How Do I Become a Customer Service Representative?

Research what it takes to become a customer service representative. Learn about the key skills and education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Customer Service degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Customer Service Representative Do?

Customer service representatives help companies maintain customer satisfaction by managing inquiries, addressing concerns, handling complaints and helping customers find information about products and services. In order to provide customers accurate information, they must be knowledgeable in the products and services they are selling. They record any issues during contact with customers and have supervisors help out when needed.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required High school diploma; associate's or bachelor's degree preferred by some employers
Training Required Most employers require additional in-house training
Key Skills Customer service, communication, problem solving, computer literacy
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Average Salary (2015) $34,560*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Customer Service Representative?

In order for businesses to flourish, not only must they be able to attract new customers, but they must also focus on retaining the ones they already have. Thus, customer service representatives are needed to maintain customer satisfaction. As a worker in this field, you'll primarily be responsible for handling customer inquiries, concerns and complaints in person or via e-mail or telephone. You'll help customers find solutions and information about the services or products your employer provides.

You'll mostly work with customers directly; however, depending on your place of employment, you might also have other duties. For example, if you work for an insurance company, you may have to read insurance policies in order to respond to inquiries about insurance coverage. In working for a computer service company, you may do some software programming or troubleshooting. In the retail industry, you may have to help with selling products.

What Are the Requirements for Getting a Job?

You'll need to have at least a high school diploma in order to qualify for most customer service positions; however, an increasing number of employers are starting to require an associate's or bachelor's degree. In pursuing your degree, computer, business or English classes could be helpful to you. For the most part, employers provide additional training, which will vary depending on the industry. This training can last weeks, during which you could learn about your employer, the products and services it provides, company policies and professional methods in working with the company's clientele.

What Skills Will Help Me Advance?

Because a majority of the work you'll do will involve dealing with customers on some level, good people skills can be important. You'll need to be an effective communicator and have keen problem-solving skills. You'll also need to be familiar with basic computer technology. In addition, you'll do better if you're patient and have a positive attitude, as you'll be confronted by rude and angry customers from time to time.

With a strong display of these skills, hard work and experience, you'll have the opportunity to become a supervisor or manager. You might also be able to use the knowledge you obtain on the job to move into other departments, such as product development.

What is the Job Outlook for This Career?

The BLS expected employment of customer service representatives to increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Employment in telephone call centers was expected to grow 39% during the same period, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for customer service representatives was $34,560, as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several other options for those wanting a similar alternative career. Financial clerks, insurance sales agents and tellers are a few of the other career options. Financial clerks must keep detailed records, complete financial transactions and help customers. Insurance sales agents sell and provide information for insurance. They help the customer figure out which insurance plan is right for them based on needs and cost. Tellers work in banks and provide customer service with cashing checks and taking payments on loans customers may have at the establishment. All of these careers require a high school diploma to begin work.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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