What Is It Like to Work in Customer Service?

We’ve all interacted with a customer service professional at one point or another. Any successful company employs these individuals to act as the face and voice of the organization. It’s safe to say that customer service professionals play crucial roles in the functioning of almost any business or company. 

Customer service representatives (CSRs) are responsible for nurturing positive relationships with customers. They act as the frontline of the company, and they’re usually the first person a customer or potential customer will interact with. Their job is to attend to customers’ needs, whether it’s answering a question or dealing with complaints.  

Let’s take a closer look at the customer service representative profession, including the job responsibilities and qualifications, how much a CSR makes, and what kind of advancement opportunities are available.  

What is a Customer Service Representative? 

Customer service representatives communicate directly with customers to act as the frontline faces and voices of a company. Their job is to attend to customers’ needs through whatever methods necessary. CSRs work directly with people on a daily basis, and are expert communicators and problem-solvers.  

Customer service representatives can work in a variety of settings and for a variety of organizations. Some CSRs work in call centers, some work in retail environments, some in offices. It all depends on the company and the role.  

What Do Customer Service Representatives Do?  

Although there are a wide variety of workplaces and environments that customer service representatives can work in, the job responsibilities are generally similar. CSRs perform their duties over the phone, through email, over social media, through chatbot or other AI functions, or all of the above. In some cases, customer service representatives might even interact with customers in person, depending on the company and the job.  

Typical customer service representative duties include: 

  • Responding to customer questions or complaints – giving satisfactory answers to queries and complaints and helping customers to understand problems and solutions 
  • Solving product- or service-related problems – troubleshooting issues that customers bring as well as concerns customers might have with a product or service 
  • Handling orders – CSRs may help with taking orders and processing payments, or providing the status of customers’ orders as well as facilitating returns and exchanges of products 
  • Recording and documenting customer interactions – many CSRs are required to document each interaction with customers and take notes to make sure every concern is resolved 
  • Following up with customers – some CSR jobs will involve following up with customers later to make sure concerns are resolved and the customer is happy 

What are the Qualifications?  

One of the great things about the customer service representative field is that for many CSR roles, the only barrier to entry is having a high school diploma or equivalent. It’s worth noting that some CSR positions may require an Associate’s degree or other kinds of advanced education. But for most CSR jobs, no college degree is required. This makes it an easy field to get into quickly and gain experience in. 

In most customer service jobs, on-site job training will occur after hiring. Most CSRs gain experience simply by undergoing training at their jobs and spending more time in the field.   

How Much Does a Customer Service Representative Make?   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for customer service representatives in 2020 was $17.23 per hour, or $35, 830.00 per year. Customer service representatives who gain more experience over time or advance into higher roles can make more.  

The BLS predicts little to no change in customer service representative job outlook growth between 2020 and 2030, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities in this field. Quite the opposite is true: The BLS says that about 361,700 openings for customer service representatives are projected each year. Most of those openings are expected to result from workers transferring to different occupations or exiting the labor force entirely, likely to retire.  

What Skills Does a Customer Service Representative Need to Advance?  

Another great thing about the customer service field is that there are plenty of opportunities to advance. We’ll examine some growth opportunities in a moment, but first, let’s think about what kind of skills a customer service representative needs to advance in their career.  

In-Depth Understanding of Company Product/Service  

Any customer service representative who wishes to advance in their job or career needs to have an in-depth understanding of the company’s product or service. This allows the CSR to help customers solve problems and answer any questions customers have to the best of their ability. The better a CSR understands their company’s products and services, the better job they can do—and that helps them advance in their careers.  

Phone System Management  

Phone management is a key skill that customer service representatives can develop in order to advance in their jobs and careers. Phone management involves handling multiple callers at once, putting callers on hold when necessary without irritating the customer, and transferring customers to different departments or supervisors when needed. Learning to do this smoothly and effectively is a real skill—and it’s one in high demand among customer service professionals. It’s a great skill for CSRs to develop in order to advance their role or demand higher pay.  

Active Listening Ability  

Active listening means listening with intent, rather than just hearing the words being spoken to you. A customer service representative can work on their active listening ability in order to better serve customers over the phone or on-line, as well as in-person if the job entails it.  

When customer service representatives develop their active listening skills, they’ll be able to immediately understand and empathize with customers who have issues or concerns. Not only does that help them to assuage concerns to make the customer feel better, it helps them to come up with effective solutions quickly.  

Patience 

The best customer service representatives have a great amount of patience. Unfortunately, customers aren’t always kind to customer service professionals, especially when they’re feeling frustrated. The best customer service representatives show immense patience and are able to diffuse tense situations, not exacerbate them. Demonstrating and developing this skill will serve any customer service representative well and help them to advance in their careers.  

Growth Opportunities  

If customer service representatives wish to grow their careers and advance up the ranks, there are many options. And almost all of them command a higher salary and more job responsibilities than the typical entry-level customer service representative job. 

Examples of jobs that customer service representatives can advance to include: 

Quality Assurance Manager 

A quality assurance manager is a supervisorial role in charge of leading the customer service representative team and making sure the service is up to standard. You’ll be responsible for training customer service staff and making sure the team abides by company service protocols. Most quality assurance manager jobs require three years of experience or more in a customer service role, although the exact requirements vary by company and position.  

Customer Service Training Manager 

A customer service training manager is in charge of the training process for customer service representatives and making sure that new hires are brought up to speed quickly. They’re also responsible for ongoing training efforts for existing staff, ultimately making sure that the entire customer service team is functioning at peak ability and serving customers the right way. 

Customer Service Leader 

Another managerial position in the customer service field is that of a customer service leader. These professionals are considered experts in all aspects of customer service, and they’re at the head of customer service teams and responsible for all activities therein. It’s their job to create positive, affirming workplaces and guide the customer service team toward positive results for the company. And because the average salary for customer service leaders is $76,000, according to CareerBuilder, it’s a good career prospect for customer service representatives to aim for.  

Begin Your Career in Customer Service with Opti Staffing Today 

Customer service representatives work for a variety of companies and organizations to answer customer questions and concerns, process orders, returns, and exchanges, and keep customers happy. There are many available customer service jobs available each year, and there are many opportunities for advancement. And with a high school diploma or equivalent usually being the only requirement for entry into a customer service job, it’s an easy field to enter and start growing. 

Are you interested in breaking into the customer service world as a customer service representative? Perhaps you’re already a CSR and you’re looking to advance your career with a new opportunity. Opti Staffing can help. We’re the customer service staffing and recruiting agency on your side.  

If you’re looking for customer service employment solutions in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, turn to our customer service job recruiters. Our offices in Lake Oswego and Portland, OR; Anchorage, AK; and Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, WA serve the region’s top employers and qualified job seekers. If you’re ready to grow your customer service career, contact a member of the Opti Staffing team today. 

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