Generally, customer service representatives interact directly with customers to provide information in response to product and service inquiries. They also handle and resolve customer concerns or complaints. Some customer service representatives may assist individuals with opening accounts for various utilities such as electric or gas, or for other services such as cable TV, internet, etc.
Technical customer service representatives explain how to use equipment or software and they also help customers navigate websites and tutorials. They also assist product users with troubleshooting issues.
In many cases, customer service representatives gather information via the telephone or face to face. However, as more business is conducted over the internet, the need for representatives who can quickly and efficiently respond to emails will continue to grow.
Many companies are starting to transform the conventional call centers, making email or instant chats the principle method through which they serve customers. People are now more likely to complain via email than by telephone. The challenge of this transformation is finding enough representatives to deal with the large volume of mail.
Technology & Training
A high school diploma or equivalent will normally suffice. Basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills are also necessary to succeed. Computer literacy with the ability to learn software applications is helpful as well. Many representatives use multi-line telephones, fax machines, and personal computers to perform their job responsibilities.
As important as all of these things are, the most essential attribute of a customer service representative is the ability to communicate professionally. Representatives must have excellent verbal and written communication skills. They must also have the right personality. A quick temper and a lack of patience will not suit you in this position. Customer service representatives should always present themselves with a courteous attitude and a willingness to help.
There are many seminars and continuing education courses made specifically for customer service representatives. Courses on general customer service techniques, letter writing, grammar and usage, negotiation tactics, and effective listening will be especially profitable for someone looking to succeed in this field.
Advances in technology, especially the increased utilization of the internet and the expected growth of e-commerce, should result in rapid employment growth in the field of customer service. As more business is conducted over the internet, more customer service representatives will be needed to answer questions, provide assistance, and efficiently respond to the growing number of consumer emails.
Entry level customer service representatives earn an annual base salary of $24,400 and for call center representatives, the average is $24,000. Technical support representatives earn an average base salary of $35,400. Data entry clerks earn $23,200 in average annual base salary. At health and financial service companies, customer service specialists earn an average annual salary of $33,073 and trainees earn $25,698. Call center specialists at these same organizations earn an average of $34,240, with trainees earning $27,298.
Besides annual salaries, most customer service representatives enjoy the added benefits of insurance, retirement packages, and bonus incentives.
Overall, the customer service field provides job security and a decent salary and benefit package for anyone who enjoys helping people. The added bonus is that it doesn’t require continuing education. The rules for satisfying a customer never change.