriptions. These similarities show common duties and responsibilities of a customer service rep.
Some of these may be:
- Provide a great customer service experience
- Resolve customer issues
- Ensure company policies are upheld>
- Ensure customer satisfaction
- Utilize a variety of tactics or technologies to solve customer’s complaints
How do I become a Customer Service Rep?
One of the best parts of customer service jobs is they often are entry-level and always hiring. Companies can’t make money without customers, so they are in constant need of stellar agents to help keep customers happy and helped.
So while you likely won’t need any prior experience to find and land a customer service agent job, it never hurts to have some previous experience under your belt. This can help you beat out other candidates applying for the same job. You may be surprised what past jobs you have held that fall under the customer service umbrella. Many jobs have a customer service element to them. You’ll just need to explain how serving customers was a skill you used at your old job.
For example, if you worked in a restaurant, you likely resolved customers’ complaints about their food – boom! Customer service experience.
How about in retail? Even if you were responsible for stocking shelves or bagging groceries, it is likely that you answered questions from time to time about item locations, sales or just provided friendly greetings to customers. Again, customer service.
Maybe you just mowed lawns during the summer when you were younger. You still likely had to ask your customers what their preferences were, politely ask them to pay you, or even pitch your services to them so they knew exactly what you offered and the price. Again, these skills fall under the big umbrella of customer service.
Think about your past jobs or general life experience where you have been helpful to others, utilized your multi-tasking or problem-solving skills, or even had to resolve conflicts. Reframe these so that potential employers know you’re a great fit to help their customers.
Where can I work as a Customer Service agent?
If there is something being sold (product or service) there is likely a customer service department in some capacity. Whether it is a small brick and mortar store, a medium-sized online shop or even a multinational company, there are opportunities to assist customers.
The question is what channel you most desire to work in. The three primary channels of customer service are face-to-face, over the phone and online. Some businesses may overlap these outlets for customer service or combine all three, but some are strictly a one channel situation.
If you are ok with any and all channels, then start your search and make it broad. If you don’t want to be face-to-face with people, try to narrow your search to phone or virtual channels so you can stay in your comfort zone.
Once you have narrowed down this decision, you can start a simple Google search like “Customer service representative jobs near me” or “Call center customer service jobs.” This will help you figure out which businesses in your area are specifically hiring for customer service positions.
You may be surprised at the businesses that show up in your search. You will likely see the names of well-known stores and brands that require a fleet of agents to keep their customers happy. Some places you may not be expecting to find but may see are:
- Zoos, museums or entertainment venues
- Online stores or services
- Local community centers, libraries or city offices
What remote job options are there for Customer Service Reps?
Given that many customer service representative jobs are done over the phone or online now, there are plenty of opportunities for you to work from home. The number of jobs in America that are worked from home has steadily risen over the past ten years and continues to climb. As long as you have a phone line and internet access, you can take calls, virtually chat or email correspond with customers just as easily as you could at an office.
This option is great since you can drop the commute, stay in the comfort of your own home and use the technology you are already familiar with. This also benefits the company because they don’t require as much office space to house their customer service department…if any. Many companies have their entire customer service agent crew working from home. Amazon is particularly famous for having its offices in prominent cities but having customer service agents working from their homes in small towns across the nation.
These remote jobs are easy to find now too with the age of the internet. You can simply search “Customer service rep work from home” and find a plethora of companies looking for help. Then again, if a job sounds too good to be true, make sure you’re not being job scammed.
What skills will I need to be a Customer Service Rep?
Customer service jobs are all about helping the customer with a can-do attitude. There are many skills though that come into play to make that goal a reality. You may possess some or all of these skills that make someone a great fit for customer service. These skills are:
- Attentive to detail
- Great at multitasking
- Great listening skills
- Fantastic communication skills
- Technologically adept
- Passion for the company and products
- Excited about learning new things
How much will I be paid as a Customer Service Representative?
So you’re probably wondering, how much does a customer service representative make? The national average for a customer service agent’s salary sits right around $16.50/hour. This works out to about $34,500 per year.
This pay rate can range greatly depending on the company or industry you work for since the definition of customer service varies to much. IT Customer Service usually requires specialized knowledge, so these jobs are normally paid more than, say, a front-desk receptionist.
This isn’t always the case, but it’s certainly something to consider when you begin to look at your job options in this career sector.
Keep in mind as well that compensation shouldn’t be based on pay alone. What some companies may be lacking in hourly pay they make up for in great benefits. These benefits can include awesome medical benefits, a fantastic retirement plan, or the ability to work from home (i.e. part of your salary isn’t being eaten up by gas on your commute to the office). Keep these perks in mind when considering potential jobs too.
Are there any classes or training for Customer Service Agents?
While there are many entry-level customer service jobs out there that don’t require previous training, there are some that may. For example, a specialized industry may require that you be certified in a particular field. Take, for example, an insurance adjuster. They come out to review damages and advise the customer of the next steps as well as walk them through any necessary paperwork. These jobs often require that you have some prior knowledge of car repair or home maintenance so that you can correctly assess damages.
Prior training, certifications or degrees may apply to financial, skilled trades, technology or medical fields. But fear not, some of these industries are willing to provide the training you will need to get the job done. It’s a win-win.
Other than these specialized fields you, again, don’t have to have any previous training to become a customer service representative, but new skills never hurt. There are plenty of online and in-person courses you can take that will help you impress potential employers. These include business classes to help you perform better at work, such as accounting or effective company communications.