Customer Service Representative

DESCRIPTION
Customer service representatives interact with customers to answer questions, provide product information, and resolve complaints. They may communicate through telephone, fax, email, mail, or greet customers in person. Customer service representatives are expected to answer questions as courteously as possible while also achieving service volume goals such as number of inquiries answered and how many seconds it takes them to handle a contact.

As the crucial interface between customers and supplier, it is very important that customer service representatives handle customer inquiries as quickly and as effectively as possible as it may be the company’s only interaction with a consumer. They must be excellent listeners and verbal communicators. They must be friendly, courteous and professional, and patiently work through issues while respecting customer opinions, needs, and time constraints.

Training is usually provided by employers during the first few weeks on the job during which time trainers groom representatives to work with customers in a prescribed manner. This training will include instruction on the company’s products and services, policies and regulations, as well as general customer service skills such as how to answer calls, handle customers, and use computer systems to update customer information, code, and record the details of each contact. Depending on the business, customer service representatives may also receive training in sales methods or detailed product technical support. They are trained to deal with difficult situations and difficult customers, and to know when to refer a call to a supervisor.

Customer service representative jobs provide a good entry point to a company and usually offer incentives for exceptional performance and opportunities for advancement to customer service supervisor or other positions as representatives learn more about the company and its customers.

EMPLOYERS
Public utilities; banks, lenders, and other financial service providers; insurance agencies; communication providers; telephone call centers; manufacturers; and retailers.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
A high school diploma is usually sufficient preparation for customer service representatives. Customer service representatives with some college will have more opportunities for advancement and will be more desirable for employers in more technical fields who need a more highly skilled workforce.

LINKS TO CAREER/INDUSTRY RESOURCES
Customer Service Representatives Career Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-ERXRCB6Nc
O*NET Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-4051.00
International Customer Service Association: http://www.icsatoday.org
National Association of Sales Professionals: http://www.nasp.com
National Retail Federation: http://www.nrf.com

Photos courtesy of Occupational Safety and Health Administration and United States General Services Administration.

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