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What Does a Customer Service Representative Do?
|By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated February 3, 2023
A customer service representative is an individual who assists and supports customers on behalf of a company or organization. A career in customer service can be rewarding, especially if you have a talent for communicating and a passion for helping others. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a customer service representative, understanding the typical duties, requirements, skills and salary of the profession can provide helpful insight for deciding if the job is the right match for you.In this article, we explain what a customer service representative does, list typical requirements for the role, identify their beneficial skills, provide a step-by-step guide for starting a career as a customer service representative and explore their average annual salary.Explore jobs on IndeedPart-time jobsFull-time jobsRemote jobsUrgently hiring jobsView more jobs on IndeedWhat does a customer service representative do?Customer service representatives support clients by answering questions, solving problems and handling orders. They communicate with customers in person and over the phone, and they may also provide digital support over email or instant messaging. Here are some of the primary duties that you may experience as a customer service representative:Sharing information about products and services
Customer service representatives provide clients with details about the company’s products and services. They share information related to pricing, product specifications and options.
They might also discuss how to use services or highlight the right way to operate a product. Customer service representatives might provide details verbally or in writing depending on their employer. They often follow previously written scripts to ensure they follow workflows and provide accurate information.
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Answering customer questions
These support professionals also respond to customer inquiries verbally or in writing. They help customers compare products and services and advise clients about which options meet their needs. Customer service representatives may also assist clients with calculating discounts or inform shoppers about sales.
Responding to customer complaints
When customers experience problems with products and services, these support representatives handle complaints. They listen to or read about customer problems and suggest solutions. They might offer replacement items or discounts on future purchases to satisfy customers. Sometimes, customer support representatives might refer clients to supervisors, especially when handling complex complaints.
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Processing orders and returns
Many customer service professionals also process client orders and returns in person, over the phone or online. They add purchase amounts and process credit cards or cash payments. They also reimburse customers for the items they return or if they want to cancel their services.
Documenting customer interactions
Customer service representatives document their client exchanges, often using customer relationship management software. They may create client records, manage digital support tickets and record issues and resolutions. When supporting existing customers, these professionals may retrieve and update client records or tag them for a follow-up by supervisors.
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Customer service representative requirements
Customer service representatives need a high school education, on-the-job training, and soft skills.
Customer service representatives can benefit from having a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) credential. While you won’t need to have a secondary education to pursue a career as a customer service rep, having a high school diploma or equivalent is often a requirement to qualify for jobs in the field. High school education provides customer service professionals with the basic communication and interpersonal skills they need to work in this field.
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They include basic customer service skills and teach support staff how to use computer software and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. During these training programs, customer service representatives also learn about the company’s workflow and methods for documenting customer interactions.
Certifications aren’t a standard requirement for this job, but many customer service representatives pursue optional credentials to improve their skills and increase their earning potential. Three of the most common certifications for customer service representatives include:
Communication skills: Since customer service representatives spend most of their working hours communicating with or writing to clients, excellent communication skills are important. These support representatives can benefit from knowing how to read, write, communicate and listen well.
Computer skills: Customer service representatives use computer skills to retrieve product and service information, process orders, and communicate with clients by phone or email. Helpful skills include file management, word processing, spreadsheet, and email or phone applications.
CRM mastery: Customer service representatives use CRM software to document client interactions and track tickets. They know how to create and update tickets and how to search for customer records.
Empathy: Since customer service representatives often communicate with clients who have limited knowledge of or are unhappy with a product or service, it’s important that they’re empathetic. Cultivating this sense can help support professionals understand client concerns and resolve them effectively.
Problem-solving skills: Customer service representatives who resolve client complaints need strong problem-solving skills. They need to assess concerns and determine how to resolve issues in a way that’s satisfactory for the customer and the company.
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How to become a customer service representative
To get a customer service representative job, consider these three steps:
1. Complete your education
To become a customer service representative, it’s important to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent at the minimum. Complete your high school education and, if you plan to work towards a role in customer service management, consider earning an associate or bachelor’s degree to further show employers your commitment to your field. Look into majors or courses discussing topics such as human resources or hospitality that can provide helpful training for a career in customer service.
2. Develop your skills
3. Consider earning certifications
Video: 10 Most Common Customer Service Interview Questions
In this video, Sinead reviews the 10 most common questions that recruiters ask in a customer service interview with examples for how to answer.
Salary and work environment
In stores, they often work at desks and communicate directly with customers. In call centers, they typically work on computers in open-layout offices, where they communicate with customers over the phone, through email or via online chat. Some customer service representatives work from home, using computers to call, email and chat with customers.
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