Every employee should have the responsibility to serve customers. Customers’ satisfaction should be the goal of every employee, regardless of whether you offer them the best products or outstanding services.
All staff must put customers first. However, it is common to have one or more dedicated teams that support immediate client needs and maintain customer satisfaction. These employees are the customer’s first point of contact and help ensure that they are satisfied with your products and services.
This role is known as a customer representative in a customer support team. Let’s find out what a customer representative does and how you can become one.
What does it mean to be a customer service representative
Your customer service representatives are the employees who deal with customers. They are responsible for providing information on products and services and answering questions and complaints via phone, email and live chat.
Customers often turn to customer service representatives for help with their problems. They can also be proactive. By reaching out to clients with product updates and company news, they can solve problems before the client even notices them.
Your company may discover a flaw in one of their latest products. Before customers contact you, service reps will send emails out explaining how to fix the problem.
Part-time and full-time jobs are available for customer service reps. Their salaries are affected by factors such as industry, experience, location, or industry.
- The standard salary in the U.S. is $12.83 an hour
- Some salaries are between $7.25 and $27.20 per hour.
What is a customer service representative?
Customer service representatives work in nearly every industry. Their job duties can vary depending on their location. Representatives who work for banks might answer questions about clients’ accounts. However, representatives working for utilities and communication companies may assist customers with service issues such as outages.
Customer service representatives generally take over the following tasks:
- Information about products and services. Clients are provided with information about company products and services by customer service representatives. They provide details such as pricing and options, as well as specifications. They may also show you how to use a service or demonstrate how to operate a product. To ensure accurate information, they usually follow pre-written scripts.
- Answer customer questions. Customers can reach out to customer service representatives by phone or writing. They help customers compare products and services, and advise them on which option to choose. They may inform clients about sales or help them calculate discounts.
Many companies have created FAQ pages (Frequently Asked Questions) to help customers quickly find answers. A FAQ extension can be useful as it reduces workload and avoids duplicate content which is harmful for SEO. Clients can search this page to find answers and get immediate assistance.
- Resolve customer complaints. These support representatives will handle complaints from clients if they aren’t satisfied with the product/service. These support representatives listen to customers and offer solutions. They might offer discounts or refunds on future purchases, as well as replacement items. They might refer clients to supervisors in certain cases , particularly when dealing with complex complaints .
- Collaborate with other departments. Sometimes, issues are too complex or difficult to handle by a support representative. In these cases, the support team must ensure that the problem is communicated to the appropriate internal teams and that they take the necessary steps to solve it.
- You can process returns and orders. Many customer service representatives can process orders and returns online, over the phone, or in person. They oversee the purchase process, process cash payments and credit cards, as well as reimburse clients for returned or canceled items.
- Keep track of customer interactions. Use customer relation management (CRM software to document customer interactions. They maintain client records, manage support tickets digitally, and monitor the status of issues and resolutions. They may be able to retrieve customer records and update them, or tag them for supervisors.
- Get feedback from customers. Customer service representatives are not limited to solving client problems. They must also follow up with clients to determine if the solution worked and take note of any suggestions from customers on how they can improve their experience.
Customer service representative requirements
Customer service representatives usually need a minimum of a high school diploma. These professionals have the communication and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in this field.
Many companies require that customer service employees complete on-the job training. The length of these training courses varies from company to company. They can last anywhere from a week to a month. These courses teach employees basic customer service skills as well as how to use CRM software. Customer service representatives learn about the company’s processes and how to document customer interactions.
Standard industry training programs are required for customer service representatives in some companies. These programs often lead to one of the following certifications.
Although certifications are not often required for this job, many customer service professionals seek optional credentials to enhance their skills and increase the potential of their earnings. These certifications are the most sought-after for this job:
- Certified Customer Service Professional. This credential is available from the National Customer Service Association. Candidates must have at least two years relevant work experience. They also need to pass a 160-question examination. This designation is only for experienced and committed professionals.
- Certified Customer Experience Professional. To earn this credential, the Customer Service Institute of America requires that candidates complete an eight-module program.
- Customer Service Representative. This course is offered by HDI. It teaches professionals the fundamentals of this job as well as soft skills like critical thinking and active listening. To be certified, candidates must pass an exam and complete a 4-unit training course.
Customer service professionals must have the following skills to excel in this role:
- Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential as customer service representatives spend most of their time talking to customers or writing to them. They need to be able to read, write, speak, listen, and both communicate effectively.
- Computer skills. Customer service representatives must have computer skills in order to retrieve product/service information, process orders, communicate with clients, and use the internet. Customer service representatives need to be able to use file management, word processing and spreadsheets, as well as email or phone applications.
- Problem-solving skills. Strong problem-solving skills are required for customer service representatives. They must be able to identify and resolve problems that are acceptable for both the client and company.
- Multitasking ability. Multitasking is essential for service reps. They must be able to seamlessly switch between tasks such as solving high-priority tickets, documenting solution articles, or working with other teams so that their energy and time are well spent.
- CRM Mastery. Customer service representatives must be able to use CRM software to track and document customer interactions. It is essential to be able to create and edit tickets as well as search for customer records.
- Patience. Customers should have patience and be polite when dealing with unhappy customers. This helps customers understand their concerns and solve them quickly.
- Attention to detail. Customer service issues can be unpredictable so it is important to pay attention to detail and organize your efforts. Clients should be able to see the solution firsthand before they are suggested by support reps.
How to become customer service representative
Step 1. Complete your high school education
Customer service representatives with a high school diploma are preferred by most companies. You can gain foundational skills by completing your high school education, or GED. These skills include basic computer skills and math training.
Step 2. Finish postsecondary training
A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum requirement for customer service representatives jobs. However, you could be able to advance in your career by completing postsecondary training.
A solid education in active listening, interpersonal communication skills, and computer skills is essential for customer service professionals. Aspiring customer service representatives can learn these skills by enrolling in certificate, associate, and degree programs at community colleges.
Step 3. Find employment
Organizations in almost every industry need customer service representatives. Some customer service jobs require interaction with customers, such as those in retail. Others, like financial and investment companies, can handle customer inquiries via email, Web chat, or by calling a call center.
Finding a customer service job requires communication skills and education. However, on-the-job training can help you learn specific procedures and company policies. While most customer service representatives hold the same basic position in an organization, different departments may require their employees to follow specific procedures and guidelines when dealing with clients.
Training lengths vary depending on the company. A company that has a standard product might only offer training to new employees. For companies with constantly changing products like banks, ongoing training may be necessary.
Step 4. Consider a professional certification
As mentioned, professional certifications can help you improve your skills and increase your earning potential. To demonstrate your abilities and to distinguish yourself as a highly qualified candidate, consider obtaining at least one.
Step 5. Enhance your career path
A promotion to a managerial position may be possible for customer service representatives. Take advantage of training programs offered in these areas by your employer or enroll in classes at vocational schools, colleges or online training programs.
Keep in mind to develop your soft and hard skills every day. Customer service professionals have a lot to gain. This will ensure customer satisfaction, efficient operations, and a long-lasting career.
The bottom line
People often think that customer service representatives must be under a lot of pressure to serve unhappy customers. This job is well worth it if you have the necessary soft and hard skills.
Do you think being a customer service representative can be exciting? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments box below!