Customer service representative

A customer service representative

Description

Customer service representatives handle complaints and are responsible for maintaining overall goodwill between an organisation and its customers. They manage data regarding customer satisfaction and report it.

Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Manage large amounts of incoming phone calls
  • Generate sales leads
  • Identify and assess customers’ needs to achieve satisfaction
  • Build sustainable relationships and trust with customer accounts through open and interactive communication
  • Provide accurate, valid and complete information by using the right methods/tools
  • Meet personal/customer service team sales targets and call handling quotas
  • Handle customer complaints, provide appropriate solutions and alternatives within the time limits; follow up to ensure resolution
  • Keep records of customer interactions, process customer accounts and file documents
  • Follow communication procedures, guidelines and policies
  • Take the extra mile to engage customers

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to customer service representative:

trainee customer service representative
customer service officer
customer relations officer
customer feedback representative
customer service person
customer experience manager
complaint representative
information agent
information office worker
senior customer service representative
service desk operator
assistant customer service representative
customer relationship officer
customer complaints handler
graduate customer service representative
information clerk

Working conditions

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.

Work Schedules

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

Minimum qualifications

Customer service jobs don’t require any type of formal education. However, candidates should have a high school diploma. Some candidates may have an associate degree or higher in a related field, but work experience and skills are ultimately more important than education credentials for these positions. CSRs usually undergo on-the-job training to learn about the company’s policies and procedures. 

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Customer service representative is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Customer service representative career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to customer service representative.

sales processor
call centre agent
live chat operator
rental service representative in cars and light motor vehicles
rental service representative in machinery, equipment and tangible goods

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of customer service representative. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of customer service representative with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

ICT help desk agent
sales account manager
aeronautical information specialist
consumer rights advisor
contact centre supervisor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of customer service representative.

  • Customer service: Processes and principles related to the customer, client, service user and to personal services; these may include procedures to evaluate customer’s or service user’s satisfaction.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of customer service representative.

  • Guarantee customer satisfaction: Handle customer expectations in a professional manner, anticipating and addressing their needs and desires. Provide flexible customer service to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Perform multiple tasks at the same time: Execute multiple tasks at the same time, being aware of key priorities.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Apply conflict management: Take ownership of the handling of all complaints and disputes showing empathy and understanding to achieve resolution. To be fully aware of all Social Responsibility protocols and procedures, and to be able to deal with a problem gambling situation in a professional manner with maturity and empathy.
  • Ensure customer focus: Attitude that puts customers at the centre of the business in all cases.
  • Determine charges for customer services: Determine prices and charges for services as requested by customers; collect payments or deposits; arrange for billing.
  • Implement customer follow-up: Implement strategies that ensures post-sale follow up of customer satisfaction or loyalty regarding one’s product or service.
  • Analyse problems for opportunities: Identify and anticipate problems in order to choose a course of action, come up with appropriate solutions or even identify opportunities for further development.
  • Provide information: Ensure quality and correctness of provided information, depending on the type of audience and context.
  • Keep records of customer interaction: Recording details of inquiries, comments and complaints received from customers, as well as actions to be taken.
  • Perform escalation procedure: Assess situations in which a solution cannot be provided right away, and ensure that it is brought to the next levels of support.
  • Apply knowledge of human behaviour: Practice principles related to group behaviour, trends in society, and influence of societal dynamics.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Process refunds: Resolve customer inquiries for returns, exchange of merchandise, refunds or bill adjustments. Follow organisational guidelines during this process.
  • Prioritise tasks: Organise tasks according to their priority.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Provide customer follow-up services: Register, follow-up, solve and respond to customer requests, complaints and after-sales services.
  • Process order forms with customer’s information: Obtain, enter and process customers’ names, addresses and billing information.
  • Control of expenses: Monitoring and maintaining effective cost controls, in regards to efficiencies, waste, overtime and staffing. Assessing excesses and strives for efficiency and productivity.
  • Process customer orders: Handle orders placed by customers. Receive the customer order and define a list of requirements, a working process, and a time frame. Execute the work as planned.
  • Process data: Enter information into a data storage and data retrieval system via processes such as scanning, manual keying or electronic data transfer in order to process large amounts of data.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of customer service representative. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Sales activities: The supply of goods, sale of goods and the related financial aspects. The supply of goods entails the selection of goods, import and transfer. The financial aspect includes the processing of purchasing and sales invoices, payments etc. The sale of goods implies the proper presentation and positioning of the goods in the shop in terms of acessibility, promotion, light exposure.
  • Consumer protection: The current legislation applicable in relation to the rights of consumers in the marketplace.
  • Data mining methods: Data mining techniques used to determine and analyse the relationship between different elements of economy and marketing.
  • E-commerce systems: Basic digital architecture and commercial transactions for trading products or services conducted via Internet, e-mail, mobile devices, social media, etc.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of customer service representative. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Perform data analysis: Collect data and statistics to test and evaluate in order to generate assertions and pattern predictions, with the aim of discovering useful information in a decision-making process.
  • Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
  • Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
  • Facilitate official agreement: Facilitate an official agreement between two disputing parties, ensuring that both parties agree on the resolution which has been decided on, as well as writing the necessary documents and ensuring both parties sign it.
  • Contact customers: Contact customers by telephone in order to respond to inquiries or to notify them of claim investigation results or any planned adjustments.
  • Measure customer feedback: Evaluate customer’s comments in order to find out whether customers feel satisfied or dissatisfied with the product or service.
  • Use customer relationship management software: Use specialised software to manage company’s interactions with current and future customers. Organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support, to increase targeted sales.
  • Carry out active selling: Deliver thoughts and ideas in impactful and influencing manner to persuade customers to become interested in new products and promotions. Persuade clients that a product or service will satisfy their needs.
  • Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.

ISCO group and title

4225 – Enquiry clerks


References
  1. Customer service representative – ESCO
  2. Customer Service Representatives : Occupational Outllook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Customer Service Representative Job Description – Indeed
  4. Customer Service Representative job description template | Workable
  5. Featured image: By Tomwsulcer – Own work, CC0
Last updated on November 30, 2022

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