Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.
What they do
Customer service representatives work with customers to resolve 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 customer accounts and make changes, if necessary
- 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 text, via live chat, and through social media.
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 telecommunications 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. Although selling a product or service is not their main job, representatives may help generate sales while providing information.
Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer the phone and use computers to explore solutions for customers.
Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Representatives in offices may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the area can be noisy. Working from home is also possible in some companies. Representatives may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work may be stressful when representatives must interact with dissatisfied customers.
In retail stores, representatives may spend hours on their feet assisting customers in person.
How to become a Customer Service Representative
Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent 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 should be adept at using computers.
Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.
Customer service representatives usually receive short-term on-the-job training, which typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn 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 receive guidance from an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.
In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, customer service representatives must stay current with changing regulations.
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 an exam. Some employers and organizations provide training for these exams.
The median hourly wage for customer service representatives was $16.69 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.05, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $27.11.
Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029.
There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated. Internet self-service or interactive voice-response systems, social media, and mobile applications are increasingly popular because they enable customers to perform simple tasks without speaking to a representative. Improvements in technology will gradually allow these automated systems to perform even more advanced tasks.
Similar Job Titles
Account Manager, Account Representative, Call Center Representative, Client Services Representative, Customer Care Representative (CCR), Customer Service Agent, Customer Service Representative (Customer Service Rep), Customer Service Specialist, Member Services Representative, Sales Facilitator, Compliance Clerk, Customer Support Representative, Contact Center Specialist
Bill and Account Collector; Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerk; Interviewer; Receptionist and Information Clerk; Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- National Customer Service Association - This organization prides itself on being the ultimate provider of customer service education, development, and support services in the United States.
- Association of Support Professionals - The Association of Support Professionals is an international membership organization for customer support managers and professionals. The ASP publishes research reports on a wide range of support topics, including support compensation, fee-based support, and services marketing. The ASP also provides its members with discounts and career development services.
· International Customer Service Association - This organization’s mission is to advance, strengthen, and promote the industry of Professional Customer Service. We exist to assist individuals and organizations with their professional growth, development, and recognition, and to link service professionals’ worldwide.
- The Institute of Customer Service - This organization works to uphold the standards for our industry and drive progress. We want a world where excellent customer service is demanded, delivered and seen to make a positive impact on organizational performance and the wider economy.
Magazines and Publications
People with strong listening and problem-solving skills… who can patiently explain product details and handle complaints… have the key qualities needed to be a customer service representative. Customer service representatives —or CSRs— work in nearly every industry to process orders, provide information about products and services, and resolve complaints… usually by phone, although some work with customers face-to-face, by email, or live chat. Customer service representative duties vary by industry: they may answer banking account questions, track utility service outage reports, process returns and refunds in a store, or help customers find a product they’re looking for online. Many CSR positions are in telephone call centers, credit and insurance agencies, banks, and retail stores. Representatives often answer calls in a large, shared work area, which can be crowded and noisy. Some CSRs are required to take a certain number of calls during their shift, and all CSRs deal with at least the occasional dissatisfied customer. Most representatives work full time… schedules may include nights, early mornings, weekends, or holidays. Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma and are trained on the job. Good communication skills and experience using computers are helpful for candidates.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org